Any use of the letters GAPS on this website are used solely as an acronym for Gut And Psychology Syndrome
Dr Natasha



MCADD: Is it faulty genetics or Lysine deficiency?

MCADD stands for Medium-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency. It is considered to be caused by faulty genetics by the mainstream medicine. In simple terms, in MCADD the body cannot use fats for producing energy. Human body prefers to use fats for energy production, almost all our organs and tissues thrive on fats as the best source of energy. The situation, when fats cannot be used, goes against normal human physiology and is unhealthy, particularly for the heart muscle, the nervous system and the skeletal muscles.

A major characteristic of MCADD is low levels of an amino acid, called carnitine, which allows the body to use fats as a source of energy. It transports fats into mitochondria to be 'burned' for energy. The body of a person with MCADD lacks carnitine. With lack of carnitine, the body cannot use fats for energy production and is forced to live on glucose as the only source of energy. Carnitine is also involved in clearing metabolic wastes from the body; lack of carnitine leads to deposition of metabolic wastes in tissues and fat deposits. Carnitine is essential for dissolving fat deposits in the blood vessels and other tissues, transporting these fats into cells and into mitochondria, where fats are turned into energy. Overweight individuals are usually low on carnitine.

Carnitine is made by the body from an amino acid lysine. The typical reason for low carnitine in the body is lack of lysine, which can be due to many factors: toxicity, poor diet and electro-magnetic pollution. The mainstream opinion that MCADD is caused by faulty genetics is an assumption, based on lack of evidence of any other cause. The main reason - lack of lysine - needs to be investigated to find the real reason for MCADD, in my opinion.

Lysine is an essential amino acid, which means that we cannot live without it and the body cannot produce it, so we must get it from food, every day. Lysine-rich foods are: meats and fish, particularly red meats (beef, lamb and game), eggs, poultry, fermented dairy products and dark-fleshed oily fish (herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon - fresh and smoked). Grains, seeds and nuts are particularly low in lysine and tend to reduce its stores in the body; these foods must be avoided by a person with lysine deficiency. Vegetables and fruit are also deficient in lysine. All the foods, rich in lysine, are also good sources of carnitine itself.

The opposing amino acid for lysin is arginine. To increase your lysine level in the body you need to avoid high-arginine foods: chocolate, coconut, carob, oats, wheat and wheatgerm, peanuts and commercially available gelatine (no supplements in gelatine capsules!). All nuts also contain plenty of arginine; when you get better you can try eating some walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, but only occasionally and in very small amounts.

If the diet provides plenty of lysine, yet the person is deficient in this amino acid, we must look at the state of the digestive system. Is this person able to digest and absorb lysine? Is there something in the body that blocks lysine and does not allow it to do its work? Abnormalities in the gut flora and abnormal gut function are the modern epidemics all over the world. In my opinion, this is where we need to look for the real cause of MCADD.

Normal functions of lysine in the human body

Lysine is involved in appropriate production of growth hormone in the body. People with deficiency of lysine cannot produce enough of this hormone and, as a result, can become overweight. Increasing levels of lysine in the body can be very helpful in weight loss.

Lysine is essential for the immune system to function, particularly during a viral infection. Supplementing L-lysine is a well-known remedy for combatting herpes and other viral infections, as it suppresses growth of viruses.

Lysine is essential for the body to absorb and to use calcium appropriately. Low levels of lysine lead to abnormal calcium metabolism in the body, which can produce many different symptoms.

Lysine is a major structural element of our connective tissue, which forms the structure of the human body: all soft tissues, muscle, bone, fascia, ligaments, joints, capsules, etc. Lack of lysine leads to poor connective tissue structure, which in turn can lead to hypermobile joints, hernias, easy bruising, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and other problems.

GAPS Nutritional Protocol as a treatment of MCADD

The GAPS Diet

Follow the GAPS Diet, excluding all nuts and coconut products. Cocoa and chocolate are not allowed on the GAPS Diet and must be strictly avoided in MCADD. Limit all fruit, particularly citrus fruit and berries, as they are known to exacerbate lysine deficiency. Focus on animal products with good amounts of animal fats. Consume them with cooked and raw vegetables. Avoid all seeds for a year or until all the main symptoms of the disorder are gone. At that stage you can try to use sprouted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds for baking. Introduce these baked products gradually, starting from small amounts. Depending on the state of the digestive system, you may want to start from the GAPS Introduction Diet or even GAPS No-Plant Diet. If the digestive system is in a fairly good state, the person can start from the Full GAPS Diet.


I recommend that an adult with MCADD takes a supplement of pure L-lysine for a few months. Make sure to buy pure L-lysine powder (L-lysine hydrochloride) with no additives. You may need to get small electronic scales to measure your doses, but typically half a teaspoon contains one gram of lysine (1000mg).

Doses for an adult:

Start from 1000mg of lysine three times per day, taken with food. Take this dose for a week, then reduce to 500mg twice a day. Take 500mg twice a day for a month, then reduce to 500mg once a day. Stay on this dose for a month, then assess your progress. If you feel that you need more lysine, increase your dose slightly. You can reduce your dose or stop taking L-lysine and see how you feel for a few weeks. This supplement can be taken periodically for a few months at a time. In the meantime, make sure to eat plenty of foods rich in lysine.

L-carnitine supplements can also be helpful in MCADD. Make sure to get pure Acetyl-L- Carnitine with no additives. The doses are the same as for lysine.

For children with MCADD the doses need to be reduced according to the child's body weight. For children under the age of 6-7 years, on average, try a third of an adult dose. For older children we can use half the adult dose.

In conclusion:

MCADD and many other so-called 'genetic' disorders are assumed, due to lack of any other idea. The problem is that, when a disease is pronounced to be genetic, the message for the patient is - 'there is nothing we can do, just live with it!'. Genetics are not our destiny, the environment is - inside us and outside. Human body is a microbial community, there are more microbes in you than human cells! The most powerful influence on any microbial community in Nature is food. When you change your diet, everything changes in your body, including the way your genes work. I have lost count of how many people with so-called 'genetic' diseases have recovered from them with the GAPS Nutritional Protocol. This protocol changes your microbial community: some microbes disappear and others thrive. Your body, as a powerful microbial community, moves into a healthy state, where disease- causing genes become inactive, while healthy genes start working. So, if your medical professional has handed you an idea that you have a 'genetic' disease, don't take it for a gospel. It is time to change your diet and your life style, and your genetics will follow your efforts perfectly towards good health.