An essential amino acid for our health is Phenylalanine, which we acquire from food. Our body changes phenylalanine in to tyrosine, which is non-essential amino acid that is used to make proteins and neurotransmitters or brain chemicals, including norepinephrine, epinephrine,dopamine, and thyroid hormones.
Neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate and influence mood. Tyrosine also helps in the function of organs responsible for making and regulating hormones, including the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands. L-Tyrosine can also be metabolized into glucose and used for energy production.
Tyrosine works as a converter for the neurotransmitter epinephrine, by converting it into an amino acid that is released from your adrenal gland. Epinephrine is more widely known as adrenalin, which we all know increases our heart rate and breathing. This in turn produces oxygen-rich blood that travels to your brain and muscles, which increases your energy, sharpens your senses, improves your memory, and decreases your pain sensitivity. Tyrosine produces epinephrine in times of stress or danger so you are better able to cope with the situation.
Dopamine helps us stay motivated and assertive throughout the day. Tyrosine helps make this neurotransmitter. Dopamine allows your to deal with your daily stresses and problems. However, lack of sleep and too much stress can lower your dopamine levels, making your brain less active.
One of the effects that Tyrosine supplementation has on our brain is cognitive improvements. It helps to reduce the effects of both stress and fatigue on cognitive task performance, which makes it easier for us to stay focused while studying or working for long periods of time.
Research done at the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Amsterdam studied the effects of the amino acid tyrosine on cognitive task performance on a group of 21 cadets during a demanding military combat training course. Ten subjects received a protein-rich drink containing 2g of tyrosine daily for five days, and the other 11 subjects were given a carbohydrate rich drink with the same amount of calories.
Assessments were made of the cadets immediately prior to the combat course, and then on the 6th day of the course. The group supplied with the tyrosine-rich drink performed better on a memory and a tracking task than the group supplied with the carbohydrate-rich drink.
These findings suggest that supplementation with tyrosine may, under operational circumstances characterized by psychosocial and physical stress, reduce the effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive task performance.
Another effect of Tyrosine supplementation is that it can help protect us against the effects of stress. When we experience stress, our brains release noradrenaline, or norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter. Noradrenaline stimulates your central nervous system and increases your energy and mental power. It takes time for our bodies to replenish levels of noradrenaline once they are depleted, which can leave us feeling sluggish. Tyrosine increases the rate of noradrenaline synthesis so that you are less susceptible to stress and do not experience an energy crash.
Another study conducted at the University of Amsterdam in the Department of Psychophysiology tested the effects of tyrosine on performance under stress on 16 healthy young subjects.Subjects were tested on two separate days, one test was given after ingestion of 100mg/kg tyrosine and another test after a placebo, in random order. The tests were performing a number of stress sensitive tasks. Subjects were exposed to a stressor consisting of 90 dB noise.
Tyrosine was found to improve the performance on two cognitive tasks, which were performed 1 hour after administration of tyrosine and which could be characterized as highly sensitive to stress.
How to Supplement with Tyrosine:
For general needs, you should be getting 47 mg (0.047g) of tyrosine for every 1 g of protein in your diet according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.
In 2007 in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience researchers discovered that most studies used anywhere from 2 to 20 grams of tyrosine daily for stress reduction and improved cognitive function
- It may raise thyroid hormone production since it is a precursor for its synthesis, so those with a hyperactive thyroid should be wary
- Additionally, it could theoretically block the uptake from the gut of some drugs that resemble certain amino acids such as levodopa.