Our body is composed of many amino acids. Each amino acids has its own role for the body, like tyrosine, which is essential for focus, alertness, and attention.
Tyrosine is similar to the other amino acids which are naturally produced by the body. However, unlike the other amino acids, tyrosine is created by phenylalanine—another kind of amino acid. But even if this amino acid is produced by the body, it can still add up through food absorption. Basically, it is found in cheese which is the root of its discovery. But aside from cheese, it is also available in other food such as poultry (including turkey and chicken), fish, and other dairy goods.
Did you know that in the Greek language, the word “tyros” means cheese?
Tyrosine is not your ordinary amino acid, as it is responsible for making many kinds of other vital substances such as:
- Adrenaline and noradrenaline: when your body responds to a specific situation, whether it is to fight or to flee; these two hormones are responsible for that reaction.
- Dopamine: this brain chemical is connected to your feeling of pleasure and reward. Additionally, it is vital for motor skills and memory.
- Melanin: people have different hair color, eye color, and skin color. These differences are a product of the pigment melanin. For instance, individuals who have dark complexion signify that their body possesses a lot of melanin.
- Thyroid hormones: the thyroid glands produce the thyroid hormones, and this hormone is the one that controls your metabolism.
No wonder, many manufacturers come up in making tyrosine dietary supplements to increase the neurotransmitter level of some of the mentioned produced substances of tyrosine. Elevating these neurotransmitters are associated with the improvements of your memory and your ability to deal with stressful situations as well as other advantages.
Tyrosine Helps Increase Mental Performance
Stress is a normal occurrence in every individual. Everyone has it even at small levels. In fact, once a stressful situation occurs, it affects your attention, reasoning, knowledge, and memory negatively. This is because stress decreases the neurotransmitters in your body.
Helps with memory issues
An animal study was conducted to prove this point. Researchers use rodents in the study and they exposed them in a cold environment. The researchers observed that the rodents had an impaired memory because of the stressful environment (i.e., cold) lower their level of neurotransmitters. But after supplying the rodents with tyrosine supplement, researchers observe that their neurotransmitter increase; thus, their mental performance increases as well.
However, an animal study may not point the same influence if tyrosine supplement is given in humans. Thus, researchers conduct a human study as well. They gather 22 participants. Some of the participants are given supplement while others are just placebo. After the test completion, the researchers found that participants with tyrosine supplements have better cognitive flexibility compared with the placebo.
Cognitive flexibility is a person’s ability to shift from thought and task. Meaning, if he can switch thought and task quickly, he has high cognitive flexibility.
Thus, the supplement has a short-term effect in cognitive performance, boosting your memory especially in stressful situations. Nevertheless, there is no proof to back up physical performance enhancement when being supplied with tyrosine.
What’s more? The supplement has shown a positive effect on people who have a lack of sleep. It has a similar effect as caffeine that can make an individual awake and alert even if he has a sleep deprivation the night prior.
Finally, even if the benefits of the dietary supplement is promising, there is no research yet that can prove its effect without a stressor existence. Thus, you may not feel a boost in your mental performance when no one stresses you.
Tyrosine May Help with Depression
Studies between tyrosine and depression have a different opinion whether it is helpful or not.
Experts believed that if the brain has an imbalance neurotransmitter, it causes depression. Thus, most of the prescribed antidepressant helps to restore the balance of neurotransmitters, realigning it in the process as well.
Earlier, you learn that tyrosine increases the level of neurotransmitter. Because of this knowledge, it is believed that the amino acid, as well as the supplement, can help with the depression condition.
On the contrary, a study disproved this claim.
Researchers supply 65 depressed people with the following:
- 2.5 mg antidepressant
- 100 mg tyrosine
After giving the mentioned antidepressant to the individuals for a month, they found no significant effect with the tyrosine supplementation.
Many would agree that depression is not a simple disease. Thus, it cannot be solved by simply supplying your body with food and medications. However, people who are suffering from it and has a low level of noradrenaline, adrenaline, and dopamine, may have an advantage if they feed their body tyrosine.
Overall, further studies are needed to find the effect of tyrosine among depressed individuals.
The Negative Effects of Tyrosine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) marks tyrosine as GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe” product. If you supplied your body every day in three months with 68 mg dosage per pound (that is equal to 150 mg per kilo), it is considered safe.
But while it is generally safe, it is associated with side effects, especially if taking alongside medications.
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs is an antidepressant that blocks monoamine oxidase – an enzyme responsible for breaking down the amino acid called tyramine which manages blood pressure. Thus, combining MAOIs and food high in tyramine can bring your blood pressure in danger. There are no studies to back the effects of combined MAOIs and tyrosine, however, experts advise caution regarding this matter. The foods high tyramine, like cheese, are the foods which also possess tyrosine.
- Thyroid Hormone: Taking tyrosine may elevate the level of your thyroid hormone. The level of thyroid hormones is important to keep in balance. Having too high or too low is considered dangerous. Thus, combining thyroid medications and tyrosine may not be a good idea. Health professionals advise precautions.
- Levodopa (L-dopa): Most individuals with Parkinson’s disease is treated using L-dopa. And taking tyrosine together with L-dopa is not advisable, as it may interfere with the effectiveness of the drug. If the two supplement or medications are necessary to take, health professionals advise to take it in separate hours to avoid the side effects.