Is A Lysine Overdose Possible?
An overdose of almost anything that's good for us can have unpleasant side effects, and a lysine overdose is not exception. An overdose, by definition, means too much. We can certainly overdose on some vitamins, even though we need them, and there are many medications and supplements where an overdose can have bad to serious consequences.
An Essential Element - The problems with lysine lies in the fact that it is something we have to have to live. Lysine is an essential amino acid, which means it is one of those things the body needs but cannot manufacture on its own. It's like certain nutrients that are essential, but the only way we can get them is to eat foods that contain them.
Any time something is essential there seems to be a need to develop a supplement, to make certain we have access to that essential element. That's not a bad thing, since lysine is present in some foods we eat and absent in others, and depending on your dietary habits, it's always possible that you aren't getting enough, in which case a lysine supplement might make good sense. The average person needs a little over 1 gram of lysine a day, a seemingly small amount, but a significant amount if the diet is restricted to lysine-poor foods.
Lysine supplements may also be given to those who have suffered an injury or gone through major surgery, as in such cases the body requires more than the normal amount of protein, and lysine is a key amino acid essential in the production of protein. Lysine also helps the body absorb calcium, so supplements or a diet rich in lysine can be helpful to those in afflicted by osteoporosis. Lysine has been shown to have a positive impact on those suffering from anxiety disorders.
Just what then constitutes a lysine overdose? Linus Pauling, famous for his belief in the benefits of massive doses of Vitamin C, held the same belief with respect to lysine, the more the better. Sometimes when we ingest an excessive amount of something, vitamin A for example, it becomes toxic and potentially dangerous. Other things we ingest an excessive amount of, vitamin C for example, is simply eliminated buy the body and there's no problem. How the body reacts to a lysine overdose, and whether it simply eliminates the excessive amount isn't clear, nor is the definition of an excessive dosage.
It's Mainly About What We Don't Know - In general, a lysine overdose is not considered to be life threatening and the symptoms, if any, are somewhat mild. The real dangers of a lysine overdose are similar to an overdose of any supplement or medication. It depends upon the person's medical condition, and it depends upon what medications or other supplements the person is currently taking. When taking supplements, there is always the chance they will react with something else, and the more you take, the greater the reaction may be.
A second risk is that when large doses of a substance are taken over a protracted period of time, the long term effects, if any, are often unknown. There have been statements to the effect that lysine overdose over a long period of time can potentially cause kidney failure, but there does not appear to be any solid evidence to back such statements up. It has been determined that excessive lysine can make some cardiovascular disorders slightly worse, and elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels more so. In such case, a doctor should always be consulted as to what a proper dosage should be.
Use Common Sense - The bottom line? Common sense should prevail. If your diet includes legumes, poultry, red meat, and other foods rich in protein, you probably don't need lysine supplements, but if you're a vegetarian and don't eat beans all that often, you might. Take the recommended dosages on the container, or something less than the recommended dosage, and see your physician if you have a medical condition and want to know if lysine will help or harm you. In general, pregnant women are advised against taking lysine supplements simply because the potential for side effects on the mother or the fetus, if any, are not well understood.