What is L-Tyrosine?

L-tyrosine (also know as tyrosine) is one of the 20 amino acids that your body uses to produce proteins.  Tyrosine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid.  This means means that under most conditions, your body is able to produce tyrosine from the essential amino acid, phenylalanine.  However, in some situations, such as illness or severe dietary restriction, you may not be able to produce enough.  Though in general most people consume enough tyrosine/phenylalanine in their diet, taking additional tyrosine can still be beneficial


What does Tyrosine do?

Your body converts tyrosine into dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters responsible for happiness, focus, wakefulness and motivation.  In addition, tyrosine is also required for the production of thyroid hormones.

What can Tyrosine do for me?

Well, if you are well rested, relaxed and not under any type of physical stress, not a whole lot.

Studies indicate that tyrosine’s true super powers are reserved for those of us who are stressed out, sleep deprived or under physical stress.  Under these conditions, tyrosine has been shown to have powerful cognitive boosting effects.  Tyrosine supplementation has been clinically shown to maintain cognitive function during hypothermia, periods of prolonged wakefulness and during exercise heat stress.

In addition to helping maintain cognition during physical stress, tyrosine is also gaining popularity as a natural remedy for anxiety.  In the brain, tyrosine is converted to dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.  It is theorized that this boost in dopamine levels is what decreases anxiety symptoms.


Can Tyrosine boost sport performance?

This is a complicated question because the answer is both yes and no.  Will tyrosine help you build massive muscles and increase your VO2max?  No.  Will tyrosine help you stay focused and making clear decisions when you are physically exhausted? Yes.


Who should steer clear of tyrosine supplementation?

Tyrosine supplementation is not for everyone.

Some situations where tyrosine should be avoided:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Use of levodopa
  • Use of MAO inhibitors and other antidepressants
  • Hyperthyroidism
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