Diet and Nutrition 2022

Tyrosine: what it is for, functionsções and food list

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Tyrosine: what it is for, functionsções and food list
Tyrosine: what it is for, functionsções and food list

Tyrosine is a non-essential aromatic amino acid, that is, it is produced by the body from another amino acid, phenylalanine. In addition, it can also be obtained from the consumption of some foods, such as cheese, fish, avocado and nuts, for example, and in the form of a nutritional supplement, such as L-tyrosine.

This amino acid is a precursor of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, being associated with antidepressant effects, and is also present in the process of melanin synthesis, which is a substance that gives color to the skin, eyes and hair.

In addition, tyrosine contributes to the functioning of the thyroid gland as it participates in the production of the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are responsible for regulating metabolism.

What is it for

Tyrosine can be used in different situations, ensuring he alth benefits, the main ones being:

  • Improves mild and moderate depression and mood;
  • Improved memory in stressful situations, improving the ability to perform tasks under pressure. However, some studies suggest that this effect does not happen in older people;
  • Increased amount of white and red blood cells;
  • Helps in the treatment of some diseases, such as Parkinson's;
  • Improves performance in physical activity;
  • Decreases the intensity of the body's response to a disease or a stressful situation, converting it to an essential amino acid, since in these cases its needs are increased.

In this way, tyrosine supplementation could help people who have phenylketonuria, which is a disease in which phenylalanine cannot be synthesized.With this, it is not possible that there is formation of tyrosine, since this amino acid is formed from phenylalanine, resulting in tyrosine deficiency in the body. However, studies linking the use of tyrosine supplementation in people with phenylketonuria are still not conclusive.

Main functions

Tyrosine is an amino acid responsible for several functions in the body and when it arrives in the brain it becomes a precursor of some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline, and can therefore be considered an essential part of the nervous system.

In addition, tyrosine also acts in the formation of thyroid hormones, catecholestrogens and melanin. It is also important for the formation of several proteins in the body, including enkephalins, which are considered to be the body's natural painkillers, as they are involved in the regulation of pain.

List of foods rich in tyrosine

The following table indicates the main foods rich in tyrosine and the amount of this amino acid per serving:


Amount of tyrosine per serving of food

Beef (1 medium fillet)

2240 mg

Chicken breast (1 medium fillet)

2100 mg

Salmon (1 medium fillet)

1880 mg

Tuna (1 medium fillet)

1502 mg

Tofu (100 gr)

701 mg

Soybean sprouts (100 grams)

478 mg

Oats (½ cup)

447 mg

Cooked lentils (1 cup)

477 mg

Baked beans (1 cup)

473 mg

Milk (1 glass)

388 mg

Hemp Seeds (3 tbsp)

378 mg

Barley (½ cup)

329 mg

Pumpkin seeds (3 tbsp)

309 mg

Egg (1 piece)

249 mg

Ricotta (2 tbsp)

169 mg

Pistachio (46 pieces)

151 mg

Cashew nuts (20 pieces)

133 mg

Almond (20 pieces)

128 mg

In addition to these, other foods in which tyrosine can be found are mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, eggplant, beets, radishes, okra, turnips, chicory, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, parsley, red onions, spinach, tomato and cabbage.

How to use Tyrosine Supplement

There are two types of supplements, some with the free amino acid tyrosine and others that have N-acetyl L-tyrosine, popularly known as NALT. The difference is that NALT is more soluble in water and can be metabolized more slowly in the body, while to receive the same effect, free tyrosine must be consumed in higher doses.

To improve mental performance in the face of a stressful situation or due to periods of sleep deprivation, for example, the recommendation is 100 to 200 mg/kg per day. Although studies are not conclusive regarding the ingestion of this amino acid before performing physical activities to improve performance, consumption between 500 and 2000 mg 1 hour before activity is recommended.

In any case, it is best to consult a doctor or nutritionist before taking a tyrosine supplement.

Supplementation contraindications

The use of the supplement is contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as there is not much information about it. It should also be avoided by people with hyperthyroidism or Graves' disease.

Also, Tyrosine may interact with medications such as Levodopa, with medications to treat thyroid problems, and with antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, as it can cause blood pressure to rise.

People with liver or kidney problems should use tyrosine supplement only under medical supervision.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of tyrosine supplement use are headache, nausea, acidity, joint pain, and feeling tired.

Furthermore, tyrosine can cause an increase in blood pressure and, if consumed in large amounts, can have a laxative effect.

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