While many people get enough tyrosine in their diets, it is sometimes necessary to take supplements to ensure your body has enough of this critical nutrient.
What is Tyrosine?
Tyrosine is one of the twenty standard amino acids found in the body that plays a part in the synthesis of certain proteins. While it is not one of the “essential” amino acids, it still has a number of vital functions in the body, often acting as a precursor to dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and thyroid hormones. Studies are ongoing about the range of effects that this amino acid can have in the body, but it is clear that it can impact mood, working memory, stress hormone levels, and hormone production.
Your body is able to make this compound, which is often referred to as L-tyrosine when it consumes another amino acid, phenylalanine, which is converted into tyrosine. This is in addition to the foods that naturally contain a high level of tyrosine. In most people, enough of this amino acid is acquired within a normal diet, as it is commonly found in plant materials since it plays a key role in photosynthesis. However, depending on your specific health conditions and needs, your doctor may recommend a supplement of this amino acid to optimize your health.
The many benefits of l-tyrosine supplementation on the body include the following:
- Relieving stress & depression
- Boosting memory
- Treating ADD
- Improving cognitive function
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving thyroid function
Let us discuss some of them in detail below.
Reducing stress is essential to overall health, as it can lower chronic inflammation and disease throughout the body. It is clearly shown that those who supplement with tyrosine have lower stress hormone levels and more energy than those who are deficient in this amino acid.
It has been shown in many studies that tyrosine is able to affect the level of neurotransmitters, as well as the ability of toxins to damage nerves. This means that your risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, is significantly lowered. Ensuring proper neurotransmitter production keeps neural pathways open and functioning, protecting your memory.
The ingestion of tyrosine is shown to improve cognitive function during acute stressors like cold, high altitude, and sleep deprivation. It also improves creative thinking and the speed of switching between two tasks.
As mentioned, this amino acid is a precursor to thyroxine, an important thyroid hormone. For people who suffer from hypothyroidism, stimulating normal hormone production can mitigate some of the side effects of this common condition.
This amino acid is also beneficial to reduce diastolic blood pressure in acute stress situations.
The ability of the body to communicate effectively with different organ systems is what allows us to function on a daily basis. Tyrosine is essential to this constant communication of the nervous system, as well as the muscles in the body. For athletes and those trying to get rapid results from their workouts, it is important to maximize muscle function, which this amino acid can do.
Attention Deficit Disorders
Research has found that having sufficient levels of this amino acid in the brain can help to focus and concentrate, which can control some of the worst symptoms of ADD. It is also a key part in the production of dopamine and epinephrine, two hormones which are often out of line with people suffering from ADD.
The critical role this amino acid plays in the production of neurotransmitters means that it can have a measurable impact on mood and symptoms of depression. By stimulating the production and release of dopamine – one of the “feel good” hormones, it can help to eliminate the psychological torment of depression. The sedative effect that this amino acid can have – in terms of stress hormones – can help people with insomnia achieve better sleep, and even aid in the regulation of Circadian rhythms.
It is a birth defect that increases levels of phenylalanine in people with (PKU). This also leads to lower levels of tyrosine and affects the vital functions associated with it. Tyrosine supplementation is recommended by physicians in order to prevent the levels from becoming too low.
Tyrosine Food Sources
If you want to improve your intake of this amino acid, you should increase certain foods in your diet, including the following:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wild rice
In the diet, the recommended amount of this amino acid is between 2.2 and 2.6 grams per day.
If you are taking this amino acid in supplement form, the recommended dosage ranges from 2 to 20 grams per day, which should be broken up into three different chunks and consumed with food. Additional supplements can help the body’s uptake of this amino acid, such as vitamin B6 or copper, which can speed its conversion into useful neurotransmitters.
Tyrosine Side Effects
There are some side effects when an excessive amount of tyrosine is in the body, such as the following complications:
- Grave’s Disease
This amino acid is used to make thyroxine, which is a thyroid hormone. For people who already have elevated thyroid levels or Grave’s disease, supplementation of this amino acid can make the conditions worse. Similarly, the effect that this compound has on hormones makes it unpredictable for women who are pregnant or nursing, and should, therefore, be avoided.