Have you ever noticed that when you get stressed out, you lose focus? In this review, we talk about one of the best nootropics for keeping your brainpower sharp during times of stress: tyrosine (or even better, N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine).
Tyrosine is nootropic precursor used to make the catecholamine neurotransmitters, which are critical for mental performance but notably depleted by stress. Supplemental tyrosine seems to counter the cognitive consequences of stress, restoring peak neurotransmitters and enhancing “cognitive activation.” It has also been tied to mind-body performance, and is used for ADD/ADHD.
TL/DNR: If you’re overdoing it with work, juggling too many tasks, stressing all day and not getting enough rest at night, Tyrosine can help restore the brain chemicals that are depleted by your hectic lifestyle. In counteracting cognitive stress, it helps with multitasking, memory, mood and general cognitive performance.
Let’s review Tyrosine in more detail.
How Tyrosine is supposed to work
Tyrosine (or call it L-Tyrosine, same thing) is an amino acid that acts as a “master precursor” to several of the most important neurotransmitters — called catecholamines — for memory, focus, attention, and mood.
Catecholamine imbalances have been linked to some attention disorders, like ADD and ADHD. Our levels of these brain chemicals also decline as we grow older, complicating matters further.
The Stress-Brain Chemical-Tyrosine Connection
Oh wait… it’s about to get even more complicated (and crappy) for our catecholamines.
Stress increases demand for catecholamine neurotransmitters, which can lead to depletion of these brain chemicals. Low catecholamine levels actually weaken our stress resistance, making us more susceptible to stress-induced catecholamines…. you get the idea.
When it comes to brain health and mental performance, stress starts a vicious cycle. If you’re badly stressed out, then your brain chemical balance may get all out of whack, leaving you with those lousy feelings of stress-related “brain burnout.”
- Tyrosine is most important as a nootropic because it helps replenish the catecholamine neurotransmitters that are depleted by stress.
This positions Tyrosine as the most important nootropic for stress, in my opinion. It offers additional brain support beyond that too, which is a bonus… but let’s check out that big Tyrosine nootropic bio-activity first and foremost:
Researchers have suggested that L tyrosine as a supplement can affect the 3 main catecholamine neurotransmitters that are diminished by stress:
- Epinephrine: “Adrenaline Rush” brain chemical unleashed during fight-or-flight; energizes mind & body for action
- Norepinephrine: Made from tyrosine plus L-DOPA, affects the brain’s attention center for vigilant and focused mind state
- Dopamine: Mind-body brain chemical linked to alertness and motivation; ADD and ADHD drugs work by boosting dopamine
Stress hormone blocker
Here’s tyrosine’s bonus benefit for stress. When we are stressed, our brains “burn” through more norepinephrine, leading to familiar symptoms of stress related mental burnout. One animal study found that supplementing with tyrosine before stress exposure seemed to stop norepinephrine levels from tanking during stress exposure. Researchers suggested that “supplemental tyrosine can protect against several adverse consequences of such stress.”
Tyrosine Nootropic Benefits
Supplement makers say that L tyrosine is good for mental alertness, mood, and helps with stress responses. Other claims linked to Tyrosine are that it improves focus after sleep deprivation, and may help with memory & inattentiveness.
If you ask me, those supplement makers are being conservative. I believe that tyrosine does even more. The links between tyrosine and stress are so strong, and there is a decent selection of human research studies showing cognitive benefits with tyrosine supplementation. For people who are stressed out and try to do too much, this is the nootropic that will help replenish the brain chemicals you are depleting with this lifestyle – and just might unleash greater mental performance in doing so.
Let’s see what the researchers have to say.
Researchers have suggested L-Tyrosine might:
Improve memory in stressful multitasking situations
In this study (of questionable quality), tyrosine supplementation was found to enhance accuracy and improve retrieval on working memory tasks. It failed to affect cognition related to mass, visual tasks, or auditory tasks. Researchers said that tyrosine might be good for maintaining mental performance and scenarios when it is compromised, including multitasking.
Maintain mental sharpness during sleep deprivation
In this study, researchers administered tyrosine to subject during an episode of what we all know as an “all nighter.” Subjects had to stay awake overnight, a total of over 24 hours without sleeping, performing mental tests and mood tests throughout. Six hours into the experiment, half the subjects received tyrosine, the other, placebo. Researchers reported tyrosine seemed to maintain brainpower against the usual dolling effects associated with overworking and not getting enough sleep.
Support the brain during combat training
In this small study, military cadet undergoing combat training took five daily serving of a protein drink fortified with tyrosine, or placebo. Researchers tested the subjects before supplementation and six days after, when the study concluded. They reported that tyrosine was linked to better performance on memory tests and tracking tests versus placebo, and that it seemed to reduce the effects of stress and fatigue on mental performance.
Promotes cognitive performance under cold stress
This study investigated how tyrosine supplements might influence mental, physical, and psycho motor performance in subjects who had been dunked in cold water that reduce their core temperature. Researchers reported that the tyrosine group seems to maintain function on match to sample cognitive tests and marksmanship tests; placebo group performance decreased 18% and 14% in those tests, respectively.
How to Take Tyrosine
- Studies use a dosage range of 100 – 300 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight daily.
- Retail Tyrosine supplements are around 500 to 1500 mg daily, in tablets & capsules
- N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a stronger form, so dosage may be lower
L-Tyrosine vs. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
Which is better?
Regular L-Tyrosine is actually the El Cheapo form of this powerhouse nootropic.
N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) is the good stuff.
NALT has an extra acetyl group, a slight chemical change that makes it more bioavailable, meaning more of it reaches your bloodstream, more easily. It’s a premium form, a little more expensive, but I buy it ’cause it’s worth it.
My Experience With N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine
My favorite nootropic stack supplies 175 mg of N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, so I am getting this one on a regular basis. But in a stack, it’s impossible to isolate and assess NALT’s unique benefits.
Luckily for you, I have also taken N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine in a much simpler formula that stacks it with vitamin B6 and folate (to assist the conversion process, allegedly). This kinda-standalone supplement delivers 300 mg of NALT per serving, as one big, chalky tablet. Check it:
In my experience, N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is a nootropic that delivers tangible benefits.
For me, this wasn’t so much a reduction of stress, but an acceleration of recovery. I have noticed that when working intensely (and stressing) while taking N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, I seem to bounce back better after long, difficult workdays. A good night sleep and some N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, I find that I wake up more refreshed and tend to have a much better second day in terms of work productivity and even mood.
I take NALT every day when I take my nootropic stack supplement. I still keep the horse tablets around too, and take them occasionally as a booster when life is especially hectic or stressful.
Is L-Tyrosine A Good Nootropic?
I say YES. In fact, I am going to go one step beyond and say N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is one of the best nootropics, and a smart one to include your brain health regimen. This is especially true if you are performance-driven, like to multitask, and extend yourself too much mentally. That stress is not doing your brain chemistry any favors, but Tyrosine can help.
Overall Nootropic Power Rating