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What is Lysine?


Before we look at L-Lysine, let’s take a step back and discover our amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein in our body. Protein is part of every cell and is a vital component to the everyday functioning of our healthy body. There are 20 individual amino acids which are commonly broken up into two categories – essential and non-essential amino acids. With those 20 amino acids, our body is able to generate thousands of unique proteins all with a different function, purpose and reason.   

Firstly let’s look at our non-essential amino acids, out of the 20 amino acids, 11 of them fall into the category of our non-essential amino acids. Our body is one amazing and well-oiled machine, in that it is able to produce some of our amino acids as needed. This means that it is not essential that we ingest them from food.   

For our essential amino acids, our body is unable to self-regulate and synthesise these 9 amino acids, which means we must get these essential nutrients from our food.  Lysine is one of our nine essential amino acids.


Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids

(from our food)











Glutamic Acid 











When we enjoy a wide variety of plant and animal proteins, we are able to enjoy all the essential amino acids that our body needs. In saying that however, plant proteins tend to have a lower amino acid profile. Just another reason to enjoy a wholefood and plentiful diet full of grains, legumes, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as animal proteins.

A focus on Lysine

Lysine is most commonly known for its action fighting the common cold sore (Herpes simplex Virus), often prescribed as a supplement or sometimes a cream. It is thought that by taking Lysine preventatively or when you start to feel that typical cold sore tingle, it may reduce the severity or duration of the cold sore outbreak.

Lysine’s role in reducing the symptoms of cold sores is believed to be due to how it reacts with the amino acid arginine. It is suggested that when the Arginine and Lysine ratio is out of balance, in that Arginine levels are higher, the herpes simplex virus may use Arginine to replicate its self, therefore by increasing the intake of Lysine may reduce this replication and prevent a cold sore flare up.

Lysine has also been found to have an affinity with supporting minor wound healing and supporting the immune system. Again this could further support its role in preventing cold sores and increasing the healing rate from the outbreak of the herpes simplex virus.

We also know that Lysine is involved in the synthesis, production, formation and creation of connective tissues cells. Enhancing and supporting our skin and bones while having an affinity with our elastin and collagen production.

As Lysine falls under our essential amino acid category, it is vital that we have adequate intake from our food.

Typically the highest levels of lysine are found in animal protein sources; plant sources such as legumes and beans often contain arginine which may not benefit the Arginine : Lysine ratio in regards to resolving a cold sore flare up. 


The top Lysine rich foods:  

  • Organic beef
  • Organic lamb
  • Dairy products such as Parmesan cheese, Romano and hard goat’s cheese
  • Organic chicken
  • Organic roasted Soy beans, edamame beans, tofu, natto (fermented soybean), tempeh
  • Wild caught fish:  especially snapper, mackerel
  • Organic and pesticide free nuts: Especially pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Organic and free range eggs