Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning your body can’t manufacture it — you need to get it in your diet. Lysine is needed for growth and to help maintain nitrogen balance in your body. While it’s true that most people get adequate lysine in their diets, vegetarians and vegans, and those who exercise a lot may be deficient.
You’ll want to make sure that you get enough lysine, especially when you consider a new growing body of evidence. It has to do with a link between the virus that causes cold sores and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical experts think the herpes virus could be a major cause of the plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. This has been big health news. Tons of money has been poured into Alzheimer’s research, but treatments remain elusive. No one knows how to stop amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles from multiplying and damaging the brain.
Research teams have discovered that a particular herpes virus is located very specifically in amyloid plaque. In fact, an astonishing 90% of the plaque in Alzheimer’s disease sufferers’ brains contain this virus. Previous research showed that the virus is present in the brains of many elderly people and that, in those people with a specific genetic factor, there is a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
This has opened the door for some new ideas about how to treat and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s. It turns out that the herpes virus is suppressed when exposed to an environment rich in lysine and poor in arginine. Researchers are now speculating that supplementation with lysine could help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
To boost your levels of lysine, try eating these healing foods: cheese; fish; soybeans and tofu; legumes; eggs; and nuts. As far as supplementing with lysine goes, the amino acid is available as a tablet, capsule, cream or liquid, usually found under “L-lysine.” Most people don’t need to take lysine supplements, but if you have a recurring herpes problem and/or family history of Alzheimer’s, get your doctor’s advice about taking an extra dose of the amino acid. For nutritional purposes, it’s thought most people need about one gram of lysine a day
For other health news about how to protect against Alzheimer’s, read Vitamin E Could Protect Against Alzheimer’s.