Nootropic Profile: L-Tyrosine
We owe our lives and the lives of every living organism on earth to amino acids.
They mix together to form a nearly infinite variety of combinations known as proteins to conduct the tasks needed for life to exist.
Everything from enzymes to DNA is made from different combinations of amino acids.
Out of all the amino acids found on earth, 20 are considered essential for human life.
These 20 are combined into millions of different "recipes" to make the proteins we use.
L-Tyrosine is simply one of these 20 amino acids and is found in a wide variety of foods naturally. It’s considered to be non-essential, meaning we can actually create this amino acid ourselves (from another amino acid known as phenylalanine).
This begs the questions as to how a simple amino acid, found in numerous common food items like beef, dairy, nuts, and seeds, can be used as a nootropic.
The answer lies in L-Tyrosines critical use as a precursor for a class of neurotransmitters known as the catecholamines.
What Are Catecholamines?
This class of neurotransmitters plays a central role in the stress response. They include dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
When we are subjected to a stressful event, such as sleep deprivation, cold stress, or approached by something like a bear or a cliffs edge, our body responds to this acute stress by releasing catecholamines.
These hormones cause effects like:
Constricts our blood vessels
Improve our concentration
Slows down digestion
Turn down immune function
Dilate our airways
These actions help us to run faster, think quicker, and in theory will help us get out of a stressful situation much quicker. The goal is to increase our chances of surviving.
In short durations, this is very beneficial and can get us out of a jam or stressful event very effectively. When these stress responses go on for a longer duration, however, we can become depleted in the catecholamine precursors like L-Dopa and L-Tyrosine.
This is where L-Tyrosine comes in as a nootropic.
How Does L-Tyrosine Act As A Nootropic?
This amino acid acts as a building block for catecholamines.
In this way, it can be used to supplement the actions of nootropic substances that target any of these neurotransmitters and helps to ameliorate and lengthen the amount of time it takes for us to become depleted of these messengers during stress.
Whether this stress comes from long working or studying hours, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, or physical activity, prolonging the time it takes for us to "hit the wall" will help us perform optimally for a longer period of time.
L-Tyrosine is not directly nootropic, rather, it acts as a supportive for other nootropics and to buffer the body from stress. It helps us maintain our optimum functioning in terms of the stress response both cognitively and physically.
This is why L-Tyrosine is such a common addition to both physical performance supplements, and nootropics.
Best Uses For L-Tyrosine Supplementation
Due to the precursor status of L-Tyrosine, and the marked improvements tyrosine offers in preventing or slowing the rate of depletion of the catecholamine neurotransmitters in the brain, this amino acid has a long list of broad benefits towards fatigue, cognitive endurance, and stress resistance.
As such, Tyrosine supplementation has become a popular addition to nootropic formulas, especially those interacting with dopamine, adrenaline, and more epinephrine such as Adderall or modafinil.
The crash that is often associated with these more stimulating nootropics may be reduced or prevented altogether with effective L-Tyrosine supplementation.
L-Tyrosine is also useful for the same reasons for states or activities causing high stress in the body.
High altitude exposure, cold stress, sleep deprivation, long exhaustive hours at work or study, and high-intensity athletics will all find benefit from L-Tyrosine supplementation in one form or another.
Nootropic Stacks That Include L-Tyrosine
The Sunlight Experiment
(Updated October 2018)