L-Tyrosine is a potent nootropic that can be used to boost brain function in a variety of useful ways.
While L Tyrosine is quite powerful when used properly, it is also very safe.
L-Tyrosine has been extensively studied under a wide variety of conditions and for a great number of different benefits, making it one of the best-known and understood supplements in its class.
In this article, learn what L Tyrosine is, how it works, side effects and contraindications, how to use L-Tyrosine, how much to take, major benefits and much more.
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What Is L Tyrosine?
L-Tyrosine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that the brain uses to make important neurotransmitters and maintain optimal function.
In the brain, L Tyrosine is used as a precursor (building block) to make dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine. Each of these is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for different brain functions.
To avoid confusion going forward, L Tyrosine, L-Tyrosine and Tyrosine are all terms that refer to the same amino acid.
To better understanding what L Tyrosine is and why it is so important for optimal brain performance, it can help to learn about the main functions of each neurotransmitter L-Tyrosine makes.
- Dopamine - Regulates cognitive function, mood and motivation, movement, learning and stress response.
Adrenaline (Epinephrine) - Helps to regulate heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and other key aspects of the body's "fight or flight" stress response.
- Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline & Adrenaline) - Mobilizes the body's "fight or flight" stress response. Norepinephrine is also responsible for balancing mood, improving concentration and ready the body and brain for activity.
L Tyrosine in supplement form is a nootropic. The word nootropic means a substance that is known to improve brain function.
More than 200 different known nootropics exist today. Some are naturally-occurring, such as L-Tyrosine, while others are human-made. In order for a substance to be considered nootropic, it must meet five specific criteria as follows:
- Improve memory and learning.
- Boost brain function under stress.
- Be protective of the brain.
- Improve sub/cortical function.
- Be non-toxic and relatively free from side effects.
These five criteria come from the so-named "father of nootropics," a researcher and scientist named Dr. Cordeliu Giurgea.
Dr. Giurgea famously created the name nootropic and produced the first synthetic nootropic, which was made for use by Russian cosmonauts. The nootropic he designed, piracetam, is still in use today.
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What Is L Tyrosine Used For?
L Tyrosine can be used to address a wide variety of cognitive performance goals as well as to treat certain specific health conditions.
Some uses for L-Tyrosine have been extensively studied and verified by researchers, while others are still being studied or have yet to be explored.
However, one of the most common uses for L-Tyrosine today is for mental performance.
Many people who are perfectly healthy in all other ways choose to take Tyrosine to boost mental alertness and focus, improve stress management, increase available energy and perform at their best.
Happily, research study results published by the Psychological Journal highlight how taking L Tyrosine supplements provide equal benefits regardless of gender or age. Both young and older adults were studied and Tyrosine provided similar cognitive benefits to both groups.
What Are L Tyrosine Side Effects?
L Tyrosine has no major reported side effects even when taken multiple times per day at higher doses.
The most common patient-reported side effects are typically temporary and quick to pass. These side effects include headache and gastrointestinal issues (stomach ache, indigestion).
It is always wise to talk with your doctor or holistic practitioner before adding anything new to your healthcare regimen, including Tyrosine.
This is especially the case if you are pregnant, lactating or trying to conceive, or if you are taking medication to manage a serious health condition.
For example, because L Tyrosine is a precursor to several important neurotransmitters, it may interfere with certain medications that are either designed to serve a similar purpose or can produce similar effects.
Examples of medications that may interact with L Tyrosine include these:
- Medications to manage blood pressure
- Medications to treat thyroid disease
- Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
If you are currently being treated with medications for the following health conditions, it may be best to postpone taking Tyrosine:
- Parkinson's disease
- Thyroid disease
- Graves disease
As always, talking with your doctor first will rule out the possibility of any interactions that will interfere with L-Tyrosine's effectiveness.
Is L Tyrosine a Stimulant?
While Tyrosine is commonly used as a supplement to enhance cognitive function, it is not considered to be a stimulant in its own right.
However, there are other nootropics, including caffeine and nicotine, that are considered to be both nootropics and stimulants.
Rather than serving to stimulate the brain by increasing nervous activity, Tyrosine simply helps the brain make more of the essential neurotransmitters that can heighten effective stress response by increasing focus, alertness, attention and retention.
