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7 Ways Tyrosine Can Boost Your Mood, Provide Cognitive Flexibility, and Enhance Performance

Tyrosine, also called l-tyrosine, is an amino acid the body produces and uses in many different biological processes. Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body is capable of producing it on its own from another amino acid phenylalanine.

Nevertheless, clinical studies have shown that including tyrosine in the diet or through supplementation provides an array of therapeutic and nootropic benefits to human health. Tyrosine has been found to have an effective or potential capacity to relieve:

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders

  • Daytime drowsiness

  • Narcolepsy

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Withdrawal symptoms

  • Heart disease

  • Parkinson’s

  • Alzheimer’s

  • Schizophrenia

  • Age-related skin conditions

 width= How Does Tyrosine Work?

Tyrosine, either created in the body or ingested, serves as the primary ingredient in creating many other protein structures. The reason tyrosine can address such a wide range of conditions is due to its ability to create neurotransmitters that communicate messages across the nervous system.

These chemical communicators regulate everything from stress responses to breathing and muscle movement. Dopamine is one important chemical synthesized from tyrosine and helps to regulate mood, physical performance, and cognitive function.

Tyrosine is also instrumental in stimulating the thyroid to produce its own communicators, called T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These hormones play a critical role in physical and mental performance by regulating metabolism and organ functions. When the thyroid is running properly the brain is kept energized, temperatures are normal, and body weight is balanced.

Deficiencies of tyrosine are fairly rare but they can be caused by a fault in the way the body processes phenylalanine, its essential precursor. Later in the article, you will find some important tips on making sure you are getting enough tyrosine in your diet.

Here are some important ways tyrosine contributes to your nootropic stack:

Nootropic Effects of Tyrosine

Diminishes Environmental Stressors

Finding a comfortable place to work is an essential part of avoiding distractions and getting as much done as possible. Studies found that tyrosine treatment can be a great help in this regard.

One test attempted to demonstrate the capacity of tyrosine to protect humans from the stressful effects of 4.5 hours in cold and uncomfortable conditions. The results showed that tyrosine reduced symptoms, kept subjects in good spirits, and decreased performance impairments caused by these environmental stressors. 1

Promotes Working Memory  width=

Working memory is the part of the brain handling all the important equations, facts, and figures held for immediate processing. This is the cognitive system in operation when working to produce innovative solutions or properly analyze information being committed to memory.

In a study performed on 22 female undergraduate students from Leiden University, tyrosine improved performance on specific tests of cognitive performance and working memory. 2

Improves Performance Under Stress

Focus and concentration do not come easy when in a distracting environment. Tyrosine demonstrated a superior capacity to mitigate the effects of ambient noise on focus and concentration in a human study.

Test subjects were asked to complete a stress sensitive task while exposed to 90 dB of sound distractions. This is comparable to working 25 feet from motorcycle traffic. Those who had received 100 mg of tyrosine for each kilogram of body weight showed less susceptibility to the stress-inducing noise. 3

 width= Promotes Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is the capacity for the mind to adapt its thoughts and processes to the sensory information being provided from its environment. Cognitive flexibility is utilized when learning to communicate in a new language, changing plans to meet new challenges, and when thinking about multiple concepts simultaneously.

Cognitive flexibility is best accomplished when the brain is well-supplied with the resources needed to think in multiple dimensions. Studies have shown that tyrosine supplements allow for improved flexibility by restoring the brain with the chemical communicators it requires. 4


While everyone is going to have good days and bad days, depression is an ongoing condition that can lead to dementia and cognitive decline. Earlier symptoms may include sleepless nights, lack of appetite, and a reduction of creativity and inspiration.

Tyrosine has important benefits for fighting this state of mind. Tyrosine is an important precursor for many neurotransmitters that control the way you think and feel including norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and others. By improving the functions of these communicators, your mood can be largely enhanced. 5

Improves Mental Output  width=

After the mind and body have been awake for so many hours, performance begins to slow down as the rest cycle sets in and sleep is naturally induced. Those who hope to continue their progress later into the evening will have to struggle with fatigue, mental exhaustion, and increased sensitivity to discomfort. After extended periods of wakefulness, cognitive function can become even more seriously impaired.

