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Lysine is one of the 10 essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce . Therefore, it is essential to achieve this through a varied diet that includes foods rich in lysine. This amino acid, in turn, is a proteinogenic, that is, it is part of proteins.

It is very important to know all the information related to lysine, from foods rich in this essential amino acid, as well as the benefits and consequences of a lysine deficiency. In this way we can be aware of the state of our health, and have knowledge of the foods that we should include in our diet and others.

Chemical structure of lysine

This essential amino acid contains a protonatable amino group in its side chain. Said amino group plays an important role in the formation of hydrogen bonds in protein chains. This allows you to stabilize the tertiary and quaternary structures.

In addition, the amino group causes proteins to have a positive charge when they are protonating and is acetylatable thanks to enzymes called acetyltransferases. It should be noted that, like arginine and histidine , lysine acts as a chemical base .

Biosynthesis and metabolism

As mentioned at the beginning, this is an essential amino acid, therefore, the body is not capable of producing or synthesizing it . That is why it is essential to eat foods with protein.


For the biosynthesis or anabolism of this essential amino acid, there are two ways to carry it out. One of them is carried out in bacteria and higher plants by means of diaminopimelic acid. This is a carboxylated epsilon derivative of lysine.

The other pathway of biosynthesis of this essential amino acid is carried out in most higher fungi through alpha-aminoadipic acid. This acid acts as an intermediate in the alpha-aminoadipate metabolic pathway of lysine synthesis.

Lysine is synthesized in plants and microorganisms from the amino acid aspartate , which undergoes a series of changes. Likewise, it is noteworthy that a large number of enzymes participate in this biosynthesis or anabolism. Among some of them are aspartokinase, diaminopimelate epimerase, among others.


When the body metabolizes lysine, it is broken down as acetyl coenzyme A after initial transamination with alpha-ketoglutarate acid. Acetyl coenzyme A or Acetyl-CoA is a molecule that is part of a large number of metabolic pathways.

In addition to this, it should be mentioned that when lysine decomposes and decarboxylation occurs, cadaverine is generated. Cadaverine is a diamine, responsible for the foul smell in organic matter that is in a state of decomposition.

However, cadaverine can also be found in saliva , urine, or semen, causing the distinctive odor of these liquids. In the case of saliva, when it contains a high level of cadaverine, it is directly associated with halitosis.


As already mentioned before, lysine acts as a chemical base, as well as a general base in catalysis. During this process, various substances may be produced. These include hydroxylysine, which is produced when lysine is catalyzed by the enzyme lysyl hydroxylase.

Hydroxylysine is present in collagen, therefore, lysine benefits this protein substance. Consequently, this essential amino acid helps in the production of collagen , and in turn, favors the absorption of calcium. It is important to note that the consumption of vitamin C is also essential, as it favors the synthesis of natural collagen.

Due to this, lysine is very useful for the absorption of calcium , participates in the construction of protein in muscle tissue and helps the recovery of soft tissues, tendons, among others.

Likewise, this essential amino acid also has an intervention in the maintenance of the immune system . And you can not forget to mention its great property to prevent and combat herpes simplex. And it is that lysine manages to inhibit the herpes virus, therefore, it is ideal to treat this disease.

Among other properties of lysine, the following stand out:

  • Helps synthesize carnitine with methionine .
  • It helps to better absorb calcium and to produce collagen.
  • Participates in the production of antibodies.
  • Together with arginine, it can increase the production of growth hormone in children and young people.
  • Participates in hormonal and enzymatic production.
  • Take part in muscle development.
  • It can help prevent the formation of atheroma plaques together with vitamin C.

Benefits of lysine

As can be seen from the foregoing, lysine has multiple properties and benefits . By promoting calcium absorption and contributing to the production of collagen, lysine helps prevent osteoporosis . But not only that, but it also reduces the loss or excretion of calcium.

Therefore, this essential amino acid is extremely beneficial for bone health. In addition, precisely because of its property to form collagen, it is also useful to prevent or stop hair loss and improve skin health.

The collagen is a protein that is able to give greater elasticity and firmness to the skin. Therefore, it helps delay aging and maintain healthier skin. Additionally, lysine also produces keratin, another important protein found in skin and hair. For this reason, it is also used to combat hair loss and alopecia .

This essential amino acid can also be used to decrease the pain and duration of shingles outbreaks . And as mentioned before, it is also useful for treating herpes simplex, as it inhibits the virus.

In addition to all this, lysine can also help reduce stress and anxiety. This, thanks to the fact that it increases serotonin levels , since a deficiency of this substance can cause depression.

