L-Tyrosine Benefits for Mood and Mental Performance Under Stress

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used by the cells in the body to make proteins and in the production of several neurochemicals that support mental performance and mood. Considered an impressive supplement, especially when under high stress, it is commonly used on its own or in Nootropic stacks.

Type: Amino Acid/Natural
Used For: Focus, Motivation, Mental Clarity, Mood, Stress, Energy, Alertness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Physical Performance, Parkinson’s Disease, ADD/ADHD, Phenylketonuria (PKU)
Typical Dosage: 500 mg-1,000 mg daily
Possible Drug Interactions: Thyroid Hormone Medications, Levodopa, MAOI’s
Supplement Interactions: May interact with Mucuna Pruriens

What is Tyrosine?

L-Tyrosine also known as Tyrosine or by its chemical name 4-hydroxyphenylalanine is one of many standard amino acids that are used by the cells in our body to build proteins and influence the production of neurochemicals that are involved in cognition and mood.

Tyrosine Supplement Benefits, Uses & DosageTyrosine is a precursor to several important neurotransmitters including dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. These chemical messengers are considered to be highly involved in processes in the brain relating to mood, mental alertness, focus, attention and mental energy.

As a non-essential amino acid, our bodies already produce Tyrosine through food consumption but it may be a consideration to additionally supplement it to ensure adequate levels are present when under conditions such as high stress, sleep deprivation, prolonged work and fatigue when the body’s demand for Tyrosine may be higher.

We get Tyrosine from high protein rich foods and dairy products such as chicken, turkey, cheese, milk, fish and soy products. Its name actually comes from the Greek word “tyros” which means cheese because it was originally discovered in the early 1800s from a protein found in cheese.

The body makes Tyrosine from Phenylalanine, another amino acid which additionally plays a role in many other processes within the body.

This article will examine the benefits and uses associated with Tyrosine supplements, how this amino acid works in the body, the potential side effects and proper dosage guidelines.

L-Tyrosine Effects

L-Tyrosine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is synthesized from phenylalanine (another amino acid).

It is used as a raw material in the production of catecholamines, important neurotransmitters or chemical messengers such as Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Epinephrine, which are used by brain cells to communicate with each other via electrical signals.

When we ingest food sources containing traces of Tyrosine, it may be made available to the body at a slower pace than supplementing it, which acts to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system at a faster rate.

Increasing Tyrosine availability to the brain may help raise and maintain balanced levels of these particular neurochemicals when under extreme physical or mental stress and are involved in functions related to our ability to stay alert, focused and motivated.

Dopamine is the brains pleasure-reward system and plays a role in attentional control, focus, motivation, positive mood and mental energy. Norepinephrine, which is produced by Dopamine, acts as both a neurotransmitter and stress hormone. In the brain it is involved in promoting mental alertness, formation and retrieval of memory and vigilance.

Along with epinephrine (adrenaline), Norepinephrine also acts as a stress hormone, mobilizing the body and brain for action or triggering the fight or flight response in situations of stress or perceived danger.

Sleep deprivation or high stress can cause depleted levels of these catecholamines and Tyrosine is thought to restore their levels, preserving optimal cognition.

Additionally, this amino acid is involved in the structure of almost every protein in the body and helps in the functioning of organs that are responsible for regulating and producing hormones including pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands.

Finally, Tyrosine supports the production of Melanin. This is a pigment that is responsible for our hair and skin color and is thought to help protect the skin cells from UVB radiation.

Tyrosine Benefits For Extreme Stress and Mental Performance

The key potential benefit of Tyrosine is that it may be effective at reducing the adverse effects of physical and mental stress under demanding conditions such as lack of sleep, extreme cold, fatigue, noise-induced stress and prolonged work.

This may be related to its role in influencing the synthesis of Dopamine, which is thought to be crucial for concentration, sustaining attention, working memory and motivational processes and the synthesis of catecholamines, Norepinephrine and Epinephrine that prepares your body to handle extreme stress.

Some studies suggest that increased Tyrosine acts to greatly counteract decreased working memory and information processing when under high stress and demanding situational conditions.

One study on the effects of Tyrosine during sustained work and sleep loss involved subjects who were kept awake for over 24 hrs. They were given either Tyrosine or cornstarch placebo and had them do performance tasks and mood evaluations. The results of this study suggested that subjects who were given Tyrosine had decreased decline in mental performance that is typically seen during sleep deprived states than the placebo group.

