Essential amino acids build protein in the body. The amino acid, lysine, helps produce energy. Lysine's actions increase calcium and help build collagen. The body contains collagen in many tissues and organs. Collagen protects connective tissues and heals injury. It is important to consume foods rich in lysine as it is not stored in body.
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Lysine--An Essential Amino Acid
Lysine is an amino acid that the body cannot manufacture -- it must be consumed in food, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC.. Burn victims, athletes and vegans may need lysine supplementation. Lysine is important in the production of the amino acid, carnitine, which converts fatty acids into energy thereby lowering cholesterol, reports the UMMC. Other names for lysine are L-lysine and amino acid K.
Importance of Lysine
The journal "Nutrition" reports that lysine supplementation increases calcium absorption and reduces calcium loss in women with osteoporosis. Lysine acts as a building block for proteins and builds the fibrils and fibers of collagen, according to Research Gate Scientific Network. The UMMC states that lysine in combination with the amino acid, L-arginine, enriches the environment for bone-building cells allowing for production of collagen.
Importance of Collagen
Nutrition Review reports that collagen binds cells together giving them structure and support. Collagen accounts for the largest amount of protein in the body, appearing in the dentin of the teeth, connective tissues, major organs, vessels and the eyes. Collagen produced in the brain protects against the plaques of Alzheimer's disease, reports Stanford and University of California researchers. The Vitamin C Foundation states that a lack of collagen causes blood vessels to break down resulting in hemorrhage.
Actions of Lysine
Lysine acts to block enzymes which break down collagen, according to Pacific Health Center. Nutrition Review reports that vitamin C in combination with lysine and the amino acid, proline, form procollagen from which different types of collagen are formed in the body. The UMMC states that some people supplement with lysine to protect against the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. The university goes on to say that some studies show no symptom relief from lysine supplementation when taken at the beginning of a herpes outbreak.
According to Pacific Health Center, lysine does not build up in tissues as an excess is excreted from the body. About one pound of lysine is stored in a 150 lb. person. Chronic deficiency of this essential amino acid occurs, principally because, it is excreted from the body, reports the Pacific Health Center. Lysine supplements are in the form of capsules, tablets, creams and liquids usually as L-lysine, according to the UMMC.
Dietary Sources of Lysine
Protein sources containing lysine include red meat, poultry,pork, cheese, cod, sardines, nuts, eggs, soybeans, legumes, and dairy products, reports the UMMC. Parmesan cheese and tofu contain high amounts of lysine. Brewer's yeast and spirulina also contain lysine.