L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that serves as a precursor for synthesizing the catecholamines dopamine and norepinephrine.
Levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are depleted under stressful conditions, and L-tyrosine supplements can help alleviate stress-related cognitive impairment and boost cognitive function by restoring catecholamine levels in the brain.
If you’re like most people, you’re always looking to get an edge on the competition. Whether it’s work, finances, or at the gym, you continually push yourself and strive to do better and do more.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to excel and raise the bar, always being on the go can be hard on the body and lead to burnout.
But if there’s one supplement worth looking at to support various aspects of cognition, it’s L-tyrosine.
Not familiar with it? Or maybe you’ve heard about it but haven’t yet added it to your stack.
In any situation, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about L-tyrosine supplements.
We’ll cover what it is, the health benefits of L-tyrosine, where to find it and how much you need, and our top pick for the best tyrosine supplement. (Hint, it's Pre Lab Pro!).
Ready to get started?
What is L-tyrosine and what does it do?
Before diving into the details of how L-tyrosine can give you the edge you need to conquer any obstacle you may face, let’s talk about what L-tyrosine even is.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid and an essential precursor to neurotransmitters and hormones involved in regulating energy metabolism, thyroid function, cognition, and more.
Specifically, it’s needed to synthesize:
Dopamine: Also known as the pleasure hormone, dopamine helps regulate your brain's pleasure and reward centers. It’s also involved in cognitive function, such as memory and motor skills 1.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline: Also known as epinephrine and norepinephrine, these hormones are your stress hormones involved in the fight-or-flight response, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose levels to prepare the body to fight or flee.
Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones are produced mainly by the thyroid and are essential for regulating energy metabolism, but also control your heart, muscle and digestive function, brain development, and bone health 2.
Melanin: This is a pigment that gives your skin, hair, and eyes their color. People with darker skin have higher concentrations of melanin than light-skinned people 3.
Its involvement in the production of thyroid hormones is the main reason it’s claimed that L-tyrosine supplements can speed up your metabolism and support weight and fat loss—but the science doesn’t wholly support that (we’ll talk about that later).
Consuming L-tyrosine supplements or foods high in L-tyrosine has been shown to boost norepinephrine and dopamine production, but it’s also important to remember that to produce these neurotransmitters, you also need other nutrients like folate, B vitamins, copper, and magnesium.
Simply put, L-tyrosine is important during times of emotional and physical stress, and demands increase as a result.
That’s why you’ll commonly see tyrosine added to pre-workout supplements—it helps restore depleted brain chemicals that can lead to low energy, motivation, and fatigue.
That said, let’s dive deeper into the benefits of tyrosine!
Top 4 health benefits of L-tyrosine
May provide stress relief and protect against stress-related performance decrements
Stress happens—there are no two ways around it. But when it comes to heavy training, it can seem like a different type of stress; it’s the mental and physical exhaustion that comes along with total exertion and maximum gains.
But while a good pre-workout can help ignite your nervous system and fire up your mind to train, an even better pre-workout (like Pre Lab Pro) adds L-tyrosine to help restore depleted brain chemicals that come along with intense physical exertion and stress.
How? As we mentioned, L-tyrosine is an important precursor for synthesizing specific neurotransmitters and hormones, especially the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine and the stress hormone adrenaline.
Dopamine is important for regulating the reward and pleasure centers in the brain, while adrenaline is involved in your “fight-or-flight response” during times of stress.
Because stressful situations (including exercise) increase the release of catecholamines, levels can quickly deplete.
Studies looking at the effect of L-tyrosine on stress find that L-tyrosine supplements can help increase levels, offering protection against cognitive impairment and mood-related changes that occur due to stress 4, 5.
Boosting L-tyrosine intake may also benefit people who struggle with depression, as levels of dopamine and norepinephrine drop, leading to symptoms like irritability, fatigue, and moodiness.