In addition, low levels of Dopamine, which converts into Norepinephrine have been consistently linked to ADHD. A study on the effects of Tyrosine in combination with methylphenidate (such as Ritalin), a medication used to treat ADD and ADHD suggests promising benefits for increasing Dopamine more effectively than methylphenidate on its own. Anecdotally, people without ADHD report significant enhancement in their ability to focus with supplemental Tyrosine.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database has rated Tyrosine Possibly Effective for improving memory and cognitive performance under stressful conditions and boosting alertness following sleep deprivation. It has also rated supplemental Tyrosine effective for helping patients with consistently low blood levels of Tyrosine related to PKU (Phenylketonuria) a genetic disorder where phenylalanine can’t be metabolized.

More research is needed to determine the effects of supplemental Tyrosine in the body. At this time, it is only sold as a dietary supplement in the United States and is not an FDA approved drug to treat or prevent any conditions. In addition, if you are suffering from PKU consult your doctor first before considering this supplement to ensure the proper dosage range.

L-Tyrosine For Dopamine-Related Depression and Mood

Early small studies suggests that L-Tyrosine supplements may help improve symptoms of depression and low mood which may be due to influencing the production of Dopamine and Norepinephrine.

While most prescription anti-depressants (SSRI’s) focus on the reuse of existing levels of Serotonin which increases its level, there are many prescription medications for depression that alternatively target Dopamine and Norepinephrine or a combination of neurotransmitters in order to restore their balance.

Dopamine is considered a mood-elevating brain chemical and is thought to be highly involved in feelings of pleasure, reward, motivation, cognition and is thought to play a role in appetite and sleep regulation.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that provides the building blocks for the production of Dopamine and while low levels of Serotonin may be the culprit for depression in many people, low levels of Dopamine have been associated with low energy levels, lack of ambition, inability to concentrate and feelings of sadness and depression.

By boosting the production of Dopamine, this supplement may help address many of the symptoms of low mood and may contribute to feelings of more positivity and well-being.

One clinical study on patients with dopamine-dependent depression showed improved mood and sleeping parameters after only one day of treatment with oral Tyrosine.

Additionally, L-Tyrosine stimulates the production of Norepinephrine which plays a role as a body and brain stimulant that helps to increase alertness and energy levels by managing stress signals that keep anxious thoughts and physical stress reactions at bay.

Finally, anecdotal reports have suggested that this supplement may also act as an appetite suppressant and is purported to help you lose weight which is associated with boosting levels of Dopamine but there is no proof to support this claim.

Tyrosine Side Effects & Interactions

Tyrosine supplements are generally recognized as safe and well-tolerated at the appropriate dosages but there are a few potential side effects and interactions to consider before using this supplement.

Although many of the reported side effects are typically related to high doses, potential side effects such as headaches, indigestion, nausea and fatigue can occur.

This supplement is not recommended for people with thyroid disease, Graves Disease or those that are taking thyroid medications since it can cause elevated thyroid hormone levels.

There isn’t enough information to ensure the safety of Tyrosine while pregnant or nursing, therefore this supplement should be avoided as a precaution.

DO NOT take Tyrosine while taking MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) prescribed for Parkinson’s, depression and anxiety as this combination can raise your blood pressure too high which can increase the risk of strokes or heart attacks. Additionally, avoid Tyrosine in combination with Levodopa (treatment for Parkinson’s disease) or high blood pressure medications.

It is always recommended to consult with your doctor first before taking new supplements to ensure they are right for you.

Tyrosine Dosage Guidelines

There is no standard Tyrosine dosage recommendation (RDA) but the typical, generally accepted daily dosage ranges between
500 mg -1,000 mg which can be divided up into two or three equal administrations throughout the day on an empty stomach.

In studies, dosages of up to 12 grams daily have been used, however dosages this high is not recommended without the supervision or advice of a medical doctor.

Tyrosine is also available in a more bio-available form N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT). This is a modified and more soluble version, functioning in the same way and providing the same benefits but more particularly popular as a performance enhancer used by athletes. The recommended dosage for NALT is less than L-Tyrosine and is typically around 300 mg per day for cognitive-enhancing purposes.

Finally, many Nootropic users have reported that Tyrosine works well in combination or stacked with other Nootropics such as Noopept or Aniracetam enhancing the effects of this supplement.

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