If you’re someone who finds it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. Or you find yourself becoming mentally exhausted after small bouts of exercise, then L-Tyrosine might be for you.
L-Tyrosine has been shown to delay the depletion of essential hormones needed for alertness, enhanced focus and mood. Along with better fat metabolism. More on this in just a second.
In my own personal experience when using L-Tyrosine, I was able to hold information for much longer. And my work stamina (both at the computer and during exercise) was extended – along with a greater sense of well-being.
This is why I believe that L-Tyrosine may be suitable for people who have difficulties concentrating. Or for those of you who want to increase your endurance with a positive outlook on life thanks to the increased dopamine production.
Continue reading to discover how L-Tyrosine works:
Table of Contents
What is L-Tyrosine?
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid which produces a feeling of well-being and happiness. It’s also been shown to delay fatigue in the body and mind, allowing for greater mental and physical stamina.
This is thanks to the mechanism behind L-Tyrosine which produce more catecholamines such as dopamine and adrenaline. Thus allowing your mind to work at an enhanced rate.
Furthermore, apart from its ‘mind-enhancing benefits’, it may be beneficial to supplement with L-Tyrosine as it helps to produce the thyroid hormones – triiodothyronine and thyroxine leading to greater fat loss and energy metabolism. (I)
For Reference: Thyroid hormones are important as they regulate the “body’s metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, muscle control, brain development and maintenance of bones”. (II)
L-Tyrosine is created using phenylalanine, which is another essential amino acid found in plant and animal proteins; such as turkey, fish, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, cheese, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds. (III)
How L-Tyrosine Works
Within the brain, dopaminergic cells convert L-Tyrosine into L-DOPA using an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). It’s TH that is the rate-limiting step involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine. (IV)
When L-phenylalanine is consumed (an essential amino acid found in beef, poultry, soy, and dairy), it gets converted into L-tyrosine. From there, L-Tyrosine can be converted into L-DOPA via tyrosine hydroxylase.
To convert L-DOPA into dopamine, it’s decarboxylated via aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase. From there it can then be converted into noradrenaline, and then finally into adrenaline – known as catecholamines.
The rate-limiting step to convert catecholamines is the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase – hence the popularity in using L-Tyrosine supplementation to improve the biosynthesis of adrenaline and dopamine. (V)
How To Take L-Tyrosine? [Doses]
To get the most benefit from using L-Tyrosine, it’s best taken in doses of 500-2000mg roughly 30-60 minutes before any type of acute stressor. This can be exercise or otherwise.
The studies done on humans show great anti-stress potential when using L-Tyrosine at 100-150mg/kg body weight. This can be taken 60 minutes prior to exercise. The average dose range would be 7-14grams per person, depending on weight.
If you find that using these doses affects your stomach, splitting the dose into two or three doses at intervals 60 minutes prior to the stress being implemented will still work effectively.
Using L-Tyrosine may cause interactions with some medications or other supplements that produce L-DOPA. Such as mucuna pruriens, or the chemical form of L-DOPA.
This is because L-Tyrosine gets converted into L-DOPA, therefore, other supplements producing L-DOPA, or the chemical form may work in competition against each other.
Furthermore, it’s suggested that L-Tyrosine could cause alterations in people who use thyroid hormone medication. This is due in part to the way that L-Tyrosine stimulates activity within the thyroid glands.
Benefits of Using L-Tyrosine
As previously discussed, there are numerous benefits associated with L-tyrosine supplementation; from enhanced memory and brain development, along with better muscle function, to digestive improvements and bone strength.
Endurance & Stamina
While there hasn’t been a lot of research done on physical performance with the use of L-Tyrosine. What I can see when looking at the research is that it can extend performance in several ways through its nootropic mechanisms.
When using L-Tyrosine, it can improve energy levels by delaying the depletion of norepinephrine (stress hormones and neurotransmitters) linked to the release of hormones needed for athletic performance. More on this in just a second.
But first, to highlight this point let’s take a look at a professional tennis player. The professional athlete will need to remain mentally and physically alter for up to 5 hours in some cases.
In the heat of the match, the tennis player will sprint for the ball, use their elite precision to direct the position of the next shot – all within milliseconds. This can take its toll on their adrenal glands linked to hormone release.
As stress builds up from cortisol, adrenaline, and the release of dopamine with every winning shot. Their ‘essential’ bank of hormones will soon be cashed, the account will quickly dry up. This is where we can look to use L-Tyrosine to delay the depletion of these essential hormones.
Lowers Cardiovascular Stress
One double-blind study demonstrates that using L-Tyrosine at 100 mg/kg of body weight when exposed to cardiovascular stressors “(Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) sessions (-50 mm Hg for a maximum of 30 min” – showed that electrical currents connected to enhanced cognition and improved attention were notable. Therefore, this “may indicate enhanced cognitive activation”. (VI)
SUMMARY: L-Tyrosine looks to increase mental alertness in times of physical stress and exhaustion. Therefore, this will provide a cascade of benefits linked to focus and concentration during physically demanding activities. This could be thought of as assisting in sports psychology a.k.a boosting ‘the winning mindset’.
L-Tyrosine works to increase and balance your levels of catecholamines (stress hormones secreted by your adrenal glands) thus helping your mind to retain energy during prolonged bouts of focus and concentration.
