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L-tyrosine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that makes important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which help nerve cells communicate and influences mood.

What are its health benefits?

Tyrosine is made from another common amino acid, phenylalanine. It helps produce melanin, the pigment responsible for hair and skin colour, and aids in the functioning of organs responsible for making and regulating hormones, such as the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands.

Reportedly, tyrosine supplements may have the following benefits:

  • Increase alertness after sleep deprivation
  • Improve memory and mental function under psychological stress
  • Enhance sport performance, including in bodybuilding
  • For the treatment of phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic disorder in which the body can’t process phenylalanine – it leads to brain damage, including intellectual disability
  • It has been punted as alleviating the symptoms of depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but scientific evidence does not confirm this.

Do you have a deficiency?

It’s rare to have a tyrosine deficiency although low levels are associated with low blood pressure, low body temperature and an underactive thyroid.

Find it in these food sources

This amino acid is found in the following foods:

  • Soy products
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Peanuts and almonds
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Milk, cheese, yoghurt and cottage cheese
  • Lima beans
  • Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

There is no RDA, as your body makes its own supply. However, if you’re considering supplementation, consult with your Clicks pharmacist or your doctor about the recommended daily dosage.

Rather avoid supplementation in if you suffer from an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or Graves disease, an immune system disorder where is an overproduction of thyroid hormones.

Not enough is known about safe dosages for children and for women during pregnancy or breastfeeding, or those with kidney or liver disease.

Know the overdose risks

If you ingest too much, possible side effects could include:

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015