L-tyrosine is an amino acid required for protein synthesis, and is a precursor for several important compounds, including thyroxin, melanin, and the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine and norepinephrine are important hormones and central nervous system transmitters that help maintain mood, attention and focus, and cognition. By increasing dopamine and norepinephrine at the cellular level, tyrosine may help maintain neurological health and improve mood, cognition, attention, and memory.
Tyrosine is a potent antioxidant and appears to act as an adaptogen during conditions of physical and mental stress, as shown by its ability to normalize blood pressure, alleviate fatigue, and improve cognitive function, attention, psychomotor skills, and memory. These effects may be due to tyrosine’s ability to affect brain chemicals and promote positive changes in brain pathways.
Tyrosine helps alleviate some of the effects of stress. Studies in humans show supplementation with tyrosine improves various aspects of cognitive function and physical symptoms of fatigue during exposure to physical stressors such as cold, high altitude, and extended wakefulness. Improvements are thought to be due to balancing brain chemicals and improving cognitive function.
L-tyrosine has multiple actions in the body. However, the most clinically significant is its ability to form the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Dopamine and norepinephrine are important neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that regulate the activities of cells, including modulation of mood, blood pressure, cellular energy, and the stress response. Deficits of dopamine and norepinephrine are associated with the development of neurological disorders, including attention disorders, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, mood disorders, depression, and narcolepsy. By increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels, tyrosine may improve the symptoms of these disorders.
The ability of norepinephrine and dopamine to dynamically modulate cognitive function and physiology through intracellular signalling mechanisms is a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, is often thought of as rewiring the brain and is an essential process for learning and memory, and for responding to changes in environment, experience, or brain chemistry.
The process of neuroplasticity is critical to understanding how tyrosine works during periods of stress. Loss of dopamine and norepinephrine during chronic environmental stress is associated with impaired neuroplasticity, contributing to cognitive decline, fatigue, memory loss, and problems with mood. A number of research studies indicate tyrosine supplementation is effective in lessening the body’s response to stress, including exposure to cold, fatigue, prolonged work or exercise, and sleep deprivation.
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