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What Factors Affect a Sufficient Lysine Dose?

By Canaan Downs
Updated May 17, 2024
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The amino acid lysine, while essential to human health, cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. As an important building block of many proteins, this amino acid is crucial for the healthy function of a number of differing body systems, particularly the skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems. Fortunately, most people easily obtain enough of the amino acid in their diets and do not require supplementation, although some research suggests that athletes and those on restrictive vegan diets may benefit from supplemental lysine. According to the findings of a number of different studies, however, the use of high dose lysine supplements has been correlated to improvements in outcomes for patients with herpes simplex virus and those at risk of developing osteoporosis. The recommended daily supplemental lysine dose varies according to the condition to be treated, its severity, the age of the patient, and his or her drug regimen.

The majority of studies that have noted positive responses to the use of supplemental lysine for herpes simplex virus have found that the amino acid is most effective when used as a prophylactic, particularly when accompanied by lifestyle modification and the use of an arginine restricted diet. Fewer studies have found that the use of lysine internally or externally as a treatment for acute outbreaks significantly reduce the duration or the severity of the outbreak. The standard adult lysine dose used for the prevention of herpes simplex virus outbreaks is 12 mg per kilogram of body weight per day taken on an empty stomach.

The lysine dose used for the management of an acute outbreak of herpes is significantly higher than that used for prevention. Some health specialists recommend a daily divided lysine dose of between 3 g and 9 g taken on an empty stomach. Maintenance doses of 1 g may be taken on a daily basis after the outbreak resolves to help prevent recurrence along with an arginine restricted diet. Lower doses may be used by patients under 13 years of age. It is essential that the patient endeavor to limit other risk factors, such as stress, stimulant use, and exposure to strong wind or sunlight to help reduce the incidence of outbreaks.

Lysine is well known to increase the level of calcium absorption in the gut and elevate serum levels of the mineral by reducing its elimination in the kidneys. Consequently, some health specialists believe that the addition of supplemental lysine to the diet may help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Patients wishing to incorporate lysine into their diets may benefit from a daily oral lysine dose of 12 mg per kilogram of body weight.

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