How does this happen? This is because L-Tyrosine is a precursor to the production of stress hormones produced by your adrenal glands – located on the top of your kidneys. In simple terms, this means that L-Tyrosine gets converted into stress hormones.
The stress hormones that can be increased when using l-Tyrosine include dopamine; norepinephrine; and epinephrine. Also known as adrenalin or adrenaline.
Your adrenal glands send catecholamines into your blood when needed. Such as during stress (both physical or mental) to improve focus and concentration – thus helping you to retain information, or extend your physical stamina (see Endurance & Stamina section).
However, using l-Tyrosine won’t necessarily increase levels of dopamine, norepinephrine or epinephrine. This is because your body holds a tight grip on how much stress hormones can be created.
But what the research does show is that it can act as a buffer, delaying the reduction of norepinephrine – which is the neurotransmitter that relays information and sends signals into the brain releasing stress hormones.
SUMMARY: L-Tyrosine delays the reduction of norepinephrine – a neurotransmitter that signals for the release of stress hormones and neurotransmitter signals in the brain – thus delaying mental fatigue. (VII)
Norepinephrine, which is the neurotransmitter that works in a similar way to adrenaline; helps to narrow blood vessels in the mind, whilst increasing blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Furthermore, this mind-stimulating neurotransmitter also increases alertness and focus (similar to adrenaline). Studies indicate that depression is often associated with low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.
Studies have also shown that when using 200-400mg/kg of L-Tyrosine, “it can acutely increase noradrenaline (aka. norepinephrine or NE) concentrations in the hippocampus”. (VIII) Thus preventing the loss of NE.
This may be of benefit for those of you who find yourselves in high pressure, stressful situations; as L-Tyrosine can reverse the loss of memory when either in “cold stress situations” or environments which may otherwise quickly deplete your stores of norepinephrine.
For those of you who find it difficult to hold your attention for more than 5 minutes, then you’re not alone. It’s reported that 6.1 million children and 9 million adults in America suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.
It’s been reported that when supplementing with 1,500mg tyrosine and 150mg 5-HTP, it reduced symptoms associated with ADHD.
However, it’s also worth noting that other nutrients were used alongside L-Tyrosine in this study; such as; “1,000mg of vitamin C, 220mg of calcium citrate, 75mg of vitamin B6 and 400μg of folate, 500mg of L-Lysine and 2,500-4,500mg L-cysteine, and 200-400μg of selenium)”. (IX)
So what we can say is that using L-Tyrosine alongside other energy supplying B vitamins and the above mentioned is that it can lessen the effects of ADHD to a degree.
If you’re anything like me, and there’s the odd occasion where you feel the mid-afternoon dip in focus and concentration, then we can look to use L-Tyrosine as a ‘pick me up’.
One study showed that using 150mg/kg of L-Tyrosine was able to extend wakefulness, thus decreasing cognitive decline that was linked to sleep deprivation. (X)
Therefore, if you find yourself burning the midnight oil where sleep is your last priority, then using L-Tyrosine can help to maintain your focus throughout the day.
Sport Nutrition Expert Recommendation?
For a way to prevent mental and physical fatigue, then L-Tyrosine is worth looking into.
L-Tyrosine has been shown to reduce the depletion of stress hormones. It’s these hormones that we need in order to work for extended periods of time. Or simply to perform our chosen sports for longer with enhanced focus and concentration.
The studies indicate using 500-2000mg approximately 30-60 minutes before any type of stress has shown positive results.
Personally, when using L-Tyrosine, I find that my mental focus is heightened. And when I use it before exercise, I can certainly notice a difference in the way I perform. Meaning, I can exercise longer without feeling fatigued so easily.
(I) “Thyroid Hormones.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Jan. 2020. (source)
(II, III) You and Your Hormones, www.yourhormones.info/hormones/thyroxine/. (source)
(IV) “Thyroid Hormones.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Jan. 2020. (source)
(V) Nakashima, A., N. Hayashi, Y S Kaneko, K. Mori, E L Sabban, Toshiharu Nagatsu, and A. Ota. "Role of N-terminus of Tyrosine Hydroxylase in the Biosynthesis of Catecholamines." Journal of Neural Transmission (Vienna, Austria: 1996). U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2009. (source)
(VI) Dollins, A B, LP Krock, WF Storm, R J Wurtman, and H R Lieberman. "L-tyrosine Ameliorates Some Effects of Lower Body Negative Pressure Stress." Physiology & Behavior. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 1995. (source)
(VII) Fernstrom, John D, and Madelyn H Fernstrom. "Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, and Catecholamine Synthesis and Function in the Brain." The Journal of Nutrition. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2007. (source)
(VIII) Yeghiayan, S K, S. Luo, B. Shukitt-Hale, and H R Lieberman. "Tyrosine Improves Behavioral and Neurochemical Deficits Caused by Cold Exposure." Physiology & Behavior. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2001. (source)
(IX) Hinz, Marty, Alvin Stein, Robert Neff, Robert Weinberg, and Thomas Uncini. "Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with Monoamine Amino Acid Precursors and Organic Cation Transporter Assay Interpretation." Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. Dove Medical Press, 26 Jan. 2011. (source)
(X) Neri, DF, D. Wiegmann, R R Stanny, S A Shappell, A. McCardie, and DL McKay. "The Effects of Tyrosine on Cognitive Performance during Extended Wakefulness." Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1995. (source)