L-Tyrosine is an amino acid supplement which is said to have many great benefits.
It can help with improving mood, enhancing mental clarity and memory, and may even be able to control weight.
While most people would appreciate those improvements, L-tyrosine has even more to offer.
This naturally occurring supplement can reduce stress, and help you perform better under difficult conditions.
And even better, there are very few reported tyrosine side effects.
Read on to discover more about L-Tyrosine.
What is L-Tyrosine?
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is also known as ‘Tyrosine’.
When shopping for supplements you may see either name used.
The ‘L’ stands for ‘Levo’ and it shows that the formula of tyrosine in that product is from natural sources rather than being a synthetic lab-made version.
It is thought that natural versions of chemicals are better absorbed than their synthetic counterparts.
The name ‘tyrosine’ means ‘cheese’ in greek, as the amino acid was first discovered in 1846, in casein which is the main protein in cheese.
L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, so our body does produce it naturally, although some people may benefit from supplementing.
As an amino acid, tyrosine acts as a building block for many other proteins in the body.
It is made up from phenylalanine, and in turn makes the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and dopamine, among others.
You may have heard of these neurotransmitters, as they are important to our mood and stress responses.
Feeling too tired to go to the gym or lost motivation?
L-tyrosine is said to support energy and motivation, increase focus and mental clarity, and improve stress response and mood.
Taking tyrosine as a preworkout supplement can help to keep you engaged and motivated in achieving your targets.
Because this amino acid is a stimulant, it may interact with other drugs and supplements.
This is very likely in the case of certain MAOI antidepressants.
Tyrosine can also increase problems that occur as a result of hyperthyroid conditions.
What Does L-Tyrosine Do?
Now we know what it is, let’s find out what tyrosine does…
As an amino acid, tyrosine has a part in building nearly all the proteins in the human body.
It also plays an important part in the production of various neurotransmitters and hormones.
When made naturally in the body, L-tyrosine is built from phenylalanine.
What is Phenylalanine?
You may have seen warnings on food packaging stating ‘contains a source of phenylalanine’.
These warnings are for people who have phenylketonuria, or PKU.
Having PKU means that the body cannot use phenylalanine to build tyrosine.
People who have it must avoid taking in too much phenylalanine, as it will just build up and cause problems, rather than being converted into other useful chemicals.
People with PKU must take a tyrosine supplement.
The body then goes on to make the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine from tyrosine.
These chemical messengers are able to make electrical charges which help send signals in the brain, and other parts of the body.
Because of this, tyrosine has been seen to have a beneficial effect on alertness, focus, and attention.
Norepinephrine and epinephrine have also been found to have an influence on the body’s response to stress.
What have researchers found?
One study of soldiers over a 24 hour period showed that tyrosine improved mood, cognitive function and the soldiers’ ability to cope with the physical stresses of high altitude and cold.
Another study, showed that after a week of army training, soldiers who had taken tyrosine were in better shape, both physically and mentally.
The soldiers performed better in cognitive tests at the end of a tough week’s training, and they had lower blood pressure than the placebo group.
This improvement in ability to cope with stress seems to apply to mental stresses too.
One study, subjected participants to a 90-decibel noise as a stressor.
Again, those who had received a dose of L-tyrosine were able to perform better in cognitive tasks attempted one hour after taking the supplement.
Both epinephrine and norepinephrine are thought to play a role in controlling body weight, too.
Higher levels of these chemicals in the body have been linked to reduced appetite and less stored fat.
The potential benefits to athletes and bodybuilders are clear here.
Tyrosine may be able to help boost performance during training and leave you feeling clear and relatively stress-free afterwards.
Another neurotransmitter that can be made from L-tyrosine is dopamine.
This chemical controls the pleasure and reward areas of the brain.
Dopamine also helps to regulate the emotions and even our movements – again, we can see how this may benefit athletes.
People with low dopamine are more likely to become addicted and seek out thrills by taking risks.
Athletes taking part in ‘ironman’ events and endurance races may like to consider tyrosine for its ability to keep you focused, even when very fatigued.
The supplement was shown to increase mental function in people suffering from fatigue caused by sleep deprivation.
A study by Neri, et al., investigated the effects of tyrosine for people undergoing long periods with no sleep.
Participants were kept awake for over 24 hours and performed a series of cognitive tests throughout the period.
Those who had been given L-tyrosine (at a dose of 150 mg per kg of body weight) performed better, and the improved performance lasted for up to three hours.
When L-tyrosine is used to make hormones it has an indirect influence on many more of the body’s functions.
