Often, when we hear about foods and nutrients like protein and carbohydrates, we consider them to be single units—or bases of nutrition. We do not think of them as being made up of smaller moving parts—but they are. Proteins are created by long chains of amino acids. These amino acids allow your body to create and grow muscles connect tissues and regulate hormones and enzymes. One of the amino acids present in the chain is l-tyrosine.

L-tyrosine is a non essential amino acid. By non essential, that does not mean that the body or the protein chain doesn’t need l-tyrosine, it just means that l-tyrosine is an amino acid that your body can produce. In order to be considered an essential amino acid it would need to be an amino acid that can not be produced by your body.

On its own and away from the chain, l-tyrosine has an interesting effect on the body. L-tyrosine becomes converted into a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help send messages around in your brain. The neurotransmitter dopamine is an extremely important part of your cognitive functioning. Dopamine can affect your ability to sleep, you mood, your attention span and you learning capabilities. That makes l-tyrosine a very important amino acid.

Another interesting use for l-tyrosine is in drug rehabilitation. It has been found that l-tyrosine used as a treatment for cocaine addiction can lessen the affects of chemical withdrawal as well as caffeine and nicotine withdrawal. Large scale drug rehabilitation treatment facilities have not opined of the effectiveness of l-tyrosine in their treatment programs and may, in fact, not even use the amino acid.

L-tyrosine in Supplements

Depressed individuals often suffer from low levels of l-tyrosine. The lack of l-tyrosine and, therefore, low levels of dopamine could be the reason for the depression. That is one of the many reasons supplement manufacturers currently promote l-tyrosine as a helpful ingredient. Some people, especially those with renal failure, find that they have very low levels of l-tyrosine. These patients should check with their primary care physicians before supplementing their diet with l-tyrosine.

Supplements also claim that l-tyrosine can help to suppress the appetite because it creates the release of cholecystokinin. There have been no trials on humans to prove that l-tyrosine can help with diet and weight loss efforts and you should always check with you primary care physician prior to taking the supplements. People who are sensitive to phenylalanines and have a genetic condition called phenylketonuria should not take any supplement containing l-tyrosine. Additionally, anyone with renal or kidney disease should also avoid these supplements.

Potential L-tyrosine Supplement Side Effects
If you and your primary care physician decide that you should take a supplement that contains l-tyrosine, then you should be aware of some of the side effects. You could experience side effects that range from a rapid heartbeat, palpitations, and anxiety. Restlessness is also often reported as a side effect. Sometimes, these side effects are only reported when certain amounts of l-tyrosine are taken in each dosage. Many supplements recommend taking l-tyrosine in the morning. If you decide to do so, remember to avoid caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants as they may exacerbate some of the known side effects of l-tyrosine.

The Food and Drug Administration has not weighed in on the effectiveness or safety of these l-tyrosine supplements, so make sure that you discuss them with your primary care physician before you begin taking them. After a consultation, the doctor may also suggest that you just increase your consumption of high protein foods rather than using a supplement.

Last updated on Nov 30th, 2010 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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