When people get depressed, the modern medical answer is to give them antidepressant medications that force the brain to keep dopamine in the gaps between neurons. Acting as an electrical conductor, serotonin helps the brain transmit messages from neuron to neuron, increasing activity, and elevating mood. Dopamine is especially helpful in activating the centers in the brain that feel pleasure after pleasurable activities.
If there simply is not enough dopamine in the brain in the first place, antidepressant medications will not help. The amino acid L-tyrosine is the brain’s building block of dopamine and taking L-tyrosine sometimes defeats depression all on its own. Here are key facts to remember about L-tyrosine:
- L-tyrosine benefits depend on when you take the supplement. You should build up your brain’s L-tyrosine levels before you take any other antidepressant medication. Taking antidepressants and L-tyrosine at the same time probably will not cause harm, but they will obscure each other’s effects. Think of L-tyrosine as home first aid for depression that you start before you escalate to other treatments.
- A typical L-tyrosine dosage is 1,500 mg a day. Taking more is not necessary. Taking less may not be enough to make a difference. It’s best to take L-tyrosine on an empty stomach when your body is not processing any other amino acids.
- L-tyrosine benefits are greatest for people who are under stress. L-tyrosine side effects can occur in people who have migraines. Don’t take supplemental L-tyrosine if you get migraine headaches or if you are taking L-dopa for Parkinson’s disease.
The Many Benefits of L-Tyrosine Amino Acid
The benefits of L-tyrosine stem from the fact that it facilitates many processes related to brain functioning. As you may now know, tyrosine is one of the non-essential amino acids that are used by your body for important functions and processes.
What does tyrosine do?
Tyrosine helps stimulate the nervous system to keep it functioning well. It helps synthesize several brain chemicals and neurotransmitters that control pain, helps regulate your appetite and facilitates stabilizing your body’s reaction to stress factors. It helps regulate your moods and helps stimulate your nervous system to keep it functioning properly. The body literally can not function properly without an adequate supply of L-tyrosine.
Neurotransmitters are central in body functioning mainly because they are the main chemical messengers that transport information from the brain to the rest of your body. Tyrosine plays an important role in the synthesis of three neurotransmitters, namely, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. The effect of L-tyrosine on these neurotransmitters is the main reason why this non-essential amino acid has health benefits in your body.
Your body has the natural ability to produce L-tyrosine. However, ironically, this non-essential amino acid is produced only via the essential amino acid called phenylalanine, which the body can not produce naturally. Some people might need to take in L-tyrosine supplements for the body to function well. You may need to take L-tyrosine to overcome specific health conditions, or for therapeutic purposes, while others may need to take supplements due to the lack of it in their diets.
Health Benefits of Taking L-Tyrosine Supplements
Here are some of the most widely-known tyrosine benefits:
Tyrosine and the Brain
Tyrosine helps produce neurotransmitters. By virtue of this, L-tyrosine can also prove helpful in treating a variety of brain conditions including, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, narcolepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome and dementia.
Tyrosine and Stress
If you are under a lot of stress often, you can benefit from tyrosine. During stressful situations, your brain may fail to synthesize adequate amounts of tyrosine from phenylalanine. There is that added threat of neurotransmitter depletion rate higher than the rate of their rate of production. L-tyrosine supplements can offset some of the negative effects that stress brings.
Tyrosine and Depression
l-tyrosine also has been seen to have significant effects in fighting depression. The amino acid has the ability to regulate moods.
Tyrosine and Thyroid
L-tyrosine is also closely linked to thyroid function. Tyrosine is facilitates the production of the hormone thyroxin in the thyroid.
L-Tyrosine and Menopause
In relation to mood swings and the effect of L-tyrosine on them, this nutrient has also been used widely by women undergoing menopause to battle symptoms such as depression, fatigue, appetite loss, and headaches. It can also be used by women going through premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Serotonin, Tyrosine, and Dopamine
The effect of L-tyrosine on brain functions is complicated. However, in the brain, tyrosine helps regulate dopamine and serotonin levels. High serotonin levels translate to a deep sense of relaxation, while high dopamine levels produce sharpness, well-being, and mental alertness.
