Lysine is an important amino acid for the health of the organism. Let’s see its functions and in which foods it is found. And advice for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and may have some deficiencies. We find lysine among the essential amino acids for skin and tissue health. It is an element that we can take through food since the body cannot synthesize it. Combined with vitamin C, it generates L-carnitine, a molecule involved in the oxidation of fatty acids. Why is it so important, and where is it? This substance has come back in preventing Covid-19 but has several properties. Here are which ones.
What Is Lysine
Amino acids are a category of organic molecules. This substance is also important as a precursor of niacin, better known as vitamin B3 or PP. We find it in foods naturally rich in protein, especially meat and dairy products, but also foods of plant origin, albeit in smaller quantities.
Because It Is Important
Like other ordinary amino acids, lysine plays an important role in the synthesis of proteins in the body, so much so that a possible deficiency can cause pellagra, a disease caused by the deficiency or non-absorption of B vitamins, niacin (vitamin PP ), or tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for its synthesis. This vitamin is generally present in fresh products: milk, vegetables, and cereals. Pellagra is a rare disease today; it was frequent among populations who exclusively used sorghum or corn polenta as a staple food.
It primarily affected people with severely unbalanced food systems, with contributing factors being gastrointestinal disorders or chronic alcoholism, which also interfere with the absorption and assimilation of the vitamin. Maize or sorghum also possess this vitamin, in a form which, however, cannot be absorbed by the intestines of non-ruminant mammals, except after treatment with alkali, for example, nixtamalization, used in the preparation of Pozol and flour for the tortilla.
Where Is It
Hair is mainly made up of proteins, particularly the amino acids lysine and cysteine , both contained in keratin. For this reason, it is present in numerous hair supplements and products dedicated to treating androgenetic alopecia. Some products are also offered to prevent the reactivation of herpes simplex, the virus responsible for recurring episodes of cold sores. Its assimilation requires micronutrients such as manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and B6. But be careful. Excessive intake produces an increase in cholesterol and biliary lithiasis. This amino acid can be taken in from supplements through a healthy and balanced diet. It is present in the following foods :
- In meat (red meat, pork, poultry);
- In cheese;
- In the milk;
- In eggs;
- In amaranth seeds;
- In some fish (especially cod and sardines);
- In soy;
- In legumes in general (among the best protein sources).
Also In Quinoa
We also find this amino acid in other “false cereals”, such as quinoa. Not only. Also, other legumes that can be easily purchased, such as:
- Chickpeas ;
- Fava beans;
How Much Lysine To Take
Its deficiency can cause some pathologies and conditions, such as:
- Red eyes;
- Enzyme disorders;
- Hair Loss;
- Lack of concentration;
- Reproductive disorders;
- Delayed growth and weight loss.
This insufficiency can result in a lack of niacin (vitamin B3) and expose you to the risk of pellagra. However, overdose, mainly due to abusing supplements, can also be problematic. It promotes an amino acid imbalance and diabetes, especially in poor nutrition. But also hyperglycinemia/hyperlipidemia (genetic pathology). High doses (10-15 grams) can cause gastrointestinal disturbances.
The indicated daily requirement is approximately 12 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This means that, for a healthy organism, a balanced diet would be sufficient to avoid deficiencies or excesses. Additionally, deficient legumes (besides buckwheat) can easily be supplemented with richer foods.
The Need For Vegan Diets
The Lack or excess of this amino acid manifests with some symptoms, even of the serious entity. People on a vegan or vegetarian diet should pay more attention and integrate it, avoiding abuses and overdoses, as they would run into:
- Nausea and vomit;
- Swelling typical of allergies, especially on the tongue, lips and face;
- Respiratory difficulties.
- Supplements are not recommended for patients suffering from the following:
- Cardiovascular problems;
The ideal would be to take legumes and cereals together, as the Mediterranean diet indicates, to ensure the body’s necessary contribution to protein synthesis.
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