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Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid that is naturally produced by the body. It is also found in protein-rich foods and certain supplements. The amino acid is supposedly useful for treating conditions such as depression and premenstrual syndrome, although it is not clear how it works to treat these conditions. Although it is a "natural" product, tyrosine can cause side effects, such as nausea, heartburn, and joint pain.

What Is Tyrosine?

Tyrosine (also known as L-tyrosine) is a nonessential amino acid. This means that it does not need to be obtained from dietary sources; the human body can make it using phenylalanine, another amino acid. It is also used in dietary supplements and is claimed to be useful for a variety of different conditions, such as:
  • Depression
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
(Click Tyrosine Benefits for more information, including additional uses.)

How Does Tyrosine Work?

As mentioned, tyrosine is an amino acid that is important for building proteins. For most people, the body can make its own, although it is also found in protein-rich foods. People with phenylketonuria (PKU) must obtain tyrosine through the diet, since they cannot produce it. Even though it is a large amino acid, tyrosine can cross the blood-brain barrier to enter the brain, and may have numerous different effects in the brain. It is not known how tyrosine may work for a variety of different disorders.

Is It Effective?

Tyrosine (as part of a specially designed protein supplement) is effective for people with phenylketonuria, although further supplementation in addition to the protein supplement is usually not recommended. It is not known if it is effective for other uses.
(Click Does Tyrosine Work? for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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