L-Tyrosine: Better Mental Functioning During High-Stress?

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Exploring the world of dietary supplements can often feel like navigating a labyrinth, especially when it comes to understanding the true value each one offers. This article aims to demystify one such supplement, L-tyrosine, an amino acid that may not yet be on your radar. It serves a variety of roles in our bodies, supporting mental performance, stress response, and overall brain health. We’ll unpack the fascinating potential benefits of L-tyrosine.

What Is L-Tyrosine?

L-tyrosine, also referred to as just tyrosine, is a nonessential amino acid, which means our bodies can synthesize it naturally from another amino acid named phenylalanine. It’s labeled as ‘nonessential’ not because it lacks importance, but because it’s not required to be directly obtained through our diet. It is a crucial building block for several important substances, including neurotransmitters, hormones, and proteins within the body.

In terms of its role in our health, L-tyrosine stands out for its significant contribution to the production of several neurotransmitters, like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters are pivotal in controlling mood, cognition, stress responses, and overall brain function. Consequently, L-tyrosine’s influence extends to mental performance, stress management, mood regulation, and more, establishing its importance in our biological systems.

What Are The Benefits of Tyrosine?

Tyrosine is an amino acid that plays a critical role in the production of important neurotransmitters and hormones. Here are some of the key health benefits of tyrosine:

  • Improved Cognitive Function: Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, which are crucial for brain function. Supplementing with tyrosine can enhance cognitive performance, particularly in stressful situations or when cognitive demand is high. [PMID: 26424423]
  • Enhanced Mood: As a precursor to dopamine, tyrosine can positively influence mood and motivation. Adequate levels of dopamine are associated with feelings of pleasure and reward, potentially helping to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. [PMC6084775]
  • Improved Physical Performance: By aiding in the production of catecholamines, tyrosine may enhance physical performance, especially in endurance and high-intensity activities, but research has been mixed. When combined with caffeine and theanine, tyrosine had positive effects on physical performance. [PMC6880365].
  • Attention and Focus: By supporting the production of neurotransmitters involved in attention and focus, tyrosine may benefit individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or those who require sustained mental effort. [PMID: 24433977]

What Do Studies Show About the Benefits of L-Tyrosine?

Task switching is a special kind of mental skill where neurotransmitters tend to get used up and where L-Tyrosine has been found useful. In a 2015 study of 22 healthy volunteers, L-Tyrosine supplementation made a difference in the participant’s cognitive abilities. [PMID: 25598314]

The one area where L-tyrosine has shown promise is in improving the mental functioning of people under stress. L-Tyrosine may help improve cognitive function, especially during periods of stress or sleep deprivation. It may help enhance memory, focus, and attention. In a 2015 review, tyrosine was said to effectively enhance mental performance, but only when neurotransmitter function was intact and dopamine and/or norepinephrine is temporarily depleted, such as in stress and high-demand situations. [PMID: 26424423]

What Dose of L-Tyrosine is Needed to Increase Dopamine?

The dose of L-Tyrosine needed to increase dopamine levels can vary depending on individual factors such as age, weight, and health status. In general, the recommended dose of L-Tyrosine for cognitive enhancement and mood improvement is between 500-2000 mg per day. But, the optimal dosage for increasing dopamine levels may be higher, and it is recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase as needed while monitoring for any side effects.

By the way, even though L-Tyrosine supplementation may increase dopamine levels, it is not a replacement for prescription medications used to treat dopamine-related conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. It is always important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

What Other Nutrients Are Needed To Make Dopamine?

It would be a mistake to think we could just take a simple precursor molecule and automatically get dopamine. The whole neurotransmitter machine must be working and that requires a number of different nutrients working within a healthy system. The effectiveness of L-Tyrosine in increasing dopamine levels depends on the presence of other nutrients and cofactors. Apart from L-tyrosine, the following nutrients play essential roles in dopamine synthesis:

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 is a co-factor in the conversion of L-tyrosine to L-DOPA, which is a precursor to dopamine. It helps in the enzymatic reactions involved in dopamine synthesis.
  • Iron: Iron is necessary for the activity of the enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase, which converts L-tyrosine to L-DOPA. Iron deficiency can impair dopamine synthesis and function.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in the conversion of L-DOPA to dopamine through the enzyme aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). Magnesium deficiency may affect dopamine synthesis and neurotransmitter function.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and is involved in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine through the enzyme dopamine β-hydroxylase. Adequate vitamin C levels are important for optimal dopamine synthesis.
  • Zinc: Zinc is involved in the synthesis, storage, and release of dopamine in the brain. It is required for the activity of several enzymes involved in dopamine metabolism.

