Vitamins, minerals and amino acids are all substances the body needs to be healthy, and they interact with each other to promote optimal wellness. Sometimes supplementing with an amino acid can help the body better absorb a vitamin or mineral, and lysine and iron are good examples of this. If you have iron absorption problems or are deficient in this mineral, talk with your doctor about whether lysine may benefit you.
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Lysine, also called L-lysine, is an essential amino acid. This means the body needs it but cannot make it naturally, so it has to be acquired. Amino acids help make protein and are important for healthy growth and development. Lysine is especially important in making carnitine. Carnitine converts fatty acids into energy and helps to lower cholesterol. Lysine also helps the body absorb calcium and helps form collagen, which is found in tendons and cartilage. A deficiency in lysine can cause loss of appetite, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, anemia and reproductive problemsß.
Iron is essential to human health, in that it is necessary for cell growth and differentiation and aids in oxygen transport to tissues. Most of the body's iron stores, about two-thirds, are found in hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that brings oxygen to the tissues. Iron is also found in myoglobin, which brings oxygen to muscles. The intestines regulate iron storage in your body; when your iron stores are low, your absorption of iron increases. Without enough iron, anemia can occur, resulting in fatigue and weakness. There are two kinds of dietary sources of iron: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is more easily absorbed than nonheme iron and is found in animal products. If you do not eat meat, you may need to consume more foods rich in nonheme iron, like legumes, nuts and seeds.
Lysine's Effects on Iron
Lysine helps the body better absorb iron. Protein sources are typically high in lysine and iron and include red meat, chicken, fish like sardines and cod, isolated soy protein and soybeans. Dairy products also contain lysine, so it may be a good idea, if you take an iron supplement to take it with milk or a meal containing dairy.
If you think you have an iron deficiency, do not take iron or lysine supplements without first talking to your doctor. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your iron levels to see how deficient you are and how much supplementation is necessary. Even vitamins can interact with medical conditions or other medications you may be taking, so consult with a health professional about the medications you take and whether supplements may cause adverse effects.