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Lysine: The Amino Acid for Cold Sores

Lysine is an essential amino acid. Lysine occurs abundantly in fish and poultry, dairy, wheat germ, and other legumes, and in smaller amounts in grains and peanuts. You may need extra lysine if you eat a high-carbohydrate diet.

Make sure that you’re getting enough lysine if you’re a vegetarian. Grains, especially refined grains, are particularly poor in lysine. Adding beans to grain foods provides a more complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids.

Lysine is a precursor for the amino acid carnitine and is the best known for lessening and preventing herpes simplex virus infections. (It balances the tendency of another amino acid, arginine, to induce herpes attacks.) Lysine appears to work better at reducing the fever blisters, or cold sores, associated with Herpes simplex type I than it does on the blistering rash and genital sores of Herpes simplex type II.

The key uses of lysine include:

  • Lysine helps your body absorb calcium and promotes bone health — especially important for post-menopausal women. For the same reason, researchers found a positive effect for lysine to reduce dental cavities.

  • Lysine can also enhance recovery from hard-to-heal wounds or injuries.

  • Along with garlic, vitamin C, and niacin, lysine can help in lowering your cholesterol levels if they are too high.

  • This amino acid is important to collagen formation, thus adding to tissue strength.

Collagen is an important component of the lower layers of the skin. Good collagen support can help your skin look young and reduce wrinkling.

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