Tyrosine has been studied for its capacity to reverse fatigue and improve performance after more than 24 hours of wakefulness. 6 Due to these benefits, tyrosine is often used in military operations for improving mood and performance. 7

Enhances Performance in the Heat

One study was conducted to analyze the effect of tyrosine on athletic subjects under unusually warm and humid environments. Cognitive performance, endurance, and mental effort were all assessed. Tyrosine administered before the test was found to improve both cognitive and physical performance in a variety of tests. 8

Diet and Supplementation of Tyrosine

Getting sufficient tyrosine intake is important to avoid cognitive decline and to maintain healthy body function. Dietary adjustments can provide a healthy amount of tyrosine and its essential precursor, phenylalanine.

 width= Tyrosine Foods

Some foods rich in tyrosine and phenylalanine include:

  • Cheese

  • Soybeans

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Whole Grains

  • Lean Beef

  • Eggs

In addition to these foods, it is important to get sufficient iron-rich foods. Iron plays an important role in the conversion of tyrosine into its subsequent proteins. 9 Some important foods to include are: 10

  • Dark green leafy vegetables

  • Cashews

  • Baked potatoes

  • Legumes

  • Quinoa

Tyrosine Supplementation

Most commonly, 500 to 2000 mg of tyrosine is taken to improve physical performance about an hour before exercise. For those looking to include this amino acid in their nootropic stack, a ratio of 100 to 150 mg per kg of body weight has been found most effective. Remember to follow the instructions from product manufacturers.

Tyrosine vs. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine

You will find that many tyrosine containing products are labeled either l-tyrosine or NATL (N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine). These are almost the exact same thing with a minor difference.

NALT is often a more expensive process due to an upgraded molecular structure. The added acetyl group (N-Acetyl) improves the way the amino acid interacts with the body by improving its bioavailability. Simply put, bioavailability improves the absorption efficiency of tyrosine in the body.

L-Tyrosine, also known as tyrosine, is typically found at a lower cost than NATL and is also less bioavailable.

Risks and Precautions

Fitness enthusiasts have been supplementing with tyrosine for a long time now and it is considered “likely safe” by the medical community. So far, the worst side effects come from tyrosine being introduced to unstable health conditions or other medications.


Migraines are a frequently occurring problem for those who take too much tyrosine or take supplements when they are tyrosine-deficient. Migraines could be an indication that the body cannot metabolize tyrosine normally. 11

Thyroid Conditions

Tyrosine has a stimulating effect on the thyroid and can increase its production of hormones. This can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Those suffering from an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) should not take tyrosine supplements.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs are another popular approach to nootropic performance and should not be taken simultaneously with tyrosine. Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine. When it is inhibited, dopamine levels in the brain and body are increased.

Tyrosine also increases the presence of dopamine in the brain. If taken at the same time as an MAOI, dopamine levels can increase dramatically leading to a hypertensive crisis. Some common symptoms include headaches, sweating, high blood pressure, impaired vision, and chest pain. For those already susceptible to a heart condition or a stroke, the consequences can be serious, potentially fatal.

Pregnancy and Infancy

As yet, there is still not enough research on tyrosine to know how supplementation could affect a pregnant mother or developing child. The safest choice is to avoid supplementation and stick to healthy food sources of tyrosine.

Above all, be sure to speak with a qualified medical professional before making adjustments to your diet when pregnant or planning to become so. 12

Final Notes on Tyrosine Supplementation

Tyrosine is an effective nutrient for improving the performance of the brain and body in times of stress and fatigue. It is also safe for use even in considerably high doses. The biggest dangers of using this nutrient in supplementation come from other physical conditions and medications. If you are unsure, be sure to consult with your health provider before beginning supplementation.

PhotoCredits: molekuul_be/, VelesStudio/, KanashkinEvgeniy/, agsandrew/, P-fotography/, areeya_ann/

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