Is L-Tyrosine Safe?

Tyrosine is usually considered safe for most individuals when taken in appropriate dosages but they do interact with certain medications. It is a naturally occurring amino acid found in various foods and is generally well-tolerated. In general, a common dosage range for tyrosine supplementation is 500 mg to 2,000 mg per day.

Side Effects of L-Tyrosine

Although Tyrosine is generally well-tolerated when taken at appropriate dosages, some people may experience mild side effects. Common side effects of tyrosine, though rare, may include:

  • Headache: In rare cases, tyrosine supplementation may trigger headaches in certain individuals. However, it’s important to note that tyrosine is also used to support headache relief in some cases, such as tension headaches or migraines.
  • Increased blood pressure: Tyrosine is involved in the production of certain neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, which can have effects on blood pressure regulation. While tyrosine supplementation is generally safe, extremely high doses or individual sensitivity may potentially cause a mild increase in blood pressure.
  • Digestive discomfort: Some individuals may experience digestive symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, or diarrhea when taking tyrosine supplements. These effects are usually mild and temporary.
  • Agitation or restlessness: Some individuals may experience feelings of restlessness, anxiety, or agitation after taking tyrosine supplements. However, these effects are typically uncommon and usually resolve on their own.

It’s important to note that the likelihood and severity of these side effects can vary among individuals. If you experience any persistent or concerning side effects after taking tyrosine, it is advisable to discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.

What Supplements and Medicines Interact with L-Tyrosine?

Tyrosine doesn’t have any well-documented interactions with other supplements, but there are some medication interactions. Here are a few examples:

  • Levodopa: Levodopa is a medication commonly used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Tyrosine supplementation may potentially reduce the effectiveness of levodopa, as they both compete for absorption in the body. Consult with a your physician and pharmacist before taking this combination.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs are a class of medications used to treat certain mental health conditions. Similar to tyramine, tyrosine can interact with MAOIs and may increase the risk of hypertensive crisis. If you are taking MAOIs, it’s important to avoid high-dose tyrosine supplements and consult with your healthcare professional for guidance.
  • Thyroid medications: Tyrosine is involved in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. If you are taking thyroid medications for a thyroid condition, such as levothyroxine, consult with your healthcare provider before adding tyrosine supplementation. They can help monitor thyroid hormone levels and adjust medication dosages if necessary.
  • ADHD Stimulant medications: Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which are also influenced by stimulant medications used for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While there isn’t strong evidence of direct interactions, it’s advisable to discuss tyrosine supplementation with your healthcare provider if you are taking stimulant medications.

Food Sources of L-Tyrosine

Food Source Tyrosine Content (mg)
Soy Products (3.5 oz)1544
Cheese – Parmesan (1 oz)506
Chicken (3.5 oz)1174
Turkey (3.5 oz)896
Fish – Tuna, cooked (3 oz)1180
Almonds (1 oz)250
Avocados (1 oz)92
Bananas (1 medium)9

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Order L-Tyrosine Products Online


L-Tyrosine Powder

Tyrosine is a conditionally indispensable amino acid required for the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, as well as for the skin pigment, melanin.* Noradrenaline (norepinephrine) and adrenaline (epinephrine) are the main actors in the body’s response to acute stress and, along with dopamine, help to support a positive mood and mental alertness.* In addition, tyrosine is especially critical for the normal function of the thyroid gland.*

NOW® L-Tyrosine is pharmaceutical grade.

Suggested Use:

Mix 1/4 level teaspoon in juice or water, preferably between meals, 1 to 3 times daily.

Serving Size: ¼ Level Teaspoon (appx 350mg)

Amount Per Serving

L-Tyrosine … 350mg** (Free-Form)


Tyrosine

Cognitive and Stress Support* Provides l-tyrosine, an amino acid that the brain, adrenals, thyroid and other organs use to make neurotransmitters that are crucial to emotional balance and adaptability, especially when under mental strain.*

Suggested Use: Take 2 capsules once or twice daily between meals, or more, as recommended by a nutritionally informed physician.

Amount Per 2 Capsule Serving
Tyrosine … 1000mg
(free form amino acid)(l-tyrosine)


Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

In our exploration of L-tyrosine, we’ve encountered a nutrient that plays an essential role in our bodies, quietly supporting our mental performance, mood regulation, and stress response. While it’s a nonessential amino acid, meaning our bodies can produce it, circumstances such as stress, nutrient deficiencies, or certain health conditions may increase the demand for L-tyrosine.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


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