L-Tyrosine is an amino acid supplement that is great for boosting energy, concentration and motivation. And while L-tyrosine is great, there’s some important things you should know in order to maximize its benefits. Find out what biochemical hacks you can use by pairing certain supplements with L- tyrosine and the importance of dosage. And for those who are using L-tyrosine regularly, find out what you need to watch out for to keep yourself healthy and safe.
Now if you’re like many of us, chances are sometimes you wouldn’t mind having some extra energy, focus and motivation in your back pocket. While caffeine can be helpful, sometimes our regular use of it creates tolerance and when we need that pick me up, caffeine might not work as well as we want it to. L-tyrosine is a great substitute for caffeine when you need some extra kick for your workout or work day.
What is L-Tyrosine?
L- Tyrosine is an amino acid that is naturally found in protein from sources like chicken meat, eggs, beef, dairy, beans, nuts and grains. It is the chemical precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine, adrenaline and thyroid hormones. The body can actually make L-tyrosine from another amino acid called L-phenylalanine or you can get it from your diet.
You can also take L-tyrosine as a supplement in it’s free form, where it acts as a natural stimulant and dopamine-booster. L-tyrosine supplements are used pre-workout to increase energy and stamina, or to improve mental clarity and focus. Scientific research on L-tyrosine has shown that it can help us adapt to and mitigate acute stress such as from high-altitude, exercise, and cold exposure etc . If we’re experiencing emotional stress that depletes a lot of our stress hormones like adrenaline, L-tyrosine is important for producing more and restoring natural levels of stress hormones.
L-tyrosine and neurotransmitters
In the body, Phenylalanine is converted into L-tyrosine, which is then converted into L-dopa and then lastly in to dopamine, where it can either stay as dopamine or continue on the pathway by being turned into norepinephrine or epinephrine. L-Tyrosine is converted into L-dopa by an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase.
Some people have a genetic conditions called phenylketonuria which leaves them unable to convert L-phenylalanine into L-tyrosine in the metabolic pathways. This ends up resulting in a toxic build up of phenylalanine. There’s some evidence that supplementing with L-tyrosine can alleviate this build up, and help those with phenylketonuria because they are unable to make their own L- Tyrosine.
How to get the most out of L-Tyrosine with biohacking
Understanding the biochemistry of certain supplements can tell us how to get the most benefit out of them. For example, if you want your L-tyrosine to convert into dopamine, there’s a couple additional things you’ll want to pair it with,
Because the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase is required to convert L-tyrosine into L-dopa, you can only make as much L-dopa and dopamine as you can tyrosine hydroxylase. Iron is a crucial nutrient for the production of this important enzyme. If you are deficient in iron, you may not make enough tyrosine hydroxylase to even convert the L-tyrosine that you’re supplanting into that feel good, motivating dopamine. Having your irons levels checked and perhaps supplementing with Iron is one way you can make sure you have adequate levels of this enzyme in order to use as much of the L-tyrosine in your system as possible.
Another nutrient to help convert as much as your L-tyrosine into dopamine as possible is vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 acts as an enzyme to convert L-dopa into dopamine in the last step of dopamine synthesis . Vitamin B6 is often the limiting factor, dictating how much L-dopa can actually continue on the biochemical pathway. So in order to bypass these biochemical traffic jams, we can supplement with iron and vitamin B6 to help as much L-tyrosine move through the pathway as possible. That being said, it is possible to have too much iron in your system, so always have your iron levels checked before starting an iron supplement.
If you like the increased concentration, enhanced athletic performance and improved memory from L- tyrosine, but you find it to be too stimulating, I recommend pairing it with 200 mg’s of L-theanine to protect against excess dopamine activity and to soften the edge around the jittery feeling.
L- Tyrosine dosage
Typically people will take 500-2000 mgs of L-tyrosine in a day. It is possible to be more sensitive to the stimulating effects of L-tyrosine so I always recommend starting small and working your way up once you know how your body will respond. I am actually incredibly sensitive to L-Tyrosine and when I take it, I only take about 200 mg or so, because I can feel a little jittery if I take more than that. I’m an extreme case though.
I recommend taking It early in the day, especially before a workout, because it can be quite energizing, and you don’t want to be too stimulated when you are ready to go to bed at night.
Warning: Why I no longer take L-tyrosine
While L-tyrosine appears to be fairly safe, there is one important thing to note and watch out for. L-tyrosine is also a precursor to the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. This means that if you’re taking a lot of L-tyrosine it IS possible to produce TOO much thyroid hormone and contribute to hyperthyroidism. Having too much thyroid activity can be detrimental to your health and is a serious condition.
When I was using L-tyrosine on a regular basis, I was enjoying the stimulating effects and improved stamina and concentrations, but after about 2 months of taking it, I started just experiencing severe anxiety when I would take it. It got to the point where I was no longer wanting to take it, because it only produced uncomfortable experiences. My partner also experienced the same thing. It was as if we had saturated some pathway and reached a threshold and now everytime we took it, we were experiencing anxiety and feelings of un ease. I was also experiencing rebound effects at night, where it felt like my adrenals were in deficit from being so overstimulated during the day while on the L-Tyrosine.
A better solution than L-Tyrosine?
So, while I personally found L-tyrosine too stimulating ,and had concerns about too high of thyroid hormone levels, I still wanted that increased attention, cognitive performance and motivation that comes with the increased dopamine. Luckily I found a solution that worked better for me. Instead of using L-tyrosine to boost my dopamine production, I just climbed up one step on the biochemical ladder and started using an herb called mucuna pruriens which contains L-dopa. This way, I was able to completely skip over the L-tyrosine step of the dopamine pathway, and just went to the last step. This means I didn’t have to worry about making too much thyroid hormone and I found the effects of L-dopa to be much more balanced for my body than the L-tyrosine.
So in Summary, you can use L- tyrosine for enhanced energy, athletic performance and motivation. Pair it with Iron and vitamin B6 supplements to get the most dopamine production out of it. Pair it with L-theanine if you need to dampen the stimulating effects a bit. And Be careful not to boost your thyroid hormone levels too high.
If you decide L-tyrosine is just too much for you and want to explore another way of boosting your dopamine levels, you can also check out EntheoZen’s product, TransZen which contains 17 scientifically studied ingredients, including Mucuna pruriens with L-dopa, vitamin B6, and L-theanine.
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