Dietary L-lysine and calcium metabolism in humans

Nutrition. 1992 Nov-Dec;8(6):400-5.


Calcium deficiency contributes to age-related bone loss; consequently, any preventive approach to osteoporosis should include dietary Ca adjustment or supplementation. The ideal Ca supplement would yield the greatest bioavailability. Studies in animals have shown that dietary supplements with certain amino acids, particularly L-lysine, can increase Ca absorption. Therefore, we examined the potential effect of this essential amino acid on Ca metabolism in humans. In one study, the acute effects of an oral Ca load (3 g as CaCl2) administered with or without 400 mg of L-lysine were compared in 15 healthy and 15 osteoporotic women. In all cases, the oral Ca load determined a progressive increase in serum total Ca and Ca2+ and a concomitant decrease in neophrogenous cAMP. As expected, a progressive increase in urinary Ca excretion was also observed, except in the L-lysine-treated healthy subjects, who exhibited a blunted calciuric response to the Ca load. In a second study, the effects of a short-term dietary supplementation with either L-lysine, L-valine, or L-tryptophan (800 mg/day) on 47Ca fraction absorption were compared in 45 osteoporotic patients. L-Lysine but not L-valine or L-tryptophan significantly increased the intestinal absorption of the mineral. Our results suggest that L-lysine can both enhance intestinal Ca absorption and improve the renal conservation of the absorbed Ca. The combined effects may contribute to a positive Ca balance, thus suggesting a potential usefulness of L-lysine supplements for both preventive and therapeutic interventions in osteoporosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biological Availability
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Calcium / urine
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Lysine / administration & dosage
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Lysine / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / metabolism


  • Lysine
  • Calcium