L-tyrosine is a stellar option for one of the best nootropics for warding off the brain-dulling effects of stress. It is recommended whenever you feel stressed, lose focus, or even maintain mental agility during sleep deprivation.
In a nootropic capacity, it not only alters the brain’s chemical amounts but also prevents their depletion.
Its greatest strength comes from its ability to work under pressure stress. In a stressful situation when your brain’s chemical balance feels all out of whack, L-tyrosine has the effect of preventing brain burnout, which is otherwise bound to happen.
To see how effective an effect L-tyrosine has on the brain and body, here is a detailed look at all that it can do.
- What Is L-Tyrosine?
- How Does L-Tyrosine Work?
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) vs L-Tyrosine: What’s The Difference?
- What Are The Health Benefits Of L-Tyrosine?
- How To Take L-Tyrosine Supplements
- What Are The Side Effects of L-Tyrosine?
- The Takeaway
What Is L-Tyrosine?
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body and is needed to maintain physical and mental functions.
It provides several benefits that range across improving physical and mental performance while also reducing stress.
How Does L-Tyrosine Work?
L-tyrosine works as a precursor to essential hormones like dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These also work in the capacity of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters for optimal brain functioning.
Collectively, these hormones are known as catecholamines and are produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenals release catecholamines into the blood when the body is under physical or emotional stress.
By providing the raw material for catecholamine synthesis, optimal amounts of tyrosine help maintain healthy brain chemistry.
These hormones have the following effects on the body:
This neurotransmitter is responsible for sending signals throughout the system of nerve cells. It affects regulating bodily processes like movement, memory, emotions, and the brain’s reward mechanism.
Also known as the motivation molecule, it provides the drive you need to be productive. Any dysfunction or low neurotransmitter levels can have effects like depression, attention disorders, or degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s disease.
Adrenaline plays a part in the fight-or-flight response.
When the body is under stress, it releases adrenaline to release a more significant blood flow to the heart, muscles, and lungs.
Noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine or NA, assists the body in responding to stress by increasing the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and mental alertness. It is also involved in mood regulation and the ability to concentrate.
It serves the dual purpose of acting both as a neurotransmitter and a stress hormone. The perfect balance retains harmony with high levels contributing to anxiety and low levels of depression.
Besides, L-tyrosine is also required for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and melanin.
Tyrosine attaches to iodine molecules in the body, creating the thyroid hormone precursors T1 and T2. T1 and T2 then combine to form the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. The proper amounts of T3 and T4 play a part in regulating different metabolic processes throughout the body.
Melanin is a protective skin pigment that makes hair, skin, and eyes appear darker. Its effects protect the skin from UV rays and block processes in the body that lead to skin cancer.
L-tyrosine plays a part in melanin production when the enzyme tyrosinase catalyzes tyrosine to convert to DOPA.
Working Mechanism In The Brain
L-tyrosine is one of the most well-studied supplements for brain health, with a host of scientific research validating its mechanism of action.
Most of these mechanisms involve catecholamines which are responsible for the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. Research confirms that tyrosine gets readily transported across the blood-brain barrier, where it is involved in neurotransmitter restoration.
L-tyrosine is created when its precursor phenylalanine gets metabolized in the liver.
The amount of tyrosine available to the brain affects the catecholamine synthesis of brain chemicals. Having sufficient L-tyrosine levels provides the body with a buffer it can use to produce more catecholamines.
Any form of physical or mental stress naturally increases the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, which can become depleted quickly. As this happens, the brain initiates a process to create more.
The first step in this process is to release an enzyme that converts L-tyrosine into the catecholamine precursor L-dopa and then into dopamine.
Part of dopamine is then oxidized and converted into adrenaline and noradrenaline (1). This is a built-in regulatory mechanism that helps supplement L-tyrosine levels.
Maintaining sufficient levels can increase catecholamine synthesis and release, ensuring that there is enough tyrosine during periods of prolonged stimulation (2).
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) vs L-Tyrosine: What’s The Difference?
N-acetyl L-tyrosine (NALT) is a modified form of L-tyrosine with an acetyl group attached to the tyrosine molecule to improve its bioavailability.
NALT is more soluble than the standard form but comes with a lower conversion rate in the body.
As such, a larger dose of NALT may be required as opposed to a standard dose of L-tyrosine. Both types of amino acids, however, are neurotransmitter precursors and yield the same effects and functions.
