Why Is The Amino Acid Tyrosine So Good for the Brain?

old message Why Is The Amino Acid Tyrosine So Good for the Brain? Darrell Miller 06/18/11

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Date: June 18, 2011 12:20 PM
Subject: Why Is The Amino Acid Tyrosine So Good for the Brain?

Tyrosine is an amino acid that serves as an immediate precursor to several organic compounds found in the brain and the central nervous system. It is one of the 20 amino acids utilized by cells in protein synthesis. As such, it is an important component of the human diet, albeit not classified as an essential nutrient. Mental infirmities not related to age has been linked to tyrosine deficiency.

There is no daily value for tyrosine, but it is an integral part of proteins obtained from both animals and plants. Also, supplementation of tyrosine has not shown any adverse effects. That being said, deficiency in tyrosine is not unheard of. In fact, there is a rare autosomal recessive disorder called phenylketonuria that interferes with the synthesis of tyrosine and leads to brain damage and seizures.

Prevents Brain Damage

Tyrosine is one of the amino acids necessary for the manufacture of neurotransmitters and proteins that display vital functions in the nervous system. In phenylketonuria, the synthesis of tyrosine from phenylalanine is impaired, causing the build-up of the latter. High concentrations of phenylalanine deprive the brain of other amino acids, such as tyrosine. This results in progressive mental retardation.

The presence of tyrosine in the central nervous system is very important in mental development. It works as nutrient for nerve cells that powers neuronal activities. Not surprisingly, regular intake of tyrosine has been observed to display cerebroprotective properties. It has also been linked to the prevention of headaches following an intense physical activity.

Improves Stress Tolerance

It has long been suggested that supplementation of tyrosine may improve stress tolerance, but studies that support this claim have surfaced only recently. High levels of tyrosine in the brain appear to improve physiological responses to stress in both animal and human studies. Many researchers believe that depleting levels of tyrosine in times of stress contribute to mental fatigue.


Tyrosine is a precursor to catecholamines, organic compounds that function as neurotransmitters and hormones. It is converted to epinephrine, or adrenaline, which is responsible for the activities in the peripheral nervous system during stress. It is also converted to norepinephrine, which sends signals to both sides of the brain and forms a neurotransmitter system within the brain and the spinal cord.

Promotes Mental Clarity

Tyrosine plays a role in sustaining mental clarity, the reason why it is thought to produce nootropic effects. For one, the availability of tyrosine in the brain improves mental function, especially under psychological stress. It is utilized by the brain in the manufacture of brain chemicals involved in cognitive function and even motor skills.

More importantly, tyrosine provides a ready pool of levodopa, which increases dopamine levels. Both tyrosine and dopamine levels have been observed to be low in individuals suffering from clinical depression, suggesting that tyrosine may provide mood-altering effects. Since there is no harm in regular intake of tyrosine, it has been promoted as an alternative to other mood enhancers.

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