N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine Review: Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NATL) is a “brain supplement,” and derivative of L-Tyrosine. NATL is more soluble and heat stable than its close relative, and contains acetic acid. Because of this, proponents believe that NATL may be more bioavailable than L-Tyrosine, and absorbed more easily by the body as well. Unfortunately, there’s little scientific evidence to support the assertion that NATL is a more effective alternative to L-Tyrosine, though, the effects of the latter are better documented.

What is N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

Like L-Tyrosine, NATL is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. We can absorb Tyrosine through our diets, in foods like meats, fish, eggs, nuts, etc., but can receive a more potent dose through supplementation. Supplementing with Tyrosine causes it to act as a stimulatory nootropic that boosts cognition and mood while decreasing stress.

People with Tyrosine deficiencies use it to treat the effects of mood disorders (depression), attention disorders (ADD/ADHD), sleep disorders (narcolepsy, sleep deprivation), and neurological disorders (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s). Tyrosine is also said to be somewhat useful for counteracting alcohol/cocaine withdrawal, ED, wrinkles, and a host of other ailments. Many of the claims are anecdotal or supported by only slim evidence. The mood and stress altering properties of Tyrosine, however, show much more consistency across research results.

The common wisdom is that NATL affords all the same benefits as Tyrosine, but is more soluble than normal Tyrosine supplements, allowing the body to break it down in the kidneys and supply a greater amount of the stress relieving amino acid to the body. Studies on this topic are inconclusive, though, with at least one flatly stating: “the usefulness of NAT and NAC as precursors for the corresponding amino acids in humans is not apparent.”

Regardless, NATL, like Tyrosine, is a legal dietary supplement. It is most commonly found in capsule form in varying mg amounts.

Other Names for N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine and NATL might also be referred to by common names like Tirosina, Tyr, and Tyrosinum, or other scientific names such as 2-Acetylamino-3-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)-Propanoic Acid.

Editor’s Note

After reading about some of the supposed benefits, I decided to give it a shot. I wanted to test out two aspects of the supplement: its ability to help with training by improving focus, its ability to enhance mood.

I took a mid-range 1000mg dose about a half hour before my workout to test that first claim. As this was a short-term test, I wasn’t interested in the possible benefits for muscle growth; I was limiting my observations to my focus and intensity during my workout. I didn’t do anything beyond my normal routine, and I didn’t break any of my old records. Still, I felt as if I was able to concentrate on my workout better and complete my routine with greater ease.

This perception falls in line with scientific research on the matter, which has shown that Tyrosine doesn’t actually boost workout performance, but can make you feel like you have more “drive” during your workout. Even a slight edge in how exerted you think you are can have an effect on how much you’re willing to put into a workout, so there may be some promise in that regard.

The next day I decided to take an identical dose to test how it would influence my mood. It was a typical day, with nothing particularly stressful going on, but I did feel a bit sharper once it came time to get to work. I was able to “flow” more easily, but can’t be certain that it was because of the NATL or because I was just on the ball that day. From what I’ve read, researchers have observed cognitive boosts from Tyrosine when placing subjects under particular stressors, but have not, as yet, reproduced these effects on individuals without the stressors present.

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine Reviews

Reactions I’ve seen to NATL have been pretty encouraging. While not everyone was wholly convinced that it was better than simply taking Tyrosine, there seems to be a consensus that it’s at least comparable in its effects.

Athletes continue to swear by it, stating that it’s helping with their workouts and training sessions. A trip to the forums will show that the mood-enhancing qualities are highly respected, in spite of a few drawbacks in the early stages of supplement with Tyrosine regularly.

Benefits and effects

There are a lot of health claims ascribed to NATL and Tyrosine supplementation. Surprisingly, though, there’s only one use for which the amino acid is proven effective for: treatment of Phenylketonuria. The other benefits seem promising but aren’t backed up by enough consistent research.

Treatment Of PKU

Phenylketonuria renders sufferers unable to process phenylalanine (an amino acid used to make tyrosine). This results in abnormally low Tyrosine levels in the body and can also result in brain damage. To counteract this, doctors will normally prescribe protein supplements containing Tyrosine. Physicians do not advise additional Tyrosine supplementation beyond that.

Cognitive Boost

Stress can have significant effects on behavior: depleting it of chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine, reducing effectiveness and focus, etc. One study showed that in stressful situations, specifically exposure to cold and hypoxia, Tyrosine could decrease the negative effects of stress. Subjects in the study did not experience the same levels of negative mood and performance impairment when exposed to extreme environmental conditions.

Researchers aren’t sure if Tyrosine has the same benefit when taken by healthy individuals under normal conditions, but at least one study shows it can counteract performance decline during “extended wakefulness.” Anecdotal evidence also suggests that it can sharpen focus and allow you to work with a greater degree of productivity when taken as a daily supplement. Most users of Tyrosine describe it as a state of heightened awareness and greater access to information stored away in their memory.

Stress Reduction

A study performed on cadets undergoing a military combat training course showed that Tyrosine did more than just improve their cognitive abilities. Tyrosine supplementation reduced the stressful effects of the training course, including systolic blood pressure. These findings fall in line with anecdotal data, in which users report a heightened state of well-being when using Tyrosine. It’s subjective but encouraging.

It is important to note, though, that while Tyrosine does appear to be able to reduce stress and alter mood in certain situations, it does not have the anti-depressant abilities previously theorized. Researchers surmised that because tyrosine helps the body produce dopamine, it might also be able to boost mood in depressed persons. Studies, however, have not shown this to be the case.

Other Benefits

There are other reported benefits associated with NATL/Tyrosine, but these are unsubstantiated. They include treatment of ADD/ADHD, reduction of withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and cocaine, treatment of dementia, weight loss, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ED, heart disease, chronic fatigue, dementia, and schizophrenia.

How It Works

Tyrosine is noted for its ability to pass the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, it acts as a precursor to several neurotransmitters. Specifically, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. In the body, it is the precursor to several hormones, like thyroid hormones and melanin.

Under stress, supplies of norepinephrine diminish, causing decreased performance and mood drops. Tyrosine supplementation counteracts this drop in norepinephrine, allowing you to stay sharp in stressful scenarios. In addition, Tyrosine reduces blood pressure during stressful events, further augmenting its ability to help users cope with stress.

It is not currently known whether the marked effects Tyrosine has on neurotransmitter levels also occurs when the body is not exposed to specific stressors. If they do, then the other effects of abundant levels of adrenaline and dopamine would be the result. Most notably, a pronounced enhancement in mood and reduction of symptoms in those with Parkinson’s disease.

Though Tyrosine is associated with hormone levels and the thyroid gland, it is not believed that supplementing with Tyrosine will directly counteract hypothyroidism or other hormone deficiencies. The complex interactions within the body will require more study to see if there is any potential for use in that regard. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors, though, might play a role in combating thyroid cancer.

Tyrosine supplements go to work between thirty minutes and one hour after ingestion. Athletes will typically take it a half hour before their workout. When supplementing with Tyrosine, you’ll need to take three daily doses (with your meals) to get the full effects.

Dosage

Recommended dosages of L-Tyrosine vary. One estimate suggests 150mg/kg of body weight daily. That means that if you weigh 77kg (about 170 pounds), you would need 11,550mg of Tyrosine. You would divide this into three doses of 3,850mg and take them with your meals.

Other systems advise taking 1,000mg-2,000mg prior to an “acute stressor,” or