Every 34 seconds in the United States, somebody dies of heart disease. In fact, cardiovascular disease is currently the leading cause of death in the nation, claiming about 697,000 lives in 2020 alone.
In coronary heart disease – the most common type of heart condition – arteries can’t deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Lysine, a common amino acid, is believed to inhibit plaque build-up and promote heart health. Moreover, a this study suggests that lysine can lower high blood pressure – a known risk factor for heart disease. Let’s see what other health benefits this nutrient has to offer.
Lysine Is a “Jack of All Trades” That Supports the Health of Multiple Systems
First of all, what is lysine’s role in the body? A building block for proteins, it is vital for muscle growth and maintenance. And, as it helps to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass, it may be particularly beneficial in improving strength and mobility in elderly people. Lysine also helps to produce collagen – a protein needed for speedy wound healing, healthy skin, and flexible arteries.
In addition, lysine contributes to bone health and wards off osteoporosis by supporting the absorption of calcium. It also supports the immune system by assisting the production of infection-fighting antibodies. As if that weren’t enough, this versatile nutrient is also involved in the creation of enzymes and hormones.
One more surprising attribute of lysine is its ability to ease anxiety and lower levels of the “stress” hormone, cortisol. In one randomized, placebo-controlled study, a week of supplementation with lysine and arginine reduced anxiety and lowered cortisol in healthy adults with stress-induced anxiety. Finally, this amino acid is believed to help control outbreaks of “cold sores” resulting from the herpes simplex Type 1 virus.
Clearly, when it comes to sustaining health, lysine “wears many hats.”
Supplementation May Help Keep Blood Pressure in Healthy Range
Some researchers maintain that lysine can reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) by preventing pressure buildup in the arteries. Recent research has shown that people with suboptimal lysine intake and high blood pressure experienced lowered blood pressure when supplemented with lysine.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled study published in BMC Nutrition, 1,000 mg of lysine a day for 112 days significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number, which measures the force of each heartbeat). In fact, this measurement dropped by an average of almost 20 points! The scientists concluded that the amino acid may be a “useful nutrient” when added to hypertension medications.
Lysine May Promote Heart Health by Reinforcing Collagen
Nobel prize-winning researcher Linus Pauling maintained that lysine may help promote heart health by strengthening collagen (“like steel rods in concrete,” in his colorful analogy), thereby helping to prevent collagen fracture and blood clots. When there are extra amounts of lysine and the amino acid proline in the blood, Pauling declared, the lipoprotein-a attachment sites are obstructed by lysine, creating a “Teflon-like” coating around the particles and preventing them from binding to the arterial walls.
In this way, lysine is believed to prevent plaque buildup – reducing the threat of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, these findings have been generally greeted with indifference by many conventional cardiologists.
Mostly due to the ground-breaking work of Linus Pauling (and others, such as Dr. Sidney Bush), some natural health experts advise a combination of vitamin C and lysine to reverse atherosclerosis and help prevent heart attacks. For example, the Dr. Rath Health Foundation’s Cellular Recommendations for Heart Health call for 100 to 500 mg of the nutrient a day, along with other amino acids, bioflavonoids, vitamins, and minerals.
Boost Dietary Intake With Meat, Beans, and Nuts
Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning it is not produced by the body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. It is found in animal products, including grass-fed beef, dairy products, cage-free eggs, and wild-caught salmon or sardines. For vegetarians and vegans, no worries: lysine is also found in wheat germ, beans, lentils, amaranth, buckwheat, and nuts.
While most people get enough lysine through diet, supplementation may be advisable. People recovering from burns or other severe injuries – and those who perform frequent, high-intensity workouts – may require a higher-than-average intake. Natural healers typically recommend amounts of up to 3 grams a day – but consult your own integrative doctor before supplementing.
Capable of promoting stable mood, bone health, heart health, and better immunity, lysine is clearly too important to take for granted. Eating a healthy diet can help ensure that you are consuming enough of this health-promoting amino acid.
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