Do you feel completely drained, or irritable after a long day at work? Have trouble staying motivated? Does your mind go blank during a public presentation?
All of the above nasty reactions could be linked to the amino acid L-tyrosine.
Amino Acids: The Lego Blocks of The Body
We’re all familiar with the basic premise of lego blocks - you dump them out and work diligently to build something out of the hundreds of small pieces.
Amino acids are no different, in many ways, from lego blocks. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein in our bodies. Without these blocks, it’s incredibly difficult to build anything of substance.
With the right blocks available, your body is able to build everything it needs.
The Relationship Between L-Tyrosine and Neurotransmitters
Catecholamines are essential for brain health. These neurotransmitters facilitate central nervous system functions that support mood, cognition and memory.
Catecholamines also facilitate dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) production in the brain.
A steady supply of L-tyrosine is important for your body to keep producing catecholamines, which means a steady supply of tyrosine is important for motivation, focus, attention, and overall happiness.
Tyrosine and Dopamine
Blood levels of tyrosine peak 1-2 hours after taking it, and can stay elevated for up to 8 hours . L-Tyrosine can pass the blood-brain barrier (the wall in the brain that says what can go in and out) and when this happens, only certain brain cells will absorb tyrosine.
In such cells, an enzyme called “tyrosine hydroxylase” will transform tyrosine into L-DOPA.
L-DOPA is then finally transformed into the neurotransmitter dopamine.
The enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase is very important because it regulates dopamine production. As great as dopamine is, you can have too much of a good thing, which will actually lead to a decrease in performance.
That is why it is always important to watch out for products that contain L-DOPA or Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean extract that contains L-DOPA). L-DOPA bypasses tyrosine hydroxylase, which could cause a surplus of dopamine levels.
Being cold on a mountain
One of the first scientific papers to study tyrosine and cognition was written almost 30 years ago . In this study, soldiers were placed on a cold mountain and tasked with solving mathematical problems.
These soldiers didn’t perform well, and unsurprisingly, were not very happy. The theory was that the stress of being at a high altitude and in the cold while performing a cognitively demanding task was depleting dopamine.
Because of the drop in dopamine, their mental performance declined.
When the researchers supplemented another group of these soldiers with Tyrosine to replenish their tyrosine stores, they were able to maintain their mental performance despite the cold and high altitude.
Other studies have also shown the benefits of taking tyrosine during various stresses like extreme heat , extreme cold , and sleep deprivation .
How does L-tyrosine enhance brain function?
One thing all these studies have in common is stress.
Tyrosine works based on something called the “repletion effect” which is literally the opposite of the depletion effect.
Think of your brain as a car. It needs fuel to run. When you drive fast, you burn more fuel, and if you run out, your car will stop running.
This is an example of the depletion effect. When you pull into a gas station and fill up the gas tank that is an example of the “repletion effect”.
During times of cognitive stress like zoom meetings, multitasking, math tests, or something as simple as driving, the neurons that release dopamine become very active.
At the same time, as a society we are reporting record high levels of emotional and workplace stress . If you’re feeling stressed, without even knowing it, you’re also activating your fight-or-flight stress response.
Remember those other two catecholamines we mentioned - Epinephrine and norepinephrine?
They use tyrosine as a building block as well. When you’re feeling stress (fight or flight), your body starts to dump large amounts of epinephrine and norepinephrine into your bloodstream to cause the fight or flight stress response.
Higher brain functions and stress responses both rely on tyrosine to make catecholamines. If one (or both) of these systems is being pushed hard, this can lead to shortages.
Unfortunately, if you are stressed out, it’s your brain that suffers the short end of the stick.
From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. If you have a lion chasing you, you need to run. You don’t need to form and present a cohesive argument as to why you would make a terrible meal!
Scientific studies show that if you give back tyrosine (replenish the stores), you can actually maintain mental performance during stress.
L-Tyrosine vs. Other Forms
Many nootropics out there rave about different forms of tyrosine or even sources of L-DOPA.
So why did we stick with plain old L-tyrosine?
Honestly, because it is tried, tested and proven.
L-Tyrosine is the form that has been the most clinically studied and proven the most effective. Also, it’s the form of tyrosine most commonly found in food.
At MindGain we whole-heartedly believe in the KISS adage - “Keep it super simple”. The brain is complex enough, the last thing we need is to add unproven forms of nutrients.
Improve Cognitive Function with MindGain
MindGain is a nootropic supplement that manipulates the specific neuro-molecular pathways related to cognitive function - Neurotransmitter production, and Mitochondrial health.
By also including the amino acid tyrosine, MindGain’s proprietary formula combines the essential ingredients brains need to improve performance in complex tasks while lowering stress levels.
Feed your starving brain. Order MindGain today and experience enhanced mental cognition while supporting optimal brain health.
 Glaeser, B.S., Melamed, E., Growdon, J.H. and Wurtman, R.J. (1979). Elevation of plasma tyrosine after a single oral dose of L-tyrosine. Life Sciences, [online] 25(3), pp.265–271. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/481129/ [Accessed 28 Jul. 2021].
 Banderet, L.E. and Lieberman, H.R. (1989). Treatment with tyrosine, a neurotransmitter precursor, reduces environmental stress in humans. Brain Research Bulletin, 22(4), pp.759–762.
 Tumilty, L., Davison, G., Beckmann, M. and Thatcher, R. (2011). Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 111(12), pp.2941–2950.
 Shurtleff, D., Thomas, J.R., Schrot, J., Kowalski, K. and Harford, R. (1994). Tyrosine reverses a cold-induced working memory deficit in humans. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 47(4), pp.935–941.
 Neri, D.F., Wiegmann, D., Stanny, R.R., Shappell, S.A., McCardie, A. and McKay, D.L. (1995). The effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during extended wakefulness. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, [online] 66(4), pp.313–319. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7794222/ [Accessed 28 Jul. 2021].
 Boyd, D. (2019). 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics - The American Institute of Stress. [online] The American Institute of Stress. Available at: https://www.stress.org/42-worrying-workplace-stress-statistics.