Not all supplements changed my life, but, L-tyrosine changed my life for the better.
But there are some things you should know about L-tyrosine before you go and try it too.
I will try to sum it up as quickly and clearly as I can for you here and how to best take L-tyrosine in combination with tryptophan.
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Among the many critical amino acids for life, L-tyrosine comes from protein foods like meats, fish, eggs, and soy.
This important amino acid is required for making the happy-mood compound in the brain called dopamine.
It also is required to make epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Dopamine, made from L-tyrosine, is responsible for helping you feel joy and reward from daily life.Journal of Comparative Neurology
Tyrosine also has many other roles in the body.
- Making thyroid hormone
- Helping improve energy and physical performance
- Increases mental performance
- Potentially improving memory
- Reducing stress
- Increasing brain flexibility
Why can’t I just get L-tyrosine from food?
Tyrosine is found in foods.
Foods that are highest in tyrosine are beef, pork, chicken, fish, and tofu, along with slightly fewer amounts in dairy and legumes.
This critical amino acid is also made from other amino acids in foods like phenylalanine too.
So why can’t some people just get enough L-tyrosine in food?
The problem is this: amino acids get bound up with other amino acids. In the body, they are also made into other proteins.
Because of this, tyrosine is not always at hand to make your happy-brain compounds like dopamine.
After all, you may recall, tyrosine helps with physical performance, so it has a big role in maintaining healthy muscle tissue.
Also, keep in mind that when protein is eaten, its tyrosine is bound to other amino acids, meaning its fate may never be to become dopamine.
Your body uses tyrosine to make other compounds in the body, such as melatonin and coenzyme Q10 too.
Depending on your body’s priorities, your dietary tyrosine may never land you in a happy mood for this reason.
Your body also needs these nutrients, as well as folate, to make tyrosine into dopamine.
Most people run low in one or more of these nutrients.
Some people may even be low in enzymes that make amino acids into tyrosine too.
To sum it up, the only way at this time to know if you will benefit from L-tyrosine is to actually try it.
Why I started taking L-tyrosine
A good friend and colleague of mine got me interested in taking amino acids for mood.
She had taken the Brain Health Assessment quiz from Dr. Amen, a world-recognized expert in brain health. Her experience from there was pretty impactful.
So, I eagerly took the quiz too.
My assessment showed that tryptophan, vitamins, and minerals would be helpful in improving my brain health.
This was great because adding tryptophan helps to make more serotonin, a calming and mood-boosting neurotransmitter.
So, I gave that a try and felt a lot better quickly. I felt calmer and relaxed, my thoughts were less intense almost all of the time.
Two years later, I still find that taking L-tyrosine always brightens my mood.
But, when taking tryptophan, it’s a good idea to balance it out with L-tyrosine too.
What I noticed by adding L-tyrosine
My journey started by taking a different amino acid called tryptophan for helping my mood.
I learned that it isn’t that simple.
If you take tryptophan long-term, it can cause an imbalance in tyrosine and dopamine.International Journal of Tryptophan Research
And I did notice this when I was taking L-tryptophan alone.
During this time, I was feeling less sharp and felt a little less excited about my daily life.
Adding in tyrosine fixed that dullness and more. I feel the best I’ve ever felt, emotionally speaking, on this regimen of supplements.
Specifically, I feel more creative, energetic, and happy.
I’ll put emphasis on the happy part because I definitely noticed that negative thoughts and emotions, while still occasional, would be even more fleeting and short-lived.
And PMS? Forget about it! I don’t need to worry about major mood swings with my periods anymore.
But, I do notice that if I take more than 1000 mg, I do get a headache, so I keep it to that dose, in a ratio of 10:1 with tryptophan.
The brand that I’ve been using that has this ratio is called Neurolink* from Brain MD, which gets thousands of positive reviews. And I’m among the ranks of those with positive reviews. It’s great for me.
Why combine L-tyrosine with L-tryptophan
According to Psychology Today, it is important to balance L-tyrosine with L-tryptophan if you plan on supplementing tyrosine for mood/depression.
This is because taking just one can cause an imbalance in the other in the brain. For example, if you take tryptophan alone, it competes with the enzymes that make dopamine.
In contrast, if you take both in proper ratios, you will make a balance of neurotransmitters.
When supplementing tryptophan, the most common way to do this is to get 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
While this word is a mouthful, it is actually naturally occurring in foods like Griffonia beans.
Using 5-HTP may be more helpful than using L-tryptophan. This is because, unlike L-tryptophan, 5-HTP doesn’t require the enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase for conversion into serotonin. This enzyme can be low for some people.
A commonly suggested ratio of supplemental tyrosine-to-tryptophan ratio is 10:1.
Other reviews of L-tyrosine
Movie actors like Jim Carey have come out and told their stories of how using tryptophan and tyrosine has alleviated crippling depression.
Most online L-tyrosine reviews are also very positive, indicating that people overall have improved moods and energy.
And there are thousands upon thousands of reviews from many different sources.
People overall report reduced anxiety symptoms to a large degree along with a boost in their mood when using L-tyrosine.
However, the occasional user experienced increased anxiety.
People suffering from PMS also find this supplement very helpful in reducing premenstrual dysphoria.
Sleep patterns generally improve for people as well; some people prefer to take it at night while others prefer taking it in the morning.
Others impressively report that taking L-tyrosine helps to reduce alcohol cravings and helps them overcome addiction as well. This would make sense because tyrosine’s ability to boost dopamine would have that effect.
Other users find L-tyrosine beneficial for controlling appetite too, which may aid in weight loss. In research, tyrosine combined with capsaicin, catechins, and caffeine helped aid in aiding in body fat weight loss compared to a placebo.
Yet others find that L-tyrosine helps to reduce their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD).
Why medications sometimes fail to help dopamine
There are lots of prescription drugs that attempt to help people make their brain more responsive to dopamine.
But, do they sometimes miss a critical part of the equation?
Such as the nutrients required to make dopamine.
As in, do they miss out on the simple building blocks of a healthy mood and things that help reduce stress?
All the medication in the world can’t compensate for a void diet or inadequate amino acids. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for medicine.
The case I’m making is that nutrients are a huge piece of the picture for mental health.
Gut-mood connection with tyrosine
Another reason the medicines may not be enough is that your gut microbiome is out of balance. It is indisputable at this point that mental health is connected to gut health.
This is because the gut is responsible for helping the brain out in making critical compounds.
In your digestive tract, you have an enzyme that helps to convert tyrosine into the happy-mood compound dopamine. If you have imbalanced bacteria in your gut, this enzyme, called tyrosine hydroxylase, is not made in adequate supply according to research.
Supplementing tyrosine may help improve the microbiome too, according to early research.
How to take L-tyrosine
If you take L-tyrosine, you will want to take it on an empty stomach.
The same goes for tryptophan too.
This is so it doesn’t compete or bind up to other amino acids in your foods.
Typical doses of L-tyrosine are between 500 mg to 1000 mg per day and are usually balanced out with 50 to 100 mg of 5-HTP.
It also is a good idea to take L-tyrosine with nutrient cofactors like folate and vitamin B6 as P5P.
Not surprisingly it makes sense to take a good comprehensive vitamin and mineral supplement like this one if you are taking tyrosine or just in general.
Also, make sure to address iron deficiency as well if you have that. Your body can’t convert tyrosine to dopamine without enough iron.
Taking tyrosine is generally recognized as safe according to the FDA. Research shows that it also has only minor side effects that are likely dose-related.
For example, very high doses of L-tyrosine are linked to memory issues in older adults, but this is likely because too much was given.
Some people occasionally get a headache, nausea, or irritability as well, but typically at higher doses than recommended.
If you are on medications, especially those for depression, ADHD, or Parkinson’s medications, make sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider first before starting L-tyrosine.
Many people fear new foods, new restaurants, and new supplements.
I’m not one of them.
With over 20 years of clinical experience and exhaustive research on many foods and nutrients, I know what to look for.
I also know how to read the research and to read between the lines of what the media is saying about supplements.
I feel that I owe it to you and to myself to be informed and to try these products too.
Sometimes I’m amazed by what I find helps improve overall health as in the case of L-tyrosine but remember this:
- I always back my experiences with the research we have available.
- With L-tyrosine, you won’t find huge clinical trials, largely because the funding of research today goes primarily to big pharmaceutical companies.
- Still, thousands of people give us the information we may want to know based on experience and reviews.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.