L-tyrosine supplements may trigger painful, long-lasting headaches called migraines in some people. If you already suffer from chronic headaches and migraines, avoiding these supplements is especially important. L-tyrosine, also known simply as tyrosine, is an amino acid produced naturally by your body. It forms during the synthesis of another amino acid called phenylalanine. Consult your doctor before trying tyrosine supplements.
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According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, studies have tested tyrosine as a treatment method for stress control, increased alertness and performance and for treating phenylketonuria, although the effectiveness of tyrosine supplements needs further research and studies to conclusively validate its health benefits. However, one of the supplement’s major side effects is migraine headaches, particularly in people who already suffer from chronic headaches.
What it Does
Tyrosine supplements are absorbed into your bloodstream and ultimately affect multiple systems in your body. It’s involved in the making of several neurotransmitters in the brain, including epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. It’s also involved in hormone production in the brain. This involvement in multiple processes in the brain may trigger headaches and migraines in people sensitive to tyrosine. The Mayo Clinic mentions the effects of certain medications and hormonal changes as two of the primary migraine triggers.
Your doctor may prescribe tyrosine supplements in some cases, but inform him or her if you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines. According to UMMC, dosage guidelines may vary, but a common dosage for adults includes consuming 5 to 10 g of tyrosine three times per day. Consume each dose about 30 minutes before a meal. Avoid taking tyrosine supplements if you take MAOIs, thyroid medication or medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Stop taking L-tyrosine supplements immediately if you experience migraine symptoms, and consult your doctor. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help control pain caused by migraines in the short term, but the Mayo Clinic states long-term use may lead to ulcers, rebound headaches or gastrointestinal bleeding. Your best bet is to avoid tyrosine supplements if you have frequent headaches or are taking an antidepressant categorized as an MAOI. As of 2011, more studies are needed to conclusively say L-tyrosine supplements are beneficial for athletic performance, alertness or to treat stress.