Tyrosine

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

As a precursor to several important neurotransmitters, tyrosine appears to have potent stimulating effects on the brain and has been shown to help individuals perform better mentally — aiding focus and alertness as well as inhibiting feelings of stress and fatigue.

Other names for Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine

Where to find Tyrosine

It’s produced naturally in the body, in rather small amounts, from the essential amino acid phenylalanine.

It can also be found in nature within bananas, avocados, and most high-protein foods, like meats, dairy products, and eggs.

Popup: Foods highest in Tyrosine

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Tyrosine

Known as the “antidepressant” amino acid, tyrosine is most commonly used to help lift mood and mental functioning. Some individuals report it’s especially effective for helping reduce stress and mental burnout. Strength athletes have also found it may help boost strength by improving the mind-body connection.

Ways that Tyrosine can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Potentially stimulate the secretion of growth hormone
Ways that Tyrosine can enhance Mental Functioning:
  • Increase mental clarity as the direct precursor to the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine
  • Enhance mood and reduce fatigue by blocking the absorption of the amino acid tryptophan

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Tyrosine deficiency

Deficiency of Tyrosine has been linked to:

  • Low LH (luteinizing hormone) levels
  • Low blood pressure
  • Restless leg syndrome
Potential uses for Tyrosine

Research indicates that Tyrosine may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Depression
  • Stress

DISCUSSION

More about Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid produced from the essential amino acid phenylalaine. A high-ranking precursor to several important neurotransmitters or brain messengers, tyrosine appears to have potent mind-stimulating effects.

Mental pick me up

Tyrosine has been shown to actually block the absorption of another amino acid called tyrptophan to help “pick you up” and prevent the afternoon blahs. Theoretically, if you consume a protein-containing food or a tyrosine supplement about 20 to 30 minutes before eating a high-carbohydrate lunch, you may be able to avoid afternoon sluggishness and increase alertness throughout the day.

Supplementing with tyrosine 30 minutes before a workout may also give you a mental boost a little like caffeine but without the accompanying jitteriness. Experts theorize that tyrosine supplementation may help increase communication from the brain to the muscles, creating greater mind-body connections, which are believed to directly influence strength.

Stress relief

Everyone experiences stress from time to time, and many of us seem to face it on a daily basis. If you sometimes feel like you’re losing mental control from the increasing stress in your life, tyrosine may be worth considering. This is because tyrosine is the precursor to three vital neurotransmitters — epinephrine, norepinephrine (adrenaline), and dopamine.

Animal studies have shown that when stress is increased, levels of norepinephrine are reduced. However, tyrosine supplementation prior to inflicting stress prevents the reduction of norepinephrine.

Tyrosine has been shown to be an effective anti-stress nutrient in humans as well — one study with soldiers showed that those given supplemental tyrosine performed better on mental tests, had fewer complaints, and were more alert. It’s also been shown to reduce the stress many females undergo only once a month — that is, PMS — reducing the depression and irritation that often define this syndrome.

Depression and anxiety

Tyrosine is known as the “antidepressant” amino acid for good reason. Because it is such an important nutrient for mental functioning, it’s been used in clinical settings to help individuals suffering from depression and anxiety and those who suffer from cocaine addictions.

Some research has shown that folks who are dependant on amphetamines to lift their moods are able to reduce the amounts significantly in only a few weeks. Orange juice spiked with nutrients including tyrosine has been shown to help alleviate the depression and irritability that are caused by cocaine withdrawal.

Several other studies have revealed that tyrosine is effective for relieving depression and anxiety, without the side effects so common with drugs used to treat these conditions.

More good news

This important nutrient is also a precursor to the hormones produced in the thyroid and may stimulate the release of growth hormone. In addition, tyrosine is a precursor to norepinephrine, which has been shown to help suppress appetite. Because tyrosine is linked to elevated levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, it’s also believed to help increase sexual interest.

In conclusion

If you’re an “up” person with little stress in your life and a little too much energy, tyrosine probably isn’t a supplement you need to worry about. For the rest of us, tyrosine may help return our bodies to optimal balance for improved mental and physical functioning.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Research suggests one to three grams a day as the most effective amount.

Timing

Tyrosine should always be taken on an empty stomach for optimal absorption. And if taken 30 minutes before a workout, tyrosine may increase intensity and focus in the gym.

Note

Taking tyrosine a half hour before eating is reportedly effective for stimulating energy and mood and/or suppressing appetite.

Synergists of Tyrosine

Used with St. John’s wort, tyrosine may help relieve symptoms of mental and physical burnout.

Safety of Tyrosine

Tyrosine is not recommended for people with high blood pressure or skin cancer.

Drugs that interact with Tyrosine

If you are currently using MAO inhibitors or other antidepressant drugs, tyrosine is not recommended as this combination may raise blood pressure.

Toxicity of Tyrosine

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Banderet, L.E., and Lieberman, H.R., “Treatment with Tyrosine, a Neurotransmitter Precursor, Reduces Environmental Stress in Humans,” Brain Res Bull 22 (1989) : 759-62.
  • Deijen, J.B., et al., “Tyrosine Improves Cognitive Performance and Reduces Blood Pressure in Cadets After One week of a Combat Training Course,” Brain Res Bull 48.2 (1999) : 203-9.
  • Gelenberg, A.J., et al., “Tyrosine for Depression,” J Psychiatr Res 17.2 (1982-83) : 175-80.
  • Gelenberg, A.J., and Gibson, C.J., “Tyrosine for the Treatment of Depression,” Nutr Health 3.3 (1984) : 163-73.
  • van Praag, H.M., “In Search of the Mode of Action of Antidepressants: 5-HTP/Tyrosine Mixtures in Depression,” Adv Biochem Psychopharmacol 39 (1984) : 301-14.