Lysine is an essential amino acid, which means that humans cannot synthesize, hence it must be ingested as lysine, lysine-containing proteins or supplements.
Lysine is needed for growth and to help maintain nitrogen balance in the body. It also works with other essential amino acids to maintain lean body mass.
The human nutritional requirement of lysine is 1g to 1.5g daily. Good sources of lysine are foods rich in protein including red meat, poultry and pork. Some types of cheese, particularly parmesan, eggs and certain fish, such as cod and sardines, also contain significant amounts of lysine.
Lysine is a necessary building block for all protein in the body. It plays a major role in building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Athletes involved in frequent vigorous exercise have increased need for essential amino acids, although most diets meet these increased needs. Lysine supplements are recommended for anyone involved in intense physical activity.
In addition, lysine supplementation provides additional benefits as it increases the absorption of calcium and may reduce its excretion. As a result, some researchers believe that lysine may support the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
A derivative of lysine is used in the production of elastin and collagen. Allysine is produced by the actions of lysine and is essential in the crosslink formation that stabilizes collagen and elastin.