Today, access to scientific information about chemicals and compounds are within our fingertips. It’s relatively easy to educate ourselves about our own health-related questions. For instance, do you ever wonder how your body combats illnesses? Or how bodybuilders enhance their thick muscles? Well, these are thanks to the presence of amino acids or the so-called building blocks of protein. Amino acids are compounds that play important roles in the body including essential processes of manufacturing proteins, synthesizing hormones, and transmitting nerve signals. A particular amino acid we’ll be looking into is l-lysine. This article will also tackle its link to the prevention and cure of cold sores.
According to a study retrieved from the Harvard School of Medicine, amino acids are the combination of compounds such as nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. In addition, there are 20 amino acids that your body needs in order to function well and grow properly. Although all these amino acids are considered important, only nine of them are classified as essential. These nine essential amino acids include histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine and valine.
Unlike the other types of amino acids, these essential nine cannot be produced by your body and must be obtained from food. According to Jillian Kubala, a registered dietician and health writer, the human body cannot create these nine essential amino acids because it lacks the necessary enzymes for their synthesis. Thus, a good diet is necessary to acquire an adequate level of essential amino acids.
Sources of Essential Amino Acids
As previously stated, amino acids can be obtained naturally through your diet. You don’t have to analyze each food item in order to know what specific amino acid it provides. Considering that amino acids are building blocks of protein, you are right if you have guessed that protein-rich foods are the main sources of the nine essential amino acids.
Good sources of high-quality protein are eggs and lean meats such as beef, poultry, pork, and fish. These foods are also rich in nutrients including healthy fatty acids, vitamins A, B and D, and minerals like zinc and iron. Lean meats are also beneficial in toning the body and improving muscle mass.
However, if you are not a big fan of eating meat, some plant foods also offer good amounts of amino acids. These include whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. Another option to boost intake of amino acids is by taking supplements which are readily available in fitness and wellness stores.
Taking amino acids via supplementation in the form of branch chain amino acids capsules or powders can also boost endurance and strength, thus enhancing athletic performance and improving mood. In addition, acquiring these essential amino acids can help prevent muscle loss while speeding up fat loss.
Now that you are informed regarding the rich sources of essential amino acid, let’s closely examine one specific amino acid: l-lysine.
What is Lysine?
You already know that l-lysine or simply lysine is part of the essential nine amino acids. But what does it really do and provide for your body? Lysine offers remarkable benefits and is indispensable in various bodily functions and chemical processes. Simply put, imagine lysine as a super amino acid or the Superman in the Justice League of nine amino acids.
According to a study published in the PubMed Central database, lysine is vital in the production of protein, hormones, and certain enzymes. It also works with vitamin D to increase the body’s absorption of calcium for developing stronger bones. In addition, lysine is responsible for intensifying the function and activity of the immune system to combat disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. This amino acid is also in control of the production of collagen and elastin which are highly important in promoting skin health and speeding up its recovery and healing processes.
With lysine playing an important role to keep our immune system functioning well, is it now safe to assume that lysine can really combat cold sores?
Cold sores or fever lumps is a condition caused by a viral infection. These painful, watery lumps commonly appear near or on the lips in groups or in bits. Cold sores are caused by a certain type of virus called the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) which is more commonly known as oral herpes. HSV-1 can be passed to other individuals through body contact such as kissing.
Sadly, there is no known cure for cold sores, and breakouts may continue to reappear. However, the symptoms of this serious viral infection which are pain and burning sensations can be soothed using common antiviral medication such as famciclovir (Famvir) or acyclovir (Zovirax). Hot and cold compresses also provide relief.
L lysine for Cold Sores, How Does It Help?
HSV-1 needs a steady source of the nonessential amino acid arginine in order to replicate and thrive within the body. Arginine can be converted into nitric oxide which is a chemical necessary to puff up blood vessels and improve blood flow.
According to a study retrieved from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, clinical tests have found that lysine can interfere with the production of arginine. It can also hamper its absorption into the body, making the virus unable to use this amino acid. Therefore, even though lysine is not a cure per se for a cold sore infection, it can help prevent HSV-1 recurrence and slow down its progression by obstructing the replication process of arginine.
In addition, numerous past studies have shown that lysine may lessen the number of cold sore breakouts and shorten the healing time. However, some studies performed in human subjects also suggest that there appears to be no significant evidence supporting the healing properties of lysine.
Although a cold sore infection cannot be cured, treatment using lysine supplementation can lower risks of recurrence and restrict the progression of the infection. However, lysine is not recommended to be taken by pregnant and lactating women as safety has not yet been tested.
Before starting the treatment of cold sores with lysine supplementation, it’s highly recommended that you discuss lysine and other alternatives with your physician to identify the most suitable treatment for you.