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Tyrosine - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

What is Tyrosine ?

Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid, which means that it is manufactured from other amino acids in the liver; it does not have to be obtained directly through the diet. It was first isolated from casein in 1849 and is abundant in insulin as well as the enzyme papain and can be synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine in the body.Tyrosine is important to overall metabolism. It is a precursor of adrenaline and the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which regulate mood and stimulate metabolism and the nervous system.

Uses and Benefits of Tyrosine

Tyrosine acts as a mood elevator; a lack of adequate amounts of tyrosine leads to a deficiency of norepinephrine in the brain, which in turn can result in depression. It also acts as a mild antioxidant, suppresses the appetite, and helps to reduce body fat. It aids in the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin and hair color) and in the functions of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands. It is also involved in the metabolism of the amino acid phenylalanine.

Tyrosine attaches to iodine atoms to form active thyroid hormones. Not surprisingly, therefore, low plasma levels of tyrosine have been associated with hypothyroidism. Supplemental L-tyrosine has been used for stress reduction, and research suggests it may be helpful against chronic fatigue and narcolepsy. It has been used to help individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, low sex drive, allergies, and headaches, as well as persons under­going withdrawal from drugs. It may also help people with Parkinson's disease.

Tyrosine can also be produced from phenylalanine in the body. Supplements of L-tyrosine should be taken at bedtime or with a high-carbohydrate meal so that it does not have to compete for absorption with other amino acids.

Tyrosine is used for stress reduction and may be beneficial in narcolepsy, fatigue, anxiety, depression, allergies, headaches as well as drug withdrawal. In a study, using soldiers, tyrosine proved effective in alleviating stress and keeping them more alert

Deficiency Symptoms of Tyrosine

Symptoms of tyrosine deficiency can also include low blood pressure,low body temperature (such as cold hands and feet), and restless leg syndrome.

Recommended Dosage of Tyrosine

Dosage levels are not confirmed but some experiments have been performed with people taking up to 5 - 7 grams per day, with no confirmed toxic levels, but people taking MAO inhibitors, who suffer from high blood pressure and have problems with skin cancer should not take supplementation of L-tyrosine, and should aim to limit their intake of food sources high in this nutrient.

Rich Food Sources of Tyrosine

Natural Food sources of tyrosine include almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.

Caution and Side effects

Persons taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, commonly prescribed for depression, must strictly limit their intake of foods containing tyrosine and should not take any supplements containing L-tyrosine, as it may lead to a sudden and dangerous rise in blood pressure. Anyone who takes prescription medication for depression should discuss necessary dietary restrictions with his or her physician.

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