Eating right is essential at any age. Fueling your body with the right combo of vitamins and minerals can positively impact your energy levels and help you ward off illness or other issues. But nutrition can be complex, and in your race to get enough well-known vitamins, such as C and A, in your diet, you may overlook lesser-known factors such as lysine.
Find out more about what lysine is, how you get it in your food and what benefits it can offer below.
Lysine is an amino acid that acts as a building block to help the body make proteins. It may also help the body work to prevent certain viruses, most specifically the herpes virus, from growing.
Lysine is not something your body produces naturally, though. You have to get it by eating food with the amino acid in it or taking certain supplements.
Lysine is found in a wide variety of foods, including those below:
If you're worried about lysine intake and want to get more in your diet, consider talking to your doctor or a dietician to find out how best to go about that. You may also need to take into consideration your overall health and diet needs, so you can't just double down on steak with every meal. You might also consider talking to the caring staff at Cambridge Court assisted living community if you're a resident here. We offer healthy meals and snacks for all residents designed to meet your nutritional needs.
The research on lysine and its benefits in the human body is limited, and medical scientists are still digging into how this amino acid may help people of all ages, including older adults. Some of the potential benefits of lysine are summarized below.
Studies indicate that lysine makes it harder for the herpes virus to replicate in your body. This may mean that lysine helps reduce your chances of dealing with canker or cold sores. These annoyances on, in, or near your mouth are caused by a herpes virus — specifically herpes simplex virus type 1.
If you have this strain of herpes in your body, it typically hides inactive, causing little to no symptoms. However, when your body is stressed or is otherwise in a state of weakened immunity, the virus can act, causing cold sores to develop. This is why you may develop cold sores when you're anxious about something over a long period, not sleeping well, not eating well, or otherwise putting pressure on your immune system.
Studies have indicated that taking lysine supplements may reduce the risks of cold sores. This is because lysine may combat the herpes virus in your body.
Getting enough calcium in your diet is important at any age, and good calcium can help protect bones and other body parts as you age. But if your body isn't holding on to the calcium you take in when you eat and drink, those minerals aren't doing any good.
Some researchers believe that lysine helps your body absorb calcium more effectively. Medical scientists even believe that it's possible that lysine helps direct the distribution of calcium in your body to ensure the most effective use.
This one is in the early stages of study, but there's a chance that lysine can block certain stress receptors to reduce how your body responds to stressors. That may play a role in helping you reduce or regulate anxiety.
One study looked at how lysine worked to reduce stress in rats. It found that rats given lysine had less physical signs of stress than their counterparts. In a few other studies, people who took lysine were noted to have reduced stress responses or scores compared to control groups that did not take lysine.
Medical scientists have noticed that lysine becomes increasingly active at the site of a wound or other external damage to the skin or body. It's thought that lysine might work to support natural healing processes in the body and potentially speed up healing. One study using animals even indicates that lysine might speed up the healing of fractures.
Researchers are looking into other benefits of lysine, and one promising area for older adults has to do with muscle. We lose muscle as we get older due to the natural aging process. Some research is pointing to the fact that lysine may slow down muscle loss, helping older adults keep more of their strength and functionality for longer.
As with most supplements, the research is still coming out. Talk to your doctor before you take lysine supplements or add more lysine-rich foods to your diet.