The Story of Lysine
Our dear friend Geoff, artisan baker and former hotshot manager, is taking great pleasure in throwing smart and challenging nutritional questions at me whenever we see each other. Lately, he has bugged me with the potential dangers of a LYSINE deficiency while adhering to a plant-based diet. This, according to his account, is especially grave when it comes to our GROWING children. Over and over, I have reassured him that our LYSINE intake is absolutely sufficient, but he still loves to tease me about our avoidance of meat and about the necessity to reintroduce it into our diet (he does, however, acknowledge the negative effects of animal products on our health and our environment. As I said he loves to tease and challenge me!).
Anyway, does he have a point? He does! People adhering to a plant-based or vegan diet might not get enough LYSINE.
What is LYSINE and why is it such a big deal??
Lysine is an essential amino acid. Essential means that our bodies cannot produce it and we need to absorb it from our food. Lysine is important for proper growth and it plays an essential role in the production of CARNITINE, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and thereby helping to lower cholesterol. It also seems to help the body absorb calcium and plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance essential for bones and connective tissue such as skin, cartilage and tendons.
Most people get enough lysine in their diet. People at risk of becoming lysine deficient are:
- vegans who don’t eat legumes
- patients suffering from burns
Symptoms of lysine deficiencies are:
Luckily, there are enough plant-based foods that contain sufficient amounts of lysine. Every diet has to be balanced in order to be healthy. What one doesn’t eat is as important as what one eats.
Lysine rich foods are:
- legumes (beans, peas, lentils etc)
- nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds etc)
- quinoa (please don’t forget to soak overnight)
- soy products like tofu, tempeh
I found an excellent website with lists the amount of lysine in different foods as well as the necessary daily intake. It makes it easy to see how many servings of lysine rich foods should be consumed. Here is the link: https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-lysine-foods.php
So Geoff, you can now officially stop worrying about our lysine intake 🙂
We love you for always looking out for us!