L Tyrosine, often referred to as simple Tyrosine, is an amino acid. Amino acids create protein. Tyrosine is made in the body from phenylalanine, another amino acid. Tyrosine is also found in foods we eat, including meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, beans, eggs, oats, and wheat. Some individuals cannot process phenylalanine properly in their bodies, so they can’t make tyrosine. To meet their needs, Tyrosine supplements are given.
What is Tyrosine Used For?
Tyrosine is used in the medical world to relieve symptoms of a variety of disorders and ailments , including:
- Stress relief
- ADD and ADHD
- Alcohol and cocaine withdrawal symptoms
- Heart disease
- Erectile dysfunction or loss of interest in sex
- Appetite suppressant
- Wrinkle reduction
In clinical studies and research, Tyrosine has interesting results for improving mental performance, memory, and alertness . It seems the amino acid is useful for improving these aspects of the human condition, but only in stressful conditions. For example:
Tyrosine improves mental performance
In testing involving healthy individuals, taking Tyrosine two hours before testing didn’t do anything to improve the test subjects mood, or speed of reaction to noise or visual stimuli. But, in studies involving test subjects in stressful situations, such as military training, or noise or cold-induced stress – mental performance was improved.
Tyrosine improves memory
In healthy people given Tyrosine 2 hours before testing, their memory showed no improvement. In studies monitoring individuals receiving Tyrosine in stressful conditions such as multitasking or under cold-induced stress- their memories improved .
Tyrosine improves alertness
For individuals who lost a night of sleep, taking 150 mg/kg of Tyrosine helped them stay awake longer and people who are sleep deprived had improved memory and reasoning after taking Tyrosine.
It is unknown why the results seem to work for individuals who are stressed rather than individuals who are healthy.
How Does Tyrosine Work?
Our bodies use Tyrosine to make chemical messengers to give the brain instructions. When Tyrosine supplements are consumed on an empty stomach, it is thought to increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which in turn leads to an improved mood, increased alertness and energy, and relief from depression symptoms.
Can Tyrosine Help Me Lose Weight?
There are no clinical studies or detailed research that outlines the potential for Tyrosine to help with weight loss, but it is a precursor to epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. As a precursor to these common weight-loss tools, Tyrosine is thought to be a good supplement for individuals in need of losing weight as it could help speed up metabolism similar to epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine to promote weight loss.
Tyrosine Side Effects
Because there isn’t enough information available about the potential risks, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use Tyrosine. Also, if you have been diagnosed with Graves disease or overactive thyroid, it is not recommended that you consume Tyrosine. Tyrosine supplementation can increase thyroxine levels too levels which are too high, which can increase the symptoms of Graves disease and hyperthyroidism.
- Tyrosine and Stress: Human and Animal Studies
Harris R.Lieberman 1 Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research; Marriott BM, editor. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1994.
- Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain.
Fernstrom JD1, Fernstrom MH. Send to J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6 Suppl 1):1539S-1547S; discussion 1548S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.6.1539S.
- Tyrosine improves working memory in a multitasking environment.
Thomas JR1, Lockwood PA, Singh A, Deuster PA. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Nov;64(3):495-500.