It is a precursor to melanin, which pigments the hair and skin, and thyroxine, which is important for correct metabolism.
The adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid glands all rely on adequate supplies of tyrosine to function properly.
As L-tyrosine plays such an important part in hormonal balance and nerve impulses, it is also believed that it is a factor in controlling the sex drive.
How Much L-Tyrosine Should You Consume?
This depends on you as a person, considering your body weight and the reasons why you are taking tyrosine.
What is the recommended l-tyrosine dosage?
Most studies into the effects of L-tyrosine have used either a dose of 10g per day, divided into 5 x 2g doses, or 100-150 mg per kg of bodyweight.
These doses are thought to be safe if taken for up to three months.
No studies have looked at longer term use of this supplement, or at higher dosages in humans.
Studies in rats and mice have indicated that there may be complications from very high dosages, but there have been no equivalent human studies.
What Foods Contain L-Tyrosine?
As an amino acid, tyrosine can be found in many protein-rich foods.
But what specific foods can tyrosine be found in?
Dairy products containing tyrosine:
- Cottage cheese
Meats containing tyrosine:
Fish containing tyrosine:
Other products containing tyrosine:
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
When to Take L-Tyrosine
Many of you will be wondering when is the best to take this supplement is.
Well, it depends on what you’re taking tyrosine for…
Taking one 500mg capsule of tyrosine per day is enough to boost moods and relieve symptoms of anxiety.
People recommend to take this on an empty stomach, in the morning.
When should I take tyrosine for the most effective workout results?
Studies showing the best anti-stress results involved taking L-tyrosine 30-60 minutes before exercise.
If doing this causes stomach problems, you can split the dose into two parts and take one 60 minutes before your workout, and one 30 minutes before.
The effects of tyrosine have been shown to be present from about one to three hours after consumption.
Remember that this supplement has stimulant effects so it isn’t a good idea to take before trying to sleep.
L-Tyrosine Side Effects
Tyrosine is generally thought to be a safe supplement in doses of up to 150 mg per kg of body weight for up to three months.
However, it does interact with some medications and condition, therefore it is potentially unsafe for some people.
What are the side effects of tyrosine?
Usually, the worst side effects seen as a result of taking this supplement are possible sickness, diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramping.
Larger doses are most likely to cause these symptoms.
Migraine sufferers have reported an increase in attacks after taking L-tyrosine.
Scientists believe that this may be because of an abnormality in the way the bodies of migraine sufferers break down the chemical which results in a buildup of waste products.
People with an inability to break down tyramine are diagnosed with tyrosinemia.
If tyrosinemia patients take too much L-tyrosine they can develop skin and eye lesions.
Doses above 150 mg per kg of bodyweight, per day, are thought of as high doses.
Doses higher than this have increased the heart rate and blood pressure of test subjects, so anyone with heart or blood pressure problems needs to be aware of potential problems.
Rapid increases in blood pressure can also happen if patients who are taking MAOI antidepressants take tyrosine.
There are fears that this could lead to heart attack or stroke.
People who have Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism should not take L-tyrosine because of its interactions with the thyroid gland.
Parkinson’s disease patients are often prescribed L-Dopa.
This medicine interacts with tyrosine, which may make L-Dopa ineffective.
Therefore Parkinson’s patients are advised not to take L-tyrosine supplements.
Do You Need to Cycle L-Tyrosine?
Theoretically, it is possible to take too much tyrosine.
This would be easier to do if supplementing, and while following a very high-protein diet with few carbs and high fat.
An overdose could affect the thyroid and lower dopamine levels.
After initially boosting production of dopamine, an excess of L-tyrosine could then cause production to fall.
This would affect mood, and increase anxiety. Scientists have produced these effects in rats and mice, but only after prolonged dosing with very large amounts of L-tyrosine.
In healthy humans keeping to the manufacturers’ recommended dosages, it is unlikely that there would be any long-term effects from taking tyrosine.
However, no studies have lasted long enough to determine whether these effects do happen from long-term supplementation.
Signs of too much L-tyrosine and a subsequent drop in dopamine and serotonin could include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Changes in memory and cognition
- Numb hands and feet
- Tremors and muscle spasms
L-Tyrosine is a naturally occurring amino acid which is commonly used by bodybuilders and athletes.
Performance benefits range from decreased stress responses, through weight control to improved cognition and memory.
As a stimulant, it is unwise to take tyrosine before bed, but otherwise, there are few side effects from taking it in doses of up to 150 mg per kg, for up to three months.
Don’t forget that it will interact with MAOI antidepressant medications, and is not recommended if you suffer from thyroid problems.