L-lysine: It's role in iron and zinc absorption

It's Role in Iron and Zinc Absorption


L-lysine is an amino acid and is found in eggs, meat, fish and eggs. Generally speaking, lysine is one of the more challenging amino acids to get through normal food intake. This is especially true for those who do not consume these products.

There are very few studies looking at the role of L-lysine and hair. However, there is one in particular that one should be aware of. These are studies focusing on the role of L-lysine in iron and zinc absorption. In 2002, D.H. Rushton showed benefits of l-lysine in increasing iron and zinc levels and in reducing hair shedding.

Among 14 zinc deficient women, 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 actual zinc pills.

Similarly, Rushton showed L-lysine may help iron absorption. In his study, 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 reduced hair shedding causing the proportion of hairs in the telogen phase to decrease from 19.5 to 11.3.

L-lysine is a key amino acid and I often add it to the overall plan for patients with chronic shedding abnormalities and those with deficiencies of iron and zinc that don't respond to standard treatments. If I do ultimately recommend patients use 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 Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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