What Are The Health Benefits Of L-Tyrosine?
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that promises benefits both for the mind and body with everything from enhancing cognitive function, increasing energy, boosting mood, and increasing motivation. The effects of tyrosine are most noticeable in situations that involve a degree of physical or mental stress.
Alongside these, tyrosine supplementation is also used for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many other conditions.
Boosts Memory and Focus
Taking tyrosine as a supplement can help boost cognition in stressful situations. Studies have looked closely at the effects of tyrosine to improve cognitive performance by modulating the body’s response to stress.
One effect is to boost working memory as tasks become increasingly more challenging.
Research findings from a 2013 study involving participants engaged in challenging mental tasks showed that those who took l-tyrosine supplements performed better on complex tasks without showing much improvement on the more manageable levels (3).
A small study with 22 healthy participants taking supplemental l-tyrosine showed the effects of improved cognitive flexibility.
The result of overcoming memory deficit was primarily attributed to increasing brain dopamine (4).
Tyrosine is a handy helper when it comes to boosting mood or powering through a challenging task. Increasing significant neurotransmitter levels can have the effect of uplifting mood and driving motivation.
One animal study looked at tyrosine’s role in restoring average amounts of norepinephrine after going through stressful situations.
Another study involved people dealing with chronic stress and found that taking tyrosine improved mood by regulating stress-induced depression symptoms (5).
Reduces Stress and Depression
Stress can negatively influence many aspects of brain function, mood, and temperament, depleting it of norepinephrine stores.
Interestingly, tyrosine won’t greatly help your mental or physical performance under normal circumstances but has a more potent effect in stressful situations.
One such study looked at people staying in Antarctica during the winter months. This presents one of the harshest environments on the planet where mood and morale tend to plummet, and the body can encounter cold stress.
However, research findings showed that taking tyrosine helped with stress response and reduction (6).
L-tyrosine supplementation can have an anti-depressant effect by increasing levels of the feel-good hormones dopamine and NA. Human studies on depression management show that supplementing with tyrosine can help have a positive impact mediated by neurotransmitter release (7).
Helps With Attention Disorders
Low levels of tyrosine are not uncommon among individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Supplementing with L-tyrosine has been studied for its potential as an adjunct treatment for the disorders. The efficacy of L-tyrosine was investigated in a research study with both adults and children diagnosed with ADHD.
Findings showed that 77% of the patients who received l-tyrosine improved symptoms for 10 weeks. Another similar study with ADHD children used tyrosine along with 5-HTP, a precursor of serotonin.
Research findings showed that an impressive 67% experienced significant improvement in ADHD symptoms from this amino acid combination.
Promotes Thyroid Hormones Balance
Thyroid hormones are tyrosine-based hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Among these, thyroxine is the primary thyroid hormone that regulates metabolism and controls the production of T3 and T4.
Sufficient thyroxine production is essential to regulate symptoms of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid.
Helps Those With Phenylketonuria
Tyrosine is used as a treatment method for people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare amino acid disorder.
People with PKU lack an enzyme that breaks down the amino acid phenylalanine. This impaired mechanism can cause triggering a toxic buildup of phenylalanine that can eventually cause brain damage.
There is no cure for phenylketonuria, and PKU is mainly controlled by restricting phenylalanine in the diet.
Since tyrosine can be sourced from protein-rich foods and synthesized from phenylalanine, a tyrosine deficiency may occur. As such,l-tyrosine supplementation is usually prescribed.
Improves Exercise Performance And Weight Loss
L-tyrosine claims to be a fat burner, given its connection to catecholamines. It is not a weight loss supplement per se, but it is possible that taking an l-tyrosine supplement may assist with losing weight and fat when appropriately used.
Its ability to speed up metabolism is thought to improve exercise endurance, although evidence is mixed.
Some limited research indicates that when used in combination with other natural fat-burning substances like cayenne, green tea, or caffeine, it may assist fat loss in overweight people, but only slightly.
One research study found a very modest weight reduction when tyrosine supplementation was paired with capsaicin, catechins, and caffeine in overweight people (8).
For exercise performance, tyrosine doesn’t make you work harder but enables you to perform better under stress. Plus, it provides the cognitive benefit of focus which can make exercise more enjoyable and tolerable (9).
Maintains mental sharpness during sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is a concern that affects every hectic lifestyle. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or just a bust person, fatigue becomes a part of your routine.
