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Tyrosine: An Amino Acid That Keeps You Alert

By Edited Apr 16, 2016 0 0

Improve Your Mental Focus With Tyrosine-Rich Foods

Avocado is Rich in the Amino Acid Tyrosine

Boost Your Mental Stamina With Avocado
Credit: : mallydally's Photostream

Your body synthesizes proteins from amino acids. The variety of proteins from these amino acids have a wide array of functions in your body. These functions range from sleeping to maintaining alertness and mental focus. With regard to alertness and mental focus, tyrosine is the amino acid used as the substrate for producing the neurotransmitters in your brain that are responsible for alertness and mental focus. Norepinephrine is the primary neurotransmitter from tyrosine that helps to keep you mentally alert and focused.

Amino Acids and Proteins

Amino acids are substrates for protein synthesis.  

 Essential amino acids are those that must be obtained from outsides sources, whereas, the non-essential ones can be synthesized in the body from other precursors. Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid. It can be obtained from foods, and it can also be synthesized by your body. Its levels in your body and the subsequent physiological effects can be raised by increases in the amount of ingested tyrosine or its precursor, the essential amino acid phenylalanine.


Tyrosine improves your mood, motivation, alertness,concentration and mental focus. It also increases your energy level. Some of the adverse effects, noted mainly at high doses, are: insomnia, increase in heart rate, increase in blood pressure and restlessness. These adverse effects are more likely to occur if supplementary forms of tyrosine are consumed. Little or no adverse effects are expected if normal foods are consumed.

Tyrosine is the amino acid needed for synthesizing the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine. Tyrosine can be obtained directly from foods or it can be synthesized in the body from its precursor, phenylalanine. The synthesis of norepinephrine and dopamine is facilitated by the presence of oxygen, copper, iron, folic acid and vitamins C, B3 and B6. Norepinephrine primarily produces alertness, increased energy and improved metal focus; whereas, dopamine primarily improves cognition and pleasurable feeling, the latter effect occurring by stimulation of the pleasure center in the brain.

Effects of Caffeine vs Tyrosine

Caffeine and tyrosine share some similarities in their effects such as improvements in mood, memory, alertness and energy level. There are also significant differences in the effects of these substances. To begin with, caffeine is a drug; whereas, tyrosine is an important nutrient for your body. Secondly, the effects of caffeine are generally more profound compared to the more gentle effects of tyrosine. This is not surprising, however, because drugs usually have more pronounced effects than foods.

In terms of the mechanism of action, tyrosine is the substrate for synthesizing the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine.  The synthesized neurotransmitters are stored in vesicles (at the presynaptic nerve terminals). Therefore, the presence of tyrosine helps to assure that adequate supply of neurotransmitters are present at the nerve terminals. These stored neurotransmitters can then be released when they are needed. Caffeine, on the other hand, forces the release of the stored neurotransmitters. It does not promote the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Caffeine can overstimulate the release of the neurotransmitters and can lead to their depletion from the storage vesicles.

 The differences in the mechanism of action of caffeine and tyrosine may account for the severe side effects frequently seen with caffeine consumption but rarely seen with tyrosine consumption. These side effects include fatigue, depression, irritability and lethargy, seen in some people recovering from the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Nutritional sources of Tyrosine

Tyrosine is not an essential amino acid, therefore, you can obtain it from foods or your body can synthesize it from its precursor, phenylalanine, which must be obtained from foods or supplements because phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. Some sources of tyrosine-rich foods include: fish, poultry, milk, soy beans, peanuts, lima beans, almonds, avocados, bananas. pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Phenylalanine is present in a variety of protein-containing foods including meets, meat products, fish, soy beans, and some nuts.


Almond is a Tyrosine-Rich Food

Help Your Brain Nutritionally With Almond

Boost Your Alertness With Tyrosine-Rich Foods
Credit: KathikDimarkar's Photostream


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