Tyrosine is a non-essential aromatic amino acid, that is, it is produced by the body from another amino acid called phenylalanine, in addition to this, it can also be ingested through foods such as cheeses, fish, avocado and nuts, for example, and in the form of nutritional supplement as L-tyrosine.
This amino acid is a precursor of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, so it is associated with antidepressant effects, and is also involved in the formation of melanin, the latter being a substance that gives color to the skin, eyes and hair.
What it is for
Tyrosine provides various health benefits, these include:
Also, its supplementation could help people suffering from phenylketonuria, a disease where they are not able to metabolize phenylalanine, because tyrosine is produced in the body from phenylalanine, so people with this problem could suffer from a tyrosine deficit, however, studies in this regard are not conclusive.
Main functions in the body
Tyrosine is an amino acid that fulfills several functions in the body, it reaches the brain and becomes a precursor of some neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline, forming an essential part of the nervous system.
In addition to this, tyrosine also acts in the formation of thyroid hormones, catecholestrogens and melanin. It is also part of many proteins in the body, including enkephalins, the body’s natural analgesic, so called because they are involved in pain regulation.
List of foods rich in Tyrosine
The main foods rich in tyrosine are milk and its derivatives, other foods include:
Besides this, other foods where it can be found are mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, chayota, eggplant, beets, radish, okra, turnip, chicory, asparagus, broccoli, parsley, cucumber, red onion, spinach, tomato, cabbage.
There are two types of supplements, one containing the free amino acid tyrosine and the other containing N-acetyl L-tyrosine, better known as NALT. The difference is that NALT is more soluble in water, so it is metabolized in the body more slowly, so to exert the same effect as free tyrosine, the doses must be higher.
To improve mental performance in a stressful situation or period of sleep deprivation, the recommendation is 100 to 200 mg/kg body weight of tyrosine per day. In addition to this, although studies are not conclusive regarding the intake of this amino acid before physical activity to improve performance during exercise, in general the recommended doses vary between 500 to 2000 mg, 1 hour before the activity.
For any effect, the ideal is to consult a doctor or nutritionist before ingesting a tyrosine supplement.
Contraindications to supplementation
Avoid use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, because there is not enough information about it. It should also be avoided by people with hyperthyroidism or Graves’ disease.
Tyrosine may interact with drugs such as Levodopa, with drugs to treat thyroid problems and with monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant drugs, because it may cause increased blood pressure.