Importance of lysine

The consumption of foods rich in lysine is essential for the proper functioning of the body. If the body is deficient in this essential amino acid, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Low defenses or a poor immune system.
  • Growth reduction.
  • Infertility

Although the deficiency of this amino acid is not very frequent, it can occur in people who consume little (or no) amounts of meat, such as vegans. It is there where the need arises to ingest lysine supplements, whether in syrup, capsules, tablets, etc.

This amino acid helps lower abnormal triglyceride levels, lowers cholesterol, and stimulates antibody production. That is why it is of great importance to the body.

And not only that, but it is essential in children to promote their proper development and growth . As previously noted, lysine helps to unleash growth hormone production. Therefore, it is essential in children and young people in full development.

What foods are rich in lysine?

Since we have seen the importance, properties and benefits that lysine brings to the body, it is necessary to know in what foods we can find it. Foods of animal origin are an important source of protein and lysine. Among them are dairy products, eggs, and of course, meat and fish.

However, products of animal origin are not the only ones that can provide us with this essential amino acid. Lysine is also present in a large number of legumes, vegetables, and nuts. Cereals also contain this amino acid, however, the amount is minimal, except for quinoa and amaranth.

Therefore, vegetarians or vegans have very good alternatives to products of animal origin in order to obtain a good supply of lysine. Among the foods richest in this amino acid are the following:

Foods of animal origin

  • Beef.
  • Pork Meat.
  • Chicken or turkey.
  • Fish, especially cod and sardines.
  • Egg.
  • Milk.
  • Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.

Vegetarian food

  • Soy.
  • Lentils.
  • Beans.
  • Potatoes.
  • Algae.
  • Nuts (peanuts, cashews, carob …).
  • Quinoa.
  • Amaranth.
  • Spinach, watercress, asparagus, among others.

As most cereals have a minimum value of lysine, it is recommended to consume them together with legumes. An example would be a bowl of rice with lentils or beans or a bowl of oatmeal with peanuts.

What is the recommended daily dose?

In healthy adults, the recommended dose of lysine is about 1.5 grams per day . This amount can be consumed through a varied diet, including the aforementioned foods.

However, in cases where you want to treat a disease, it will be necessary to multiply the dose, this can be up to 3 times the recommended dose. It should be noted that in any case, it will be a health professional who indicates the dose of lysine that the person needs to treat a specific condition.

As already explained previously, the deficiency of this essential amino acid can cause various symptoms. However, an excess of this amino acid also has its consequences and can generate symptoms similar to cases of lysine deficiency.

By having a varied and balanced diet, there are few risks of having a deficiency or excess of lysine. In the latter case, it is likely to occur if you are consuming a supplement of this amino acid.

Contraindications and side effects

If you are considering taking a lysine supplement, it is essential that you know its contraindications , as well as possible side effects. If you are currently taking any medication and want to take lysine in capsules, tablets or some other, it is important that you consult with your doctor.

This amino acid could interact with substances in certain medications and cause various reactions. Likewise, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is also advisable to consult your doctor .

Although lysine supplements are quite safe as long as the recommended doses are taken, some people may experience side effects. Among the most frequent are stomach discomfort, such as diarrhea and vomiting, and general discomfort.

It is important to take the doses indicated by a health professional or those indicated on the internal leaflet of the supplement itself. In addition to this, it should be noted that lysine competes with arginine. Therefore, if a lysine supplement is used for a long time, it could cause an arginine deficiency.

Lysine along with other substances

As was well seen previously, lysine can provide a wide variety of benefits in the body. However, many of these benefits are not achieved by this essential amino acid alone.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C together with lysine can significantly promote collagen production. But not only this, but it also helps improve calcium absorption and prevent many cardiovascular problems thanks to the fact that it can help prevent atheroma plaques from forming.


Like lysine, methionine is an essential amino acid. This for its part, in addition to being a proteinogenic amino acid, is also part of the group of compounds called lipotropics. Methionine, together with lysine, are capable of synthesizing carnitine, a non-essential amino acid.


In turn, carnitine together with lysine can contribute a lot to the body. As both substances are present in the body, cholesterol levels in the blood are reduced . This supports liver function and heart health.

Arginine and ornithine

And especially for those people who like to play sports, the combination of arginine with lysine and ornithine . All three substances together raise the level of growth hormones. This helps to develop muscle fibers and improve athletic performance.

There is no doubt that lysine is an essential amino acid of great importance, as it has many properties and benefits. Therefore, it is vital that we eat a varied diet in order to consume this amino acid , since a deficiency of it could be quite negative.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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