The amino acid l-tyrosine has had a profound impact on my life. Does L Tyrosine work? Hell yeah! It was the one thing that gave me personally a kick up ass when I needed it. The health benefits of l tyrosine operate broadly on the bodies stress and anxiety systems by helping to create neurotransmitters needed for alert mental functioning. In short – tyrosine will give you a gentle kick up the butt to get up and get stuff done!
First things first, let’s try to clear up a question that comes up regularly. Are tyrosine and l-tyrosine the same thing?
What Is L-Tyrosine?
Tyrosine is a conditionally essential amino acid which means that the body can make it by itself but only with the right ingredients to hand. You must supply your body with the correct ingredients or precursors. The official name is l-tyrosine because the molecule which you buy is left handed meaning that the side chain is positioned on the left. Don’t get hung up on this if you are buying tyrosine, the product will be the same regardless of the what the flashy label states.
Tyrosine is an essential precursor to some vital neurotransmitters in the brain. As it is conditionally essential your body may not be able to produce enough of it at certain times. This is often the case when you are tired, stressed or lacking in quality foods. Like when you are working long hours, juggling a social life, training at the gym, playing with the kids, sitting in traffic for two hours a day, getting to bed way too late, getting up way too early…. you get the idea.
There is some good research to show that tyrosine supplements can help your body boost the neurotransmitters needed to cope with stressful situations. Note it has no stimulant properties like caffeine but rather functions like modafinil in that it promotes alertness.
Does L Tyrosine Work?
L tyrosine is a precursor to the catecholamine neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Those last two give you a good idea of the root alertness type properties this amino acid delivers. However, the key one that made the huge impact on my life was the increase in dopamine, the ‘motivation’ neurotransmitter.
1. Reduce Depression Symptoms
Top of the list is this amino acids ability to obliterate symptoms of mild depression in quick time. It can work wonders for people whose depression symptoms include: lack of motivation, lack of confidence, lack of get up and go by increasing the dopamine that the brain is able to produce. Dopamine is known to be the key driver in appetite, sexual energy, reward seeking and pleasure seeking.
Additionally the positive impact on norepinephrine can help provide additional energy to combat the ‘I can’t be f*cked to get out of bed’ feeling.
2. Cope Better With Stress
Your brain releases dopamine and norepinephrine when you are under stress and need focus and motivation to handle whatever predicament you are currently in. Stress is not always an acute occurrence, such as your car breaking down on the way to job interview, very often it is low level stress that gets people down. This is more like stress from lack of sleep or overwork than slowly but surely keeps dipping into your supply of the catecholamine neurotransmitters. If there is not the ingredients to produce more then you have a problem and you have stress.
Tyrosine will give your brain the ingredients it needs to replenish the stores of dopaomine and norepinephrine making you feel more focused and less stressed out.
This study found that tyrosine supplementation is so good at enhancing performance under stress that they recommend it be used by U.S. soldiers during combat operations.
3. Keep You Alert
Tyrosine gives me a boost on days when I feel tired from a lack of sleep or training hard. This phenomena is being studied by researchers who have administered tyrosine to sleep deprived subjects and they have found:
After further testing with other doses and timing of administration, tyrosine may prove useful in counteracting performance decrements during episodes of sustained work coupled with sleep loss.
To be honest the effect is not that extreme but it does help and importantly this is not a drug but simply a component of the food we eat. The side effects are minimal.
If you intend to take tyrosine to combat daily low level stress then a standard dose of 500mg should be sufficient.
However, if you want to use tyrosine to reduce symptoms of depression then a larger does will almost certainly be needed. I recommend that you only ever take tyrosine first thing in the morning and at lunchtime as much later in the day and you could find the stimulation affects your sleep.
Start with 1000mg first thing in the morning followed by 1000mg again at lunchtime. Wait an hour and see how this feels? Do you feel alert or jittery? See the bullet points below to work out where to go from here.
- Feeling nice and alert? Stay at this level – this will be your dose to take each day.
- Feeling nothing much? Take 1500mg twice a day tomorrow, repeat these bulletpoints.
- Feeling a jittery like you have had the Grande Filter Coffee? Take no more and scale back 500mg for each dose tomorrow.
Through this process of trial and error you will find your ideal dose. For me it was 1500mg twice a day which I took for about a month. After a month the affect seemed to have worn off, anecdotal reports all suggest that this drop off in effectiveness is fairly common and it seems to be that the brain just doesn’t need any more tyrosine.
L-Tyrosine Side Effects
Very low incidence of side effects are reported by users of this naturally occurring amino acid. However, they can include restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. At very high doses, above 5grams, heart palpitations can occur.
Insomnia effects can be mitigated almost completely by always taking tyrosine 8 hours or more before you intend to go to bed.