Today I’m reviewing tyrosine, the amino acid that boosts catecholamines and helps with focus, motivation, energy (especially when you crave carbs for energy) and the blah kind of depression. It’s wonderful for helping you easily quit coffee/caffeine (when you are using it to “self-medicate” due to low catecholamines). It also provides support for the thyroid and surprising as it sounds, it may even ease some types of anxiety.
I’m also sharing some additional resources for you on tyrosine.
Tyrosine helps with energy, gives someone else migraines – look at precautions
Here is some feedback from my recent facebook post about tyrosine
- Lorraine shared:
It really helped me have energy and endurance to be able to work out again! I went from not being able to even handle 20 minutes of weight lifting to doing regular 30 minute sessions and feeling energised and strong instead of depleted and exhausted.
- Fay shared that it gives her a migraine. Migraines are one of contraindications with tyrosine if you are prone to them or have a history of migraines (and Fay does a history). This doesn’t mean you can’t ever benefit from tyrosine. With clients with migraine history we just start low, having them open a 500mg capsule and use just 50-100mg to start and then increase if they can.
- Aaron Mello, Master Nutrition Therapist and founder of MoodFood Clinic, a practice that focuses on men’s mental health, loves using tyrosine with his clients and prefers it over phenylalanine because of the PKU contraindication. I agree and prefer tyrosine although I’ve only ever had one client with PKU. Aaron also mentioned that he also likes a combination product like Designs for Health DopaBoost: “I like that it has P5P and the mucuna is a natural source of L-dopa in addition to the tyrosine.” I do prefer standalone amino acids to start with (so just using tyrosine alone) but do also like the combinations in DopaBoost.
With all the amino acids, it’s important to be aware of the precautions. I mentioned PKU above. Here are other situations when tyrosine cannot be used: melanoma and Grave’s disease/overactive thyroid.
As with migraines, tyrosine does need to be watched with high blood pressure and bipolar disorder i.e. it may be tolerated and may not be tolerated. A trial will help you figure this out.
I personally can’t use either mucuna or tyrosine in large quantities but can tolerate the small amount in the Source Naturals GABA Calm product. The same tyrosine precautions do need to be considered when using GABA Calm for the low GABA type of anxiety.
Focus issues and ADHD – tyrosine or GABA?
Anxiety can often show up as focus issues or ADHD, especially in children who may not be able to articulate that they are anxious. Jenny is a mom in my facebook community and a friend of hers recommended GABA for her daughter after reading some of my posts. She shared this wonderful feedback:
My daughter hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD but has a lot of ADHD qualities. We were having a huge amount of behavior problems as she is getting older (she’s 11). I did some research and went to the health food store and bought a bottle [of GABA Calm]. At this point I was mentally exhausted from all the fighting and drama at home and at school. I was desperate and didn’t want to put her on any hard medication.
She has had amazing behavior at school and at home since giving it to her. She’s almost like different child. GABA has truly changed our life. She’s been taking it for almost 2 months.
Anxiety and ADHD – where to start?
I recently received a great question from someone who heard my interview on the migraine summit:
I have a whole lot of overlap here. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD with have anxiety issues. I also have a gluten sensitivity and migraines. Luckily, since I meditate daily, my migraines only occur every other month or so but usually involve weather changes.
It’s not uncommon to have overlaps and often addressing a few factors helps all issues. It sounds like she is gluten-free which is one common underlying factor in ADHD, migraines and anxiety. If someone is coming to see me for their anxiety we’ll work on that first – using GABA or tryptophan first – because tyrosine can help with ADHD but can make someone more anxious. We calm them first and then look at improving focus issues. With ADHD and anxiety, I also consider low blood sugar and making sure animal protein is being consumed at breakfast, and also check for low zinc and low iron (for starters).
GABA didn’t help her anxiety but tyrosine did
Everyone is different so using the trial method is the best way to figure out what you need. One of my past clients who had terrible anxiety, trialed both GABA and tryptophan and while she did get some benefits with both it just wasn’t enough.
She was sleeping better but still felt so stressed and anxious when preparing for an important meeting at work. The anxiety also seemed to get worse during the meeting which she was in charge of running. She did score high on the low catecholamines section on the amino acid questionnaire but were working on the anxiety before addressing poor focus and low motivation. It turned out that her anxiety escalated around her work meetings because of her lack of focus and low motivation – she was pushing herself to get through them. Once she added tyrosine her anxiety was under control. In this instance tyrosine actually helped ease the anxiety because he ADHD and motivation and drive improved!
Here is one tyrosine product I use (there are many others on the market)
Progressive Labs tyrosine 500mg: 500mg l-tyrosine. As I mentioned this is the last amino acid I trial with my anxious clients because it can make you more anxious (although as I mentioned above, with one client, it reduced her anxiety because she was able to focus better at work).
As with all the amino acids, when using tyrosine:
- Start low (500mg is a typical starting dose) and increase as needed.
- Do a trial to determine if the ADHD, fatigue, depression, low motivation is due to low catecholamines. I always do this with clients before starting any amino acid. Be sure to read how to do an amino acid trial. It has the amino acid questionnaire, the precautions and information on how to use targeted individual amino acids.
- Take between meals and away from protein for the best effects
Tyrosine should never be used after 3pm as it’s too stimulating when used after this time. For my clients with sleep issues we go slow and stop after the mid-morning dose until we determine if sleep is being affected.
This blog post is part of the series of amino acid product reviews:
- Tryptophan for low serotonin (worry-in-the-head anxiety)
- GABA for low GABA symptoms (physical anxiety)
- Glutamine for calming, intense sugar cravings, gut healing and low blood sugar
- DPA for weepiness, pain and comfort and reward eating
The resources in this blog and my other articles are intended to be used in conjunction with my book: The Antianxiety Food Solution – How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood, and End Cravings. If you do not have my book I highly recommend getting it and reading it before jumping in and taking the amino acid supplements.
There is a complete chapter on the amino acids and one for pyroluria, plus information on real whole food, sugar and blood sugar, gluten, digestion and much more.
You can find the tyrosine product I recommend on this blog: The Antianxiety Food Solution Amino Acid and Pyroluria Supplements
For today’s tyrosine review:
- What about your success stories with tyrosine? how has it helped you?
- Or has it been an issue for you?
- As I mentioned above it’s the last amino acid I used with my anxious clients because it can make you more anxious but it may just help your anxiety
If you have questions or feedback please post them below or on the supplements blog
Additional Anxiety Resources