The benefits of L-tyrosine can be taken full advantage of with the intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine-rich food sources as well as supplements. However, care must be taken not to overuse or take too much, as it has potentially detrimental effects.
L-Tyrosine Dosage – Can You Take Too Much L-Tyrosine?
L-tyrosine is naturally present in animal and vegetable proteins such as chicken, fish, nuts, bananas, dairy sources, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. However, some people have increased tyrosine need that is why supplementation is necessary. Tyrosine taken in its supplemental form is available as L-tyrosine 500 mg free form tablets and L-tyrosine powder supplement. The powder form contains 660 mg of tyrosine in every 1/4 teaspoon. They are available in major health stores worldwide.
Dosage for L-tyrosine
The standard recommended L-tyrosine dose is about 1000 milligrams for achieving a mental and physical boost. This is also the standard tyrosine dosage for depression. This translates to about one or two tyrosine tablets a day and one or two teaspoons daily. L-tyrosine supplements should be taken before meals, preferably 30 minutes before, and divided into two or three doses daily. Tyrosine supplements are best taken as a multivitamin-mineral complex mainly because vitamins B6, B9, folic acid, and the copper mineral help in the conversion of L-tyrosine into the important brain chemicals, that are most useful.
A dose of 500 milligrams to 1500 milligrams per day of supplemental tyrosine is mostly recommended for those taking it for stress management, weight loss, and bodybuilding.
The total amount of tyrosine dose taken in one day should not exceed 12,000 milligrams or 12 grams as it can lead to toxicity. A few people have reported instances of anxiety, insomnia, restlessness and overstimulation, heart palpitations, and arrhythmia due to high doses of tyrosine.
L-Tyrosine Side Effects
There are no reports of any serious tyrosine side effects. It is not known, however, whether or not long-term use of L-tyrosine, most especially in large amounts of more than 1,000 mg, is safe, so if you intend to take this drug for more than 2 weeks, you should be regularly monitored by your physician.
Side effects of tyrosine have been reported in a few, occasional cases. Side effects of taking too much L-tyrosine include mild to moderate chest pains, breathing problems, tightness in the chest or throat areas, skin hives, itchy or swollen skin, or rashes (allergic reactions). Rare side effects such as headache, fatigue, changes in the heart rate, mood changes, irritability, heartburn, and stomach troubles have also been reported.
Safety of Tyrosine
Tyrosine is generally safe to take. However, tyrosine must not be taken in a few cases, such as if you are taking anti-depressants and medicines for Parkinson’s disease, if you have diabetes, or if you are pregnant, and should not be taken by children without good supervision by your doctor.
Foods High in Tyrosine
Fortunately, there are many natural food sources of tyrosine. It is found in most animal and vegetable sources. Foods high in tyrosine include the following:
- Meat sources including fish, chicken, and pork
- Whole grains, wheat, and oats
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
- Fruits such as avocados and bananas
- Legumes, beans, and nuts such as almonds, lima beans, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Even if tyrosine is non-essential and tyrosine is largely available through foods rich in tyrosine, some people have increased needs for tyrosine due to one or several factors, while others suffer from tyrosine deficiency. For example, people going through depression reportedly have low tyrosine levels, as with those who suffer from phenylketonuria (marked by an inability to properly utilize phenylalanine). If you have extremely low levels of tyrosine, you will suffer from a variety of conditions, such as muscle weakness, muscle loss, mood disorders, low protein levels, and liver damage.
If you are one of those who have increased tyrosine levels or suffer from a deficiency of the amino acid, taking in tyrosine through natural tyrosine food sources is not enough. You would need actual tyrosine supplementation through tyrosine tablets or tyrosine powder forms. They are now being sold as individual supplements and sometimes in combination with other amino acids.