There is a fine line that separates a nootropic like Tyrosine from a true stimulant (nootropic or otherwise) but it is an important distinction to make for people who may need to avoid taking stimulants for health reasons.
What Are the Benefits of L Tyrosine?
As a nootropic, L-Tyrosine has many benefits to both your brain and your body. Here are the best-known benefits you can derive from taking Tyrosine.
1. Improves Brain Endurance
Just like professional athletes want to improve body endurance, so too do many mental "athletes" desire to boost brain endurance to achieve all their goals.
In one innovative older research study, researchers paired these two goals by studying how supplementing with L Tyrosine impacted the performance of military cadets during training.
The study results conclusively demonstrated that L-Tyrosine both improved the cadets' performance cognitively and also served to lower their blood pressure during a stressful combat training course.
2. Eases Depression & Mood Imbalance
Depression can arise due to a number of different triggers, both mental and physical.
The Annals of Neurosciences journal published the results of an interesting research study showing how the neurotransmitter-boosting properties of L Tyrosine supplementation had an anti-depressant effect on laboratory rats.
In other ongoing research, Tyrosine is being explored as a supplement to ease systemic stress and possible depression brought on by exposure to environmental toxins.
3. Relieves Acute & Chronic Mental Stress
Over time, continued exposure to mental stressors can create a situation ripe for cognitive decline.
Some research studies have found that Tyrosine helps to reverse the impact of such systemic stressors and subsequently improve cognitive function even in future stressful conditions.
4. Helps You Focus "Working Memory" Effectively
"Working memory" is a term that refers to the brain's activity in the present moment as it works to capture, process and store information.
While the concept of multi-tasking continues to be popular and many people aspire to it, data suggests it is quite literally impossible to do more than one task at any given time.
What is possible and is supported by research is that some people have an improved ability to rapidly move from one task to the next task.
So when you can improve your present-moment focus, this improves your working memory so you can complete each task more quickly and move to the next one.
Supplementing with L Tyrosine has been shown to improve working memory in an environment set up to encourage attempts at multi-tasking under high-stress conditions.
5. Effective To Treat Phenylketonuria
Phenylketonuria, or PKU, is a hereditary health condition that impairs the body's ability to make phenylalanine hydroxylase, an enzyme that is a necessary precursor to make Tyrosine. People with PKU often experience cognitive deficits due to insufficiency of phenylalanine hydroxylase.
A review of available research suggests that people diagnosed with PKU can benefit from taking supplemental Tyrosine, which prevents phenylalanine from building up in the body.
More research is needed to determine impact, especially on adolescent patients.
How to Take L Tyrosine for Best Results?
L Tyrosine is naturally-occurring, which means it is found naturally in the human body and in many foods, including chicken, fish, turkey, cheese, seaweed, soy, pumpkin and game meats.
So why not just take L-Tyrosine by changing your diet? There are two main reasons why it can help to supplement Tyrosine, even if you get plenty from your daily meals.
L-Tyrosine from food is used by the whole body and is absorbed first by your muscles. But when you supplement with additional L Tyrosine in supplement form, there is more available Tyrosine that can go directly towards boosting brain function.
Because Tyrosine has few patient-reported side effects and those that can occur tend to be fleeting, most manufacturer guidelines indicate a daily dose of between 500mg and 2,000mg.
L-Tyrosine can be taken on its own or along with other nootropics (this is called "stacking").
As you are considering when and how to add Tyrosine to your daily health and wellness regimen, try not to let all of the information in this article become overwhelming, even though it is easy to do.
Instead, just consider what your ultimate goal is for taking L-Tyrosine. Do you want increased mental focus? Are you aiming to improve your memory and recall? Could you benefit from some help with managing your mental stress and anxiety?
L Tyrosine can help with all of these goals and more. It is always smart to start out taking the lowest dose recommended by the supplement manufacturer until you see how your body reacts. Then you can increase your dose slowly until you get the desired result.
You may also want to start out taking L Tyrosine earlier in the day to maximize the benefits of increased mental alertness and focus without interfering with your sleep.
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Shannon is a freelance writer and author of three books. Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that provide readers with practical, actionable tools to make healthy life choices.