A 2016 article published in Annals of Neuroscience states that depression results from the disruption of cerebral levels of specific neurotransmitters, several of which L-tyrosine is a precursor for 6.
Some evidence also suggests that higher levels of L-tyrosine lead to improved cognitive function and mood, greater alertness, and increases the ability to deal with stress.
And when it comes to physical stress, it could help with that, too. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that tyrosine may be helpful for people undergoing physical stressors, such as military personnel when exposed to cold stress, high-altitude stress, or extended wakefulness 7.
Can boost memory and improve mental performance
If your brain is constantly running on low, L-tyrosine supplements might hold promise for you.
On top of modulating stress levels, it can also reduce mental fatigue and boost cognitive function and memory while improving learning and alertness 8.
But there’s one area where L-tyrosine is especially effective: sleep deprivation.
Here’s what some of the research shows:
A 1995 study published in Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance looked at the effects of L-tyrosine supplements in people doing continuous nighttime work resulting in one night’s sleep loss. Subjects received 150 mg/kg of tyrosine in a split dose, which resulted in a significant amelioration of the usual performance decline on psychomotor tasks and a significant reduction in lapse probability on a high-event-rate vigilance task 9.
A 2015 study published in Neuropsychologia found that L-tyrosine supplements significantly improved memory while undergoing taxing mental tasks 10. Researchers concluded that L-tyrosine supplements would be helpful for people with brain fog looking to increase alertness and improve cognitive function.
It may boost weight loss
Don’t expect tyrosine supplements to melt the pounds off like a fat burner and hard work would, but thanks to its role in supporting the thyroid gland (the master metabolic regulator), it could indirectly support weight loss.
While no studies specifically support L-tyrosine supplements for weight loss, when used in conjunction with other fat-burning compounds like cayenne pepper, green tea, and caffeine, there’s some evidence that it could help reduce weight in overweight adults, albeit slightly.
A 2007 study found a very slight reduction in fat mass in the group taking a combination of L-tyrosine, capsaicin, catechins, and caffeine, which may partly be due to their ability to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and promote satiety, lipolysis, and thermogenesis 11. That said, the results aren’t chalked up to tyrosine alone.
Thyroid support and promotes a healthy metabolism
Without getting into too much of the nitty-gritty thyroid details, we want to quickly summarize in simple terms how tyrosine is involved in thyroid function and metabolism:
As most people know, the thyroid gland absorbs iodine from food sources, which is then oxidized by thyroid peroxidase (TPO) into the active form. Once oxidized, these molecules can readily attach to tyrosine found in thyroglobulin (a protein produced by the thyroid) 12.
When iodine and tyrosine combine, they create the thyroid hormone precursors, monoiodotyrosine (T1) and diiodotyrosine (T2), which then combine to produce the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
T3 and T4 are the primary thyroid hormones needed to regulate various metabolic processes in the body.
Low tyrosine levels can therefore interfere with thyroid hormone production. And studies show that people with thyroid diseases, including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, have varying serum levels of tyrosine 13; hyperthyroidism tends to cause higher tyrosine levels, while hypothyroidism tends to cause lower-than-normal levels of tyrosine. Hypothyroidism can lead to symptoms like sluggish metabolism, fatigue, cold sensitivity, weight gain, constipation, moodiness, and weakness.
As such, taking L-tyrosine supplements can help support proper thyroid function and ensure your metabolism is working optimally.
Top tyrosine foods
When it comes to boosting your intake of nutrients, there are two routes you can go with this amino acid—food and supplement.
Increasing your dietary intake should be a top priority for those who want to keep things natural—and it’s easy to do with L-tyrosine.
Although generally found in the highest concentrations in high-protein foods like meat and eggs, you can also find tyrosine in smaller amounts in plant-based foods.
So, for anyone following a healthy diet, chances are you're already consuming loads of L-tyrosine.
