Meet L-tyrosine, the nonessential amino acid known for its incredible benefits on mood, attention, and stress.
Stick around to read all there is to know about L-tyrosine. Its health benefits, usages, and other properties may encourage you to try supplementing with L-tyrosine!
L-tyrosine is one of the many amino acids, which are building blocks for protein synthesis. When we eat foods containing protein, our body has a fantastic ability to break them down into amino acids.
Although there are different categories of amino acids, they all have similar functions in the body. Amino acids play critical roles in body reparation, the digestive process, cognitive health, and more!
Here, we are going to learn all about L-tyrosine and its role in our mental health.
To begin, L-tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid. This means that our bodies produce L-tyrosine independently; we don’t technically need to get it from outside sources, like food or supplements.
L-tyrosine is synthesized in vivo from another amino acid called L-phenylalanine. It is also found in high-protein-containing foods such as turkey, fish, peanuts, and dairy products.
Oddly enough, ‘tyrosine’ comes from the Greek word tyros, meaning cheese! This dairy product is where scientists first discovered tyrosine.
L-tyrosine serves as a precursor to the significant catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine). In other words, increased L-tyrosine can increase/generate these neurotransmitters, which is behind tyrosine’s powerful brain and mood-boosting effects.
I’m sure, for many of us, L-tyrosine is not on our supplement list, especially since our bodies provide as much as we need. However, you may find that getting a little more L-tyrosine through your diet can prove to have many benefits!
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Studies have shown L-tyrosine’s positive effects on alertness and memory, specifically in environments that require multitasking. For example, administering 150 mg/kg of L-tyrosine to a group of participants significantly enhanced memory task accuracy compared to the placebo group.
This study also showed that L-tyrosine helped maintain performance and focus during more strenuous parts of the tasks.
In another study, participants found that taking L-tyrosine promoted cognitive function and improved working memory, all the while supporting alertness and performance during demanding conditions.
L-tyrosine aids in stress management, similar to how it helps in improving alertness and memory!
Stress, which is a familiar aspect in most of our lives, can actually decrease neurotransmitters, which can impair nearly all aspects of proper brain function (memory, attention, decision-making, etc.).
L-tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine and the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. Consequently, it plays a significant role in stress management!
Dopamine plays a crucial role in memory and motor skills. L-tyrosine, which increases dopamine production in the body, can thus help to counter the adverse effects stress can have on disrupting our memory and other functions.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine are our ‘fight or flight’ hormones; they affect our response to stressful situations. Since L-tyrosine can help create our ‘fight or flight’ hormones, we may experience a better reaction to mentally demanding circumstances.
Overall, tyrosine is very effective in helping individuals under stress or in cognitively demanding tasks.
This amino acid can have mood-enhancing effects, primarily in connection with dopamine production. Dopamine does more than just play a role in memory and motor skills. This neurotransmitter is more famous for its association with our brains’ reward and pleasure centers.
When supplementing with L-tyrosine, it is likely to feel a positive difference in our mood and emotions, as dopamine helps keep us motivated, happy, and alert!7
L-tyrosine may even go as far as having antidepressant effects.
Depression is very complex and varies greatly depending on the individual. Nonetheless, it is often associated with an unbalance in certain chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and more).
As we know, tyrosine can help boost dopamine in the brain, which, in turn, may combat depression that is linked to dopamine deficiency.
More research is needed, however, in regards to L-tyrosine being used as an antidepressant.
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L-tyrosine can potentially improve your energy levels!
This is most likely due to tyrosine's ability to increase dopamine production, which may increase motivational tendencies. Supplementing with tyrosine can help motivate you and help maintain the momentum to accomplish your daily tasks!
In physically active settings, athletes supplement with tyrosine because they claim it improves their overall performance levels. In fact, studies have shown that L-tyrosine provides athletes with increased endurance during exercise, especially running.
L-tyrosine even went as far as helping those who were training in extreme heat. Participants who were supplemented with tyrosine showed increased endurance capacity, even in extreme temperatures.
L-tyrosine has some specific functions in the body that can be of help to people with particular ailments. For instance, L-tyrosine supplementation can be beneficial for those who have phenylketonuria, also known as PKU.
