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L-Tyrosine

What does l-tyrosine do?

L-tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid (protein building block) that the body synthesizes from phenylalanine, another amino acid. Tyrosine is important to the structure of almost all proteins in the body. It is also the precursor of several neurotransmitters, including L-dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.

L-tyrosine, through its effect on neurotransmitters, may affect several health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other mood disorders. Studies have suggested that tyrosine may help people with depression.1 Preliminary findings indicate a beneficial effect of tyrosine, along with other amino acids, in people affected by dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.2 Due to its role as a precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine (two of the body’s main stress-related hormones) tyrosine may also ease the adverse effects of environmental, psychosocial, and physical stress.3 4 5 6 7 8 9

L-tyrosine is converted by skin cells into melanin, the dark pigment that protects against the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. Thyroid hormones, which have a role in almost every process in the body, also contain tyrosine as part of their structure.

People born with the genetic condition phenylketonuria (PKU) are unable to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine. Mental retardation and other severe disabilities can result. While dietary phenylalanine restriction prevents these problems, it also leads to low tyrosine levels in many (but not all) people with PKU. Tyrosine supplementation may be beneficial in some people with PKU, though the evidence is conflicting.10

Where is l-tyrosine found?

Dairy products, meats, fish, wheat, oats, and most other protein-containing foods contain tyrosine.

L-tyrosine has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information)

 

Rating Health Concerns
ds

Depression
Phenylketonuria (for deficiency)

ds

Alcohol withdrawal support
Parkinson’s disease

Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

 

Who is likely to be deficient of l-tyrosine?

Some people affected by PKU are deficient in tyrosine. Tyrosine levels are occasionally low in depressed people.11 Any person losing large amounts of protein, such as those with some kidney diseases, may be deficient in several amino acids, including tyrosine.12

How much l-tyrosine is usually taken?

Most people should not supplement with L-tyrosine. Some human research with people suffering from a variety of conditions used 100 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight, equivalent to about 7 grams per day for an average-sized person. The appropriate amount to use in people with PKU is not known, therefore, the monitoring of blood levels by a physician is recommended.

Are there any side effects or interactions with l-tyrosine?

L-tyrosine has not been reported to cause any serious side effects. However, it is not known whether long-term use of L-tyrosine, particularly in large amounts (such as more than 1,000 mg per day) is safe. For that reason, long-term use of L-tyrosine should be monitored by a doctor.

Vitamin B6, folic acid, and copper are necessary for conversion of L-tyrosine into neurotransmitters.

Are there any drug interactions?

Certain medicines may interact with L-tyrosine. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

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