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Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid that is synthesized in the body from phyenylalanine. Because tyrosine is a precursor of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, both of which regulate mood, a deficiency of tyrosine (leading to a deficiency of norepinephrine) can result in depression.
Tyrosine aids in the the production of melanin (pigment responsible for hair and skin color) and in the functions of the adrenal, thryroid, and pituitary glands. Tyrosine deficiency has been linked to hypothyroidism, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and restless leg syndrome.
Because tyrosine binds unstable molecules that can potentially cause damage to the cells and tissues, it is considered a mild antioxidant. Thus, it may be useful in heavy smokers and in people who have been exposed to harmful chemicals and radiation.
Although tyrosine is found in soy products, chicken, fish, almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds, it is difficult to get therapeutic amounts of tyrosine from food. It is also produced from phenylalanine in the body.
Many tyrosine supplements are available.
How to Take It
Tyrosine should be taken 30 minutes before meals three times a day on an empty stomach (with juice or water). Tyrosine should not be taken with other amino acids or with proteins such as milk.
Tyrosine is more effective if it is taken with up to 25 mg of vitamin B6.
Tyrosine should not be taken by patients who are taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors for depression or by patients with high blood pressure because it can cause dangerous elevations of blood pressure. Tyrosine may also cause the growth of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) by promoting the division of cancer cells. Migraine headaches and gastrointestinal upset may occur after taking supplements.
No harmful drug interactions have been reported.
Balch JF, Balch PA. Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing. 2nd ed. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing; 1997:42.
Haas EM. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, Calif: Celestial Arts; 1992:51.
Mindell E, Hopkins V. Prescription Alternatives. New Canaan, Conn: Keats Publishing; 1998:398.
Shealy CN. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies. Shaftesbury, England: Element; 1998:269
Werbach MR. Nutritional Influences on Illness. New Canaan, Conn: Keats Publishing, 1987:162.
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