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Tyrosine: The Natural Stimulant

Is there an exam? Does your job require brain work? Is your mood lacking? Do you occasionally long for a remedy that wakes you up and gives you a clear perspective? Of course without any side effects. Tyrosine could be the solution. The amino acid has been shown to increase mental performance, the ability to concentrate, and mental fitness. Tyrosine could therefore be used as a natural stimulant in times of high demand.

Tyrosine increases mental power

Many students and professionals, some even schoolchildren, suffer from enormous pressure to perform. They resort to stimulants, of which caffeine is the most harmless. Many have long stocked up on prescription psychotropic drugs in order to be able to perform even better and for longer. Of course, it’s not healthy. And since there are alternatives, it’s not really necessary. One of these alternatives is called tyrosine.

Tyrosine (also called L-tyrosine) is a non-essential amino acid that is found in many proteins and is used in the human body for the production of e.g. B. thyroxine (thyroid hormone) or dopamine (transmitter in the brain) is used.

dr Lorenza Colzato from the Dutch Universiteit Leiden and her team have discovered that tyrosine can increase the brain’s performance. If there is a lot of tyrosine, then a lot of dopamine can also be produced – and tyrosine really pushes dopamine formation.

Tyrosine promotes dopamine formation

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and is one of those hormones that are also commonly referred to as “happy hormones”. If dopamine production is increased, mental performance, reaction speed and the ability to concentrate also increase – which Dr. Colzato and colleagues were able to clearly observe in their subjects.

They ordered 32 test subjects into their laboratory twice. The first time, participants were given orange juice to which tyrosine had been added. Instead of the tyrosine, a placebo was added to the drink during the second visit to the laboratory.

Tyrosine makes you creative

Both times, the study participants had to solve puzzles. Once it was about finding as many different solutions to a question as quickly as possible, such as: “What can you do with a pen?”

However, the test persons also had to think in a solution-oriented manner, for example when asking about connections between words that at first glance had nothing to do with each other. It turned out that the participants were able to do better thinking when they had an extra dose of tyrosine in their bodies.

Tyrosine increases reactivity

This wasn’t the first study that Dr. Colzato on the effects of tyrosine. A few months earlier, she used the same method to test whether the amino acid could affect reactivity.

Instead of solving puzzles, the participants had to complete reaction tests on the computer. Here, too, the researchers were able to determine a positive effect from the tyrosine, namely, it also increased the participants’ ability to react (Video: Eating to Stop ).

Better by proving with tyrosine

dr Colzato emphasizes that anyone can easily take advantage of these results. A dietary supplement with tyrosine is a healthy and inexpensive way to increase mental performance.

An extra portion of tyrosine can be used specifically in exams in order to achieve a better result – completely legally and without any health risks.

Some foods are also particularly rich in tyrosine, e.g. B. Peanuts, peas, organic eggs, and soy products.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult to get enough tyrosine in a normal diet to actually boost brain power. Therefore, in an emergency (exam, exam preparation, etc.), it is advisable to take a dietary supplement with tyrosine.

However, tyrosine not only increases energy but also improves mood. In addition, it makes you more stress-resistant, so that it can be used in all situations in life that are associated with a lot of stress and mental and physical strain – as studies by the US Army show.

Tyrosine reduces stress

A study by the U.S. As early as 1989, the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine proved that the intake of tyrosine in a dose of 100 mg per kilogram of body weight can compensate for the negative effects of cold and lack of oxygen.

Normally, the human organism reacts to these environmental factors with a reduced ability to think and behavioral problems at the same time.

In the Army study, participants were exposed to cold and oxygen deprivation for four and a half hours. They had previously received either a tyrosine supplement or a placebo.

It was found that tyrosine drastically reduced symptoms such as poor performance in the participants.

How can this effect be explained?

Tyrosine is the precursor to neurotransmitters that keep the brain functioning, such as B. Dopamine. In the cold, there can be a deficiency of these so-called catecholamines. However, taking tyrosine prevents catecholamine deficiency.

Tyrosine makes you stress-resistant

Another US study came to a similar conclusion. Eight male participants had to solve tasks on the computer for half an hour. The ambient temperature was either four or twenty-two degrees Celsius.

Participants performed significantly worse when they were in a cold environment. However, taking tyrosine was able to offset this effect of the cold. After taking a tyrosine-containing supplement, the results of the study participants in the cold environment were similar to those of the others in the warm environment.

Tyrosine keeps the brain efficient

In 2007, the US military conducted another study on the effects of tyrosine on mental performance. This time, nineteen test subjects had to dive twice for an hour and a half each, completing tasks. The water temperature was either 35 or only 10 degrees.

Before each trial, subjects were given a placebo or 150 mg tyrosine per kilogram of body weight. The placebo study participants who had to jump in at the deep end not only felt more stress subjectively. They also had elevated levels of the stress hormone, i.e. cortisol.

