When Can Lysine be Helpful?
L-lysine is an amino acid, which are the building blocks of proteins. Lysine is one of the more difficult amino acids to get in foods but it is found in meat, fish and eggs.
L-lysine has an important role in iron and zinc absorption. In 2002 D.H. Rushton demonstrated the benefits of l-lysine to increase iron and zinc levels and to reduce hair shedding.
Ruston reported 14 women who were deficient in zinc and showed that 1000-1500 mg of Lysine daily led to an increase in zinc levels from 9.7 to 14.6 umol/L - even without these women consuming zinc pills.
Similarly with iron, Rushton showed that 100 mg per day of iron 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 was associated with a decrease in the proportion of hairs in the telogen phase from 19.5 to 11.3.
L-lysine is an important amino acid and I often recommend it for my patients with chronic shedding abnormalities and those with deficiencies of iron and zinc that don't respond to routine supplementation. If I do recommend L-lysine, the dosing 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