Arginine Dosage Found in Protein Powders and Effect on Shingles Symptoms

Arginine Dosage in Protein Powders and the Effects on Shingles Symptoms

Question for Dr. Leia: I want to use protein powder in my daily health shakes but I am unable to use whey protein powders because of the Arginine dosage, which is listed as an ingredient.

The reason for this, is I had shingles last year and still have uncomfortable shingles symptoms that Arginine aggravates. Soy and Hemp protein powders don’t seem to work for me because they cause diarrhea and bloating. Is there a protein powder that you know about that I could try and may be compatible for those who are suffering from Shingles and do not want to aggravate Shingles symptoms?”

Dr. Leia’s Answer: Dear Luise, protein powders usually list the amount of each amino acid on their containers. The traditional major protein powders are:

  1. whey
  2. rice
  3. soy
  4. hemp

Looking on the label for the ingredient specificity, you will find that each amino acid is listed in milligrams or grams. Comparing a few different brands of whey protein powders, I found that the amount of arginine is usually one fourth the amount of lysine.

Lysine is actually a good amino acid to take if you have shingles or the herpes zoster virus in your body because this virus does not like lysine, but in contrast, it thrives in the presence of arginine as you mentioned. However, in noting the ratio of arginine to lysine in soy powder, I find that arginine is slightly higher than lysine in soy powders.

Here are the facts regarding the arginine dosage which I found on a few labels:

  1. Soy protein powder contained 1954 mg. of arginine and 1634 mg. of lysine.
  2. Whey powders contained 500 mg. of arginine and 2 gm. (or 2000 mg.) of lysine.
  3. Rice protein powder contains about 900 mg. of arginine and 300 mg. of lysine.
  4. Hemp protein powder contains 1053 mg. of arginine and 342 mg of lysine.

From these comparisons of the dosages of arginine, I think that it would be better to try whey powder than soy, rice, or hemp protein powder. Of course, not all protein powders are equal, so I advise you to read the labels and then if you are brave, to try the protein powders.

It may be that any or all of the protein powders would aggravate your problem, however, rationally, it would seem that whey protein powder would be the choice of powder for you in relationship to your concerns about arginine and shingles.

I don’t know of any protein powders which will deliberately eliminate the arginine, because it might be too costly to produce and extract and it would also give an unbalanced amino acid product. Good luck in your search for a protein powder which agrees with your body.

Just from hearing about your symptoms with using soy and hemp protein, I would advise you to think about supplementing with digestive enzymes if these protein powders continue to give you so much digestive upset.

By Dr. Leia Melead