PKU is a severe condition in which the body cannot use phenylalanine, which means the body is unable to create L-tyrosine. Phenylalanine, dangerously, builds up in the body and causes many health issues. L-tyrosine supplementation may help individuals with PKU, as well as consuming a phenylalanine-free diet.
L-tyrosine, among other minerals, works to build thyroid hormones.
One study showed that tyrosine supplementation was especially thyroid-supportive in winter climates.
In colder climates, our thyroid has a challenging time working at optimal levels. In fact, the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) tends to increase in production to compensate for imbalances/impaired function in the other thyroid hormones.
Increased TSH can be problematic since a rise in this hormone is linked to hypothyroidism.
Tyrosine supplementation significantly reduced TSH levels during the winter season while slightly increased T3 levels. This led to an improvement in mood as well, compared to the placebo group.
More studies should be conducted to conclude L-tyrosine’s supportive role in thyroid function. Still, promising studies suggest its influence in thyroid hormonal balance.
On a similar note, this amino acid may also promote weight loss!
This is due to tyrosine’s effect on thyroid hormones. Tyrosine works to supply thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters, which are known to increase metabolism and energy production. One can only assume L-tyrosine plays a role in weight loss.
In one study, L-tyrosine was administered to 80 overweight participants, along with catechins (antioxidants), caffeine, and capsaicinoids (anti-inflammatory compounds). This study revealed some weight loss in the subjects as a result of taking this supplement.
Again, more trials need to be completed for a conclusive answer, especially to see whether L-tyrosine can promote weight loss without the help of the other ingredients.
For most healthy individuals, tyrosine does not cause any adverse side effects. For some, tyrosine was recorded to cause:
It is also important to note here that, in most cases, L-tyrosine is typically not beneficial for older adults. As we know, tyrosine can improve cognitive abilities and working memory performance in most individuals.
Unfortunately, it has been found that L-tyrosine has an inverse effect on older adults (typically over 60). Supplementing with this amino acid in this age group is not beneficial and can result in cognitive decline.
If you have a thyroid condition, it is not recommended to supplement with L-tyrosine (of course, consult with your doctor first).
Adding extra tyrosine to your diet could create hormone imbalances with those with thyroid conditions since tyrosine takes part in producing thyroid hormones.
For those who are susceptible to migraines, L-tyrosine might not be for you.
Epinephrine, when converted from tyrosine, creates a substance called tyramine. Tyramine is another amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure. In causing the blood vessels to constrict, then dilate, tyramine can trigger an unwarranted migraine.
To avoid over-production of tyramine, it is suggested to avoid supplementing with L-tyrosine.
Those who are taking the following medications should consult with their doctor before supplementing with L-tyrosine:
· Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Tyrosine may cause a dramatic increase in blood pressure for those who are taking this antidepressant medication. This spike in blood pressure could cause a heart attack or stroke.
· Thyroid Medications: Thyroid medications exist to replace thyroid hormones that cannot be produced naturally in the body (or in sufficient quantity). As we learned, Tyrosine aids in producing thyroid hormones, which can be a contraindication for those on thyroid medications.
· Levodopa (L-dopa): Levodopa is commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. This medication, when taken with tyrosine, competes to be absorbed by the body. For this reason, taking Levodopa with this amino acid can potentially interfere with this medication’s effectiveness.
There is not yet sufficient evidence to determine if L-tyrosine is safe for pregnant women or children. Talk to your healthcare provider first if you are pregnant, or if you are considering tyrosine for your child.
It is recommended to take L-tyrosine supplements before meals for overall effectiveness.
For athletes, tyrosine can be taken up to 2,000mg, 30 minutes or so before exercise.
To enhance the benefits of L-Tyrosine, you can also take it with other supplements such as vitamin B6, folate, and copper.
As you now know, you can get an extra boost of tyrosine through certain high-protein foods and by supplementation. Another way to try tyrosine is through EarlyBird Morning Cocktail! This supplement mix has 250mg of L-tyrosine, among many other health-boosting ingredients.
If you are looking for a mood boost and increased alertness, EarlyBird Morning Cocktail is worth a try!