Tyrosine is easily made in the body from phenylalanine and is very important to general metabolism, as it is a direct precursor of both adrenaline (as well as norepinephrine and dopamine) and thyroid hormones, all stimulants to metabolism and the nervous system. Folic acid, niacin, vitamin C, and copper are needed to support tyrosine metabolism into these and other important substances, which also include melanin, estrogen molecules, and the enkephalins (natural pain relievers). Tyrosine may stimulate growth hormone and can act as a mild appetite suppressant. It may also be useful in the control of anxiety or depression. Tyrosine is known as the “antidepressant” amino acid. It has a mild antioxidant effect, binding up free radicals (unstable molecules) that can cause damage to the cells and tissues, and is useful in smokers, people with stressful lives, or those exposed to chemicals and radiation. L-tyrosine has also been used, usually in a dose of 1–2 grams a day, for low sex drive, Parkinson’s disease, and in programs for drug problems or weight loss. As an antidepressant, 500–1000 mg. of L-tyrosine can be taken two or three times during the day. Since tyrosine has a more stimulating antidepressant effect, taking 1000 to 1500 mg. of L-tryptophan (which is more tranquilizing) at night for sleep may be a good therapeutic combination to help in mild to moderate depression.

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Elson M. Haas MD Written by Elson M. Haas MD

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