|December 7, 2023

Feeling The Effects Of Stress? L-Tyrosine Can Support Focus And The Brain

By Spencer Brooks
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy on 11/28/2023

Feeling The Effects Of Stress? L-Tyrosine Can Support Focus And The Brain

  • Tyrosine (also called L-tyrosine) is a nootropic supplement that may support your brain and help manage stress so you stay focused.
  • Tyrosine supplies what your body needs to generate three important neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline. It’s common in food, but to get its brain-supporting, stress-relieving benefits, choose purified tyrosine in supplement form.
  • Read on to learn about the right dosage and best source of tyrosine.

L-tyrosine is an amino acid (the building block of a protein) with science-backed benefits for your brain, focus, stress management and more. Getting adequate amounts of tyrosine, either through diet or from a supplement, can help support your brain function. Keep reading to learn how it works, how to take it and all the potential benefits it offers.

How tyrosine works

Illustration of neuron on blue background

Tyrosine is essential when you’re dealing with daily stress or need to work on something requiring a lot of focused attention. Tyrosine is a precursor to some important neurotransmitters in your brain, and it is an essential amino acid. Without tyrosine, your body can’t make:[1]

  • Dopamine for mood and motivation
  • Norepinephrine for muscle recovery and blood flow
  • Adrenaline for focus and drive

When you’re under physical or mental stress, your neurotransmitter supplies can start to run low. But if you have adequate tyrosine in your bloodstream, it will replenish the neurotransmitters before stress can deplete them, allowing you to stay focused and sharp for longer without getting burned out.[2]

And because tyrosine is a building block for numerous brain chemicals, it offers many benefits. Let’s take a look at the main benefits of tyrosine, and how you can make sure your brain gets enough.

L-tyrosine benefits for stress, mood and more

Relieves stress and helps you focus

Woman completing puzzle on floor

Stress affects your brain’s norepinephrine levels, and when norepinephrine is affected, your memory, focus, and general cognition can all suffer.[3]

If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, tyrosine can help. Tyrosine keeps your brain performing at its best during stress and improves your focus with tasks that demand mental endurance.[4] In this way, tyrosine is a nootropic — it helps your brain handle challenges, without getting burned out.

Related: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out these self-care tips to bounce back when life has you down.

May improve mood

Closeup of neuron illustration

If you’re experiencing a low mood, tyrosine may be able to help. That’s because tyrosine turns into dopamine, a central neurotransmitter that controls pleasure and motivation. Dopamine also influences serotonin, and together, the two are thought to play a central role in regulating your mood.[5]

A 2016 rodent study found that tyrosine is involved in the body’s stress response and restores normal levels of noradrenaline (norepinephrine) in the brain.[6] However, other research suggests that tyrosine does not have an effect on mood disorders like depression.[7]

That said, there aren’t any notable risks or side effects to taking tyrosine.

Should you take tyrosine for your thyroid?

Woman with hands on neck

Tyrosine is also a precursor to levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone that’s low in individuals with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. However, tyrosine may not be appropriate for you if you have an underactive thyroid.[8]

In mice, tyrosine replenished thyroid hormones that were low due to stress.[9] But in humans, there’s no evidence that tyrosine improves thyroid function. In fact, some endocrinologists report that patients who take tyrosine see a further decrease in thyroid function. In theory, that could happen because tyrosine boosts norepinephrine, which regulates thyroid hormones and is already often too high in people with hypothyroidism.[10]

If you have concerns, talk to your health-care provider before taking tyrosine.

How to use tyrosine supplements

Hand with pills in palm

You can get tyrosine from foods like chicken, turkey, fish and cheese, but if you want the cognitive benefits of tyrosine, a supplement delivers higher amounts better suited for cognitive support.

Purified tyrosine is directly delivered to neurotransmitter synthesis, while tyrosine in food goes to your muscles, along with all the rest of the amino acids you eat.[11]

Fortunately, tyrosine supplements are inexpensive and effective.

Tyrosine side effects

Person wearing red shoes next to kettlebell

Tyrosine supplements are quite safe. There are no major reported side effects of tyrosine, even when taking acute doses as high as 10,000 mg.[12]

  • Does tyrosine make you sleepy? Some people say tyrosine can make them sleepy. Keep reading to learn about how much tyrosine to take and how to experiment with your dosage.

Tyrosine timing and sourcing

Fingers holding a pill

  • What type of tyrosine should I buy? You can get tyrosine on its own, or in special blends designed to amplify its brain-boosting effects.
  • When should I take tyrosine? It is best to take tyrosine at least 30 minutes before meals so that its absorption does not compete with other amino acids, or take it with only fats or carbohydrates.[13]
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This is an updated version of an article originally published October 2018.