Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that it can either be obtained through your diet, or it can be naturally synthesized in your body as it is needed. N-acetyl L-tyrosine is a synthetically altered form of tyrosine that contains acetic acid, which increases tyrosine's bioavailability and absorption into your bloodstream. Because of the increased bioavailability of acetic acid, N-acetyl L-tyrosine is the most common form of supplemental tyrosine. Consult your physician before using a supplement containing any form of tyrosine.
Tyrosine has been used as a medical treatment to improve the symptoms associated with phenylketonuria, or PKU. PKU is a serious condition that causes your body to block the absorption of the amino acid, phenylalanine, which is essential in the health and maintenance of brain function. According to the book, "Nutrition for Health, Fitness, and Sport," N-acetyl L-tyrosine is effective in increasing serum tyrosine levels in the blood, and can be an effective treatment for PKU.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, tyrosine plays an important role in the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, two hormones that regulate your stress response. When you are under stress, your body may not be able to synthesize enough tyrosine naturally, which may cause a tyrosine deficiency. Supplementation with additional tyrosine, such as in the form of N-acetyl L-tyrosine, may help improve performance and memory when you are under psychological stress.
N-acetyl L-tyrosine can be used as an effective sleep aid, according to the book, "Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements." Tyrosine is needed for the synthesis of brain chemicals, such as serotonin. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that is sometimes called the "happiness hormone" and can increase your mood and help you sleep at night. Taking 500 mg of N-acetyl L-tyrosine before bed may help you fall asleep faster and provide a deeper, more restful sleep.
Tyrosine supplements may cause some side effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In some individuals, tyrosine supplementation can trigger migraine headaches and gastrointestinal distress. Tyrosine may also increase thyroid hormone production, which can be dangerous if you suffer from an overactive thyroid or Graves disease. Tyrosine may also interact with some medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, thyroid hormone and levodopa. Talk with your doctor before taking a tyrosine supplement if you are also taking any medications to make sure there will be no adverse interactions.
- "Nutrition for Health, Fitness, and Sport"; Melvin H. Williams; 2002
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Tyrosine
- "Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements"; Jose Antonio, Douglass Kalman, Jeffrey R. Stout, and Mike Greenwood; 2008