Here's a rundown of the best L-tyrosine-rich foods to include in your diet:
- Organic dairy (raw milk, kefir, yogurt)
- Grass-fed meats (beef, pork, elk, bison, venison)
- Pasture-raised poultry
- Wild-caught fish and seafood
- Pastured eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains (quinoa, oats)
- Protein powder
Before hitting the grocery store and loading up on protein-rich foods, consider that your body requires other nutrients to convert tyrosine into specific neurotransmitters.
These include vitamin B6, folate, and copper, which means you should also include foods high in these nutrients, such as eggs, beef, dark leafy green vegetables, asparagus, oranges, beans/legumes, almonds and other nuts, seeds (sunflower and chia), whole grains (quinoa and wheat germ), avocado, and broccoli.
But there’s another fact that’s important to know. Unlike tryptophan, another amino acid with mood-boosting properties, tyrosine levels increase when you consume high-tyrosine foods or supplements.
But because tyrosine and tryptophan compete for absorption in the body, boosting your levels of one will typically decrease levels of the other.
Aside from food, the other option to increase levels of tyrosine is an L-tyrosine supplement—protein powder, capsule form, and pre-workouts are some of the most popular ways.
It’s important to remember that the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, so finding a clean and reputable L-tyrosine supplement can be tricky.
Generally speaking, you want a tyrosine supplement where you know exactly how much you’re getting.
While proprietary blends aren’t the worst, not disclosing dosages can lead to questionable results—and you want to know that what you take will work.
So, how much tyrosine is enough to excel your performance?
Most studies use doses between 100 and 150mg per kilogram of body weight, which adds up to about 7 grams per day for an average adult.
In the case of highly stressful events, doses of up to 300 mg per kg are used with success to enhance mental performance and support healthy brain function. Splitting doses can even be beneficial for elongating alertness and preventing fatigue.
If you’re taking L-tyrosine for exercise, doses between 500 and 2,000 mg taken 30–60 minutes before exercise are generally effective, although its benefit for exercise performance remains inconclusive 14, 15.
Ideally, take your L-tyrosine supplement on an empty stomach, as consuming it with other amino acids can interfere with absorption.
And because it affects mental alertness, it’s best taken in the morning when it won’t interrupt sleep, especially if you’re taking large amounts.
Tyrosine side effects
Though most people find tyrosine supplements safe, side effects can happen. The most common side effects from too much tyrosine include an upset stomach and headaches.
Although rare, some people could experience allergic reactions due to cross-contamination, hidden ingredients, or the source of the amino acid—this is why knowing what’s in your product is important!
Tyrosine supplements should also be avoided with specific medications. Don’t take tyrosine if you’re taking:
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors: Medications to treat depression such as rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), and tranylcypromine (Parnate).
Levodopa (L-DOPA): Parkinson’s disease medication
Thyroid hormones: Synthroid or Levothroid
The best tyrosine supplement to give you a performance edge
By now, we’re sure you’re wondering where you can get a clean, potent tyrosine supplement to maximize your performance in and out of the gym. Our solution? Pre Lab Pro®.
It’s only the best tyrosine supplement and pre-workout formula designed to supercharge your athletic performance using a patented blend of research-backed ingredients.
How does Pre Lab Pro® work?
Bigger nitric oxide boost: Pre Lab Pro®'s 2X nitric oxide stack boosts and sustains blood flow to muscles, delivering a clean rush that enhances strength, stamina, focus, and endurance.
Smarter stimulation: 80 mg of natural caffeine, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, and nootropics stacked to support more energy, focus, and intensity with fewer jitters, crashes, and side effects.
Stronger homeostasis: Pre Lab Pro® tops you off with crucial nutrients before training to help you perform at your peak, maintain hydration and electrolytes, resist stress, accelerate recovery, and feel great after your session.
Try it for yourself and see why it's the best pre-workout supplement on the market.
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- Tumilty L, Davison G, Beckmann M, Thatcher R. Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011;111(12):2941-2950.