Stressed Out? Why L-Tyrosine Can Help You Recover
By: Spencer Brooks
- L-tyrosine (also just called tyrosine) is a nootropic supplement that enhances your brain, mood, and stress response.
- Tyrosine is a precursor for three important neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. When stress depletes your neurotransmitter stores, tyrosine helps replenish them, allowing you to stay mentally sharp for longer, especially when you’re under pressure.
- L-tyrosine is also great for boosting mood. Studies show it helps with some types of depression.
- L-tyrosine is common in food, but to get its brain-boosting, stress-relieving benefits, you want purified tyrosine in supplement form. Read on to learn about the right dosage and best source of l-tyrosine.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid (the building block of a protein) with some pretty cool benefits for your brain, mood, stress recovery, and more.
Getting plenty of tyrosine, either through diet or from a supplement, can make a major difference in your brain function. That’s because tyrosine is a precursor to some of the most important neurotransmitters in your brain. Your brain turns tyrosine into three major neurotransmitters:
- Dopamine, for mood and motivation
- Norepinephrine, for muscle recovery and blood flow
- Adrenaline, for focus and drive
When you’re under physical or mental stress, your neurotransmitter bank account can start to run low. But if you have plenty of tyrosine in your bloodstream, it replenishes the neurotransmitters before stress can deplete them, allowing you to stay sharp for longer without getting burned out.
And because tyrosine is a building block for so many major brain chemicals, it benefits you in a lot of different ways. Let’s take a look at the main benefits of tyrosine, and how you can make sure your brain gets plenty of it.
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Relieves stress and helps you focus
Stress depletes your brain’s norepinephrine stores, and when norepinephrine runs low, your memory, focus, and general cognition all suffer.
If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, tyrosine can help. Tyrosine keeps your brain performing at its best during stress and improves your focus during tasks that demand mental endurance. In this way, tyrosine is a nootropic: it helps your brain tackle challenges without getting burned out.
There are plenty of other ways to ease stress too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out these six ways to become more resilient to stress.
Tyrosine improves mood and can ease depression
Tyrosine also turns into dopamine, a central neurotransmitter that controls pleasure and motivation. Dopamine also influences serotonin, and together the two play a central role in regulating your mood.
If you’re feeling blue, tyrosine may be able to help. Depressed women who took tyrosine saw an improvement in mood. When they switched to placebo, the improvement disappeared, and when they went back to tyrosine, the improvement returned, suggesting that tyrosine really does improve symptoms of depression.
It’s worth noting, however, that there have also been studies on tyrosine for depression that found no benefit. Depression is complicated and depends on a lot of different factors; it could be that tyrosine helps with some types and not with others. Whether or not it works for you may depend on your personal biology.
That said, there aren’t any notable risks or side effects to taking tyrosine, so if you want to lift your mood, tyrosine is worth a try.
Should you take tyrosine for your thyroid?
Tyrosine is also a precursor to levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone that’s low in people with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It seems reasonable to think that tyrosine would be great for you if you have an underactive thyroid, but that might not be true.
In mice, tyrosine replenished thyroid hormones that were low due to stress, but in humans, there’s no evidence that tyrosine improves thyroid function. In fact, some hormone doctors report that patients who take tyrosine see a further decrease in thyroid function. In theory, that could happen because tyrosine boosts norepinephrine, which regulates thyroid hormones and is already often too high in people with hypothyroidism.
L-tyrosine supplements: side effects, source, and dosage
You can get tyrosine from foods like chicken, turkey, fish, and cheese, but if you want the cognitive benefits of tyrosine, you’re better off taking a supplement.
Purified tyrosine gets pushed to neurotransmitter synthesis, while tyrosine in food ends up going to your muscles along with all the rest of the amino acids you eat.
Fortunately, tyrosine supplements are inexpensive and very effective. They’re also quite safe; there are no major reported side effects of tyrosine, even when people took it three times a day at higher doses.
Make sure you get 100% pure, high-quality tyrosine with no fillers, preservatives, artificial colors, or other junk ingredients.
L-tyrosine source: Jarrow L-tyrosine (L-tyrosine and tyrosine are the same thing)
L-tyrosine dosage: 500 mg
Time of day to take: Anytime, especially if you’re stressed