They also underperformed on the tasks and had limited responsiveness. However, if the study participants had ingested tyrosine before their dive into the 10-degree cold water, their performance did not differ from that of the participants in the warm water.

Physically more powerful with tyrosine

us Army also investigated whether tyrosine can also increase physical performance. For this purpose, the 15 study participants completed three tests, each one week apart. After a water bath and taking tyrosine or a placebo, the test subjects first had to solve mental tasks and then prove themselves at the shooting range.

The first time the water was 35 degrees, and the second and third times it was cold. The body temperature of the participants decreased by an average of 1.6 degrees due to the cold water. If they had received a placebo, the participants performed eighteen percent worse in the thinking test and fourteen percent in the shooting test than after the warm bath due to the lower body temperature.

However, when participants received tyrosine, the cold had no effect on their scores on the thinking or shooting tests.

Tyrosine effect comparable to speed?

In 2003, researchers at the US Pennington Biomedical Research Center compared the effect of various stimulants on cognitive performance after sleep deprivation. Participants received either tyrosine (150 mg/kg body weight), caffeine (300 mg/70 kg body weight), psychostimulant phentermine, or D-amphetamine. The latter is part of the drug “Speed”.

Sleep deprivation noticeably reduced the participants’ cognitive ability in numerous areas. But all of the substances mentioned were able to improve the performance of the participants despite sleep deprivation, including tyrosine. Although tyrosine was not quite as effective as the speed substance D-amphetamine, taking tyrosine is significantly less dangerous. Of course, sleep deprivation does not only occur in the test laboratory but also in everyday life for many people, for example on night shifts.

Tyrosine on the night shift

Many jobs require night work. This no longer only includes work in the hospital or at the hotel reception. In many offices, too, employees are expected to put in one or more night shifts if necessary.

This means an immense amount of stress for the body. Especially when you consider that most people who work nights don’t sleep during the day either, but go shopping, do housework and take care of the children. The resulting fatigue in turn leads to a drop in performance at work.

Participants were administered a placebo, the other half tyrosine (150 mg/kg body weight). After all, the people in the tyrosine group performed better for three hours and had a lower error rate.

Tyrosine lowers blood pressure during stress

A study by the Dutch Vrije Universiteit found that tyrosine even lowers blood pressure in the short term when stressed. Sixteen healthy young participants had to take cognitive tests twice. The tasks were more difficult to solve when they were stressed, and while the test subjects were solving them, they were exposed to a noise level of 90 decibels. For comparison: In a discotheque, you are exposed to a noise level of 100 decibels at a distance of 1 meter from the loudspeaker. Tyrosine not only enabled the participants to solve particularly stress-sensitive tasks better, but also lowered their blood pressure, albeit only briefly.

Possible side effects of tyrosine

A reader wrote to us that she had heard/read that L-Tyrosine could promote cancer growth and that it was harmful because it contained phenylalanine, which is also found in aspartame. Our answer was the following:

Tyrosine is an amino acid that can be made in the body from phenylalanine – another amino acid. So tyrosine does not contain phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that must be obtained from food and is not harmful. Only those who suffer from the hereditary disease phenylketonuria (PKU) have to avoid phenylalanine, since in this case, the body cannot break down excess amounts of this amino acid, which, if left untreated, would lead to mental disabilities. These people often receive tyrosine as a dietary supplement because they lack phenylalanine as a raw material for tyrosine synthesis. Since people with PKU should consume as little phenylalanine as possible and must follow a strict diet for life, finished products containing phenylalanine are labeled “Contains a source of phenylalanine”. So this advice is only relevant for PKU sufferers, not for everyone else.

As far as the cancer issue is concerned, the situation is as follows: If you take tyrosine a few times for a short time to increase performance (before an exam or similar), i.e. not permanently, then taking tyrosine is not a problem. They also want to integrate tyrosine into vaccines against cancer in the future, which probably (hopefully) would not be done if tyrosine actually caused cancer. On the other hand, it is known that tumors not only need sugar but also amino acids in order to able to grow and thrive. However, it is not only tyrosine that is used by cancer cells to grow, but also other amino acids, e.g. B. tryptophan, lysine, valine, methionine, serine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, and glutamine.

Other studies also advise limiting glycine in cancer. Cancer therapies can therefore be accompanied by a diet low in amino acids, which is also the case in holistic cancer centers, where there is a plant-based diet in particular, which is generally lower in protein than diets with meat, fish, and eggs. Best regards, your ZDG team

Increase brain power naturally

So if you want to increase your performance in a healthy way in the short term, you should better use an amino acid (L-tyrosine) and ignore psychotropic drugs. On the other hand, it is not advisable to take L-tyrosine for a long time as a stimulant. Here you should take a better look at what leads to your exhaustion and reorganize your everyday life as well as ensure more relaxation and a diet rich in vital substances so that you are naturally energetic and efficient.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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