When sleep is compromised, it affects your ability to manage stress, alters hormone balance, and even lowers your reaction time for skill performance.
Sleep deprivation also depletes catecholamine neurotransmitters. Tyrosine supplementation when you are fatigued and under persistent stress can boost optimal functioning of the central nervous system.
One study involved giving sleep-deprived subjects in the military 150 mg/kg of their body weight before having them perform a series of performance tasks with a cognitive component. Research results showed tyrosine benefits offsetting declines in performance and vigilance not seen in the placebo group.
Another similar study gave sleep-deprived soldiers in combat training five doses of 2 g of tyrosine every two hours during a demanding performance test. Findings showed tyrosine allowing them to perform better on tasks involving memory.
How To Take L-Tyrosine Supplements
Tyrosine is available from food sources like chicken, turkey, fish, and dairy products, but to use it for cognitive health benefits, it’s best to take a supplement instead.
The difference lies in how tyrosine gets processed. Like other amino acids from food, tyrosine ends up going to the muscles, whereas purified tyrosine in supplements gets pushed directly to neurotransmitter synthesis instead.
Tyrosine is available in powder form, capsule form, and in some workout supplements.
L-tyrosine is readily available as a food supplement that you can purchase alone or blended with other ingredients. It is also available as a free-form amino acid or as acetyl tyrosine.
A typical dosage for L-tyrosine is 150 mg/kg of body weight per day for up to three months. It is recommended to take tyrosine supplements 30 minutes before meals, divided into three daily doses.
For people with PKU, the dosage is recommended at 6 grams of tyrosine per 100 g of dietary protein.
A standard dose between 9-13.5 g for a 200 lbs person and 7-10 g for a 150 lbs person is recommended for people with depression.
Tyrosine supplements are also available as N-acetyl-L-Tyrosine. NALT is particularly popular as a nootropic and a performance enhancer for athletes and bodybuilders.
For optimal absorption, you can take the supplement with vitamin B6, folate, and copper. The best tyrosine supplements are available in doses of around 500 – 1500 mg in capsules and tablets.
Unlike other supplements, tyrosine works quickly and yields fast results. The effects can be felt in as little as 30 – 60 minutes. Taking it on empty stomach yields more immediate results.
What Are The Side Effects of L-Tyrosine?
L-tyrosine is considered safe when taken at the recommended dosage.
The most commonly reported side effects are mild and temporary, including headaches, migraine, fatigue, heartburn, or mild gastrointestinal distress.
There isn’t a lot of research showing the safety of tyrosine when taken for prolonged periods. The most recommended use of tyrosine supplements is for a maximum of three months or less to reduce the risk of side effects tied to an amino acid imbalance.
L-tyrosine should not be taken by people using high blood pressure medications, thyroid medication, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or stimulants.
Likewise, it should be avoided by people diagnosed with hyperthyroidism or Graves disease, or melanoma.
People who have Parkinson’s disease taking levodopa should also not take tyrosine to reduce the drug’s efficacy. It has also not been proven safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Suppose you have been overdoing it with work, juggling too many tasks, and not getting enough rest at night. In that case, L-tyrosine can help restore neurotransmitters that become depleted by a hectic lifestyle.
L-tyrosine has been studied for counteracting cognitive stress, improving mood, regulating depression, and enhancing memory.
This makes it one of the most helpful brain health options out there, and we recommend it to anyone who is performance-driven, enjoys multitasking, and wants to improve their overall brain chemistry.
- Should I take L-Tyrosine on an empty stomach?
Tyrosine is typically taken on an empty stomach, half an hour before having any food. This ensures that it is available to create neurotransmitters.
- Does L-Tyrosine make Adderall work better?
L-tyrosine and Adderall complement each other in few different ways. First, when taken alongside Adderall, tyrosine can potentiate its effects.
Or, when taken a few hours after Adderall, l-tyrosine extends the effect and delays the time it takes for Adderall to wear off.
The same can also replenish the brain’s tyrosine reserves, restoring the capacity to produce dopamine regularly. This also helps reduce the crash as Adderall starts to wear off.
- Can you take L-tyrosine and L-theanine together?
L-tyrosine and L-theanine are two pro-cognitive amino acids that are often used together in health supplements.
While tyrosine has a slight stimulatory effect, theanine has a calming yet non-sedative effect. No side effects are reported on taking the two together.