Everyone knows by now about the importance of essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals in your anti-aging diet. But there are other, less talked about dietary components that you should be aware of, like lysine and arginine. Both lysine-rich food and arginine-rich food share many qualities, but these two amino acids contribute to your health and wellness in different ways. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of lysine and arginine, and how you can ensure that you’re getting an adequate amount of both in your anti-aging diet.
What Is Lysine?
Lysine is an essential amino acid that serves as a building block for protein in the body, making it critical for normal development and growth. One of the key benefits of lysine is its ability to help produce carnitine, which is a nutrient that plays a role in energy output—carnitine is a critical in the process of turning fatty acids into usable energy, while also helping to get rid of the toxic compounds that come out of that conversion process. Lysine-rich foods help to ensure that your body is producing enough carnitine for healthy functioning, as is the case for most adults.
Another one of the notable benefits of lysine is its ability to improve calcium absorption. Research has shown that lysine can enhance the intestinal absorption of calcium, which is why some health experts believe it can help with preventing bone loss that’s associated with osteoporosis.
Lysine-rich food can also help with the synthesis of collagen proteins. As you know, collagen constitutes the most protein in your body—it contributes to virtually everything in your body, including youthful skin, healthy teeth, major organs, functional connective tissues, eye health, and even the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. So what does this have to do with the benefits of lysine? It turns out a lot, actually. It’s believed that the amino acid helps with manufacturing collagen, which in turn can help everything from your heart to your joints.
Why Lysine-Rich Food?
The amino acid lysine is necessary for human health, but your body can’t produce it naturally, which makes lysine-rich food (or supplements) that much more valuable. The best lysine-rich foods are usually ones that are also in protein, such as:
• Lean beef
• Cheese (specifically parmesan)
• Sardines and cod fish
• Fenugreek seed
• Beans (and other legumes)
The daily recommended intake of lysine (for individuals 13 and older) is 12 mg per kilogram of body weight, and most people are able to meet this with the lysine-rich food in their anti-aging diet. It’s also important to note that athletes and some vegans may need to add more lysine-rich food or supplements in their anti-aging diet.
However, a deficiency is always possible, and signs that you may need to eat more lysine-rich food include nausea, fatigue, agitation, dizziness, red eyes, anemia, loss of appetite, and reproductive disorders. Side effects of lysine are fairly uncommon, but may include allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, or stomach pains. Your best bet would be to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage for you, especially considering the fact that the amount you’d need is usually calculated using body weight and lifestyle.
What Is Arginine?
Like lysine, arginine is also an amino acid. When it’s in your body, arginine gets converted to nitric oxide, which is a neurotransmitter known for helping to relax blood vessels and improve circulation. This is why the most notable benefits of arginine relate to heart health. For instance, some research has shown that arginine may have a positive impact on improving the flow of blood in the coronary arteries, which in turn can reduce the risk of clogged arteries, chest pain, and coronary artery disease.
As far as the benefits of arginine go, there is also evidence that the amino acid may help to treat symptoms of intermittent claudication, a condition characterized by fatty deposits that narrow the blood vessels in legs and feet, causing weakness, pain, and cramping in the legs. The blood flow benefits of arginine may also benefit diabetics—a study in the journal Diabetes Care showed that treatment with arginine improved insulin sensitivity among patients with type-2 diabetes. And a more recent 2014 study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that arginine had a positive influence on regulating the immune system.
Why Do You Need Arginine-Rich Food?
Unlike lysine, arginine is considered a semi-essential amino acid, which means that for most people, the body is able to produce it on its own if you’re eating a healthy diet; so it’s still important to consider adding arginine-rich food in your anti-aging diet to ensure that you remain within a healthy range. (Some health conditions may require additional supplementation.) Arginine-rich food is part of a well-balanced diet, so make sure your anti-aging diet includes some of the following:
• Red meat
• Dairy products
• Leafy vegetables
Side effects of arginine are also uncommon, but can include nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, allergic reaction, headaches, lower back pains, and low blood pressure.
The Link Between Lysine and Arginine
Although both lysine-rich food and arginine-rich food are both important, the two amino acids can interact with each other. Because both lysine and arginine share the same pathways for absorption, they can counteract each other—specifically, a high amount of arginine can in turn reduce the level of lysine in your body. This interaction is more likely to occur if you’re taking supplements, so again, consult with your doctor before mixing supplements or medications.
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