L-lysine is an amino acid, it is found in meat, fish and eggs. It is one of the more difficult amino acids to get through dietary means, especially in those individuals who do not consume these products.
L-lysine plays an important role in iron and zinc absorption. Studies back in 2002 by D.H. Rushton showed benefits of l-lysine in increasing iron and zinc levels and in reducing hair shedding.
Among 14 women who were zinc deficient, L-lysine at doses 1000-1500 mg daily led to an increase in zinc levels from 9.7 to 14.6 umol/L even without these women consuming zinc pills.
With respect to iron, Rushton showed that iron pills (100 mg per day) in 7 women with chronic telogen effluvium did not change ferritin levels at all. However, when combined with L-lysine (again at 1000-1500 mg per day), ferritin levels increased from 27.4 to 58.6 ug/L. This causing the proportion of hairs in the telogen phase to decrease from 19.5 to 11.3.
L-lysine is an important amino acid and I frequently add it to treatment plans in patients with chronic shedding abnormalities and those with deficiencies of iron and zinc that don't respond to treatment. If I do recommend L-lysine, the dosing in our clinic is typically 500 mg twice daily, and rarely three times daily for short periods.
DH Rushton. Nutritional factors in hair loss. Clin Exp Dermatol 2002.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299