Tyrosine is a non-essential aromatic amino acid, that is, it is produced by the body from another amino acid, phenylalanine. In addition, it can also be obtained from the consumption of some foods, such as cheese, fish, avocado and nuts, for example, and in the form of a nutritional supplement, such as L-tyrosine.
This amino acid is a precursor to neurotransmitters such as dopamine, is associated with antidepressant effects, and is also present in the process of melanin synthesis, which is a substance that gives color to the skin, eyes, and hair.
Tyrosine provides several health benefits, such as:
- Improves mood, as it acts as an antidepressant;
- Improves memory in stressful situations, improving the ability to perform tasks under pressure. However, some studies suggest that this effect does not happen in older people;
- Increased amount of white and red blood cells;
- It can help in the treatment of some diseases, like Parkinson’s.
Thus, supplementation can help people who have phenylketonuria, which is a disease in which phenylalanine cannot be synthesized. As a result, it is not possible for tyrosine to form, since this amino acid is formed from phenylalanine, resulting in tyrosine deficiency in the body. However, studies relating the use of tyrosine supplementation in people with phenylketonuria are not yet conclusive.
Tyrosine is an amino acid responsible for several functions in the body and when it reaches the brain it becomes a precursor to some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, and can therefore be considered an essential part of the nervous system.
In addition, tyrosine also acts in the formation of thyroid hormones, catecholestrogens and melanin. It is also important for the formation of several proteins in the body, including enkephalins, which are considered natural painkillers in the body, since they are involved in the regulation of pain.
The main foods rich in tyrosine are milk and its derivatives, other foods rich in tyrosine are:
- Fish and meat;
- Dried fruits, such as nuts and chestnuts;
- Peas and beans;
- Rye and barley.
In addition to these, other foods in which tyrosine can be found are mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, eggplant, beets, radish, okra, turnip, chicory, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, parsley, red onion, spinach, tomatoes and cabbage.
How to use tyrosine supplement
There are two types of supplements, one with the free amino acid tyrosine and the other that contain N-acetyl L-tyrosine, popularly known as NALT. The difference is that NALT is more soluble in water and can be metabolized in the body more slowly, while to receive the same effect, free tyrosine must be consumed in higher doses.
To improve mental performance in the face of a stressful situation or due to periods of sleep deprivation, for example, the recommendation is 100 to 200 mg / kg per day. Although the studies are not conclusive regarding the intake of this amino acid before physical activities to improve performance, it is recommended to consume between 500 and 2000 mg 1 hour before activity.
Anyway, the ideal is to consult a doctor or nutritionist before using the tyrosine supplement.
Contraindications for supplementation
The use of the supplement is contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding, since there is not much information about it. It should also be avoided by people with hyperthyroidism or Graves’ disease.
In addition, tyrosine can interact with medications such as Levodopa, with medications to treat thyroid problems and with antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, as it can cause high blood pressure.