As time marches on and my friends get older (not me, I magically stay young, of course!) more and more of them ask me about natural approaches to sharpen their minds.
There are several supplements that can help. But today I’d like to focus on one that gets neglected…tyrosine.
Tyrosine is an amino acid. It is important for brain function and thyroid hormone production. It is a necessary component for your body to make dopamine, which regulates your brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Dopamine is crucial for memory and motor skills.
Tyrosine is naturally created by your body from a different amino acid called phenylalanine. But you can also get it through your diet…mainly high-protein foods. Cheese is an excellent source.
Another option is to take tyrosine supplements. They have been found to have significant benefits:
- Memory improvement. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience gathered 22 participants. The research team divided the subjects into two groups. One group got a daily tyrosine supplement. The other took a placebo. The tyrosine group’s working memory improved. The placebo group showed no improvement. Working memory involves the ability to concentrate and follow instructions.[i]
- Improved cognitive flexibility. A study from the Institute for Psychological Research in the Netherlands looked at two groups of subjects. One got a tyrosine supplement. The other took a placebo. Both groups took a test to measure “cognitive flexibility.” That’s the ability to quickly switch between mental tasks. The tyrosine subjects had superior cognitive flexibility compared to placebo subjects.[ii]
- Better mental function under stress. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research reviewed the scientific literature on tyrosine. The researchers found that the amino acid seems to “effectively enhance cognitive performance”…especially in “short-term stressful and/or cognitively demanding situations.”[iii]
- Depression relief. A study from France’s Clinic of Biological Psychiatry looked at “dopamine-dependent” depression patients. This means their depression was a result of dopamine deficiency. The patients took 3,200 mg of tyrosine a day. Their mood quickly improved.[iv]
- More alertness. Researchers had subjects stay awake for more than 24 hours for a study published in the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. The scientists gave some of the subjects 150 mg of tyrosine. The rest took a placebo. The tyrosine subjects did better on mental tasks and stayed alert for three hours longer than the placebo subjects.[v]
Tyrosine is considered safe by the FDA.[vi] It’s widely available online and from health food stores.
It can interact with some medications. These include some blood pressure medications and drugs used to treat overactive thyroid and Parkinson’s disease. Consult your doctor before taking tyrosine.
If you’re feeling foggy, give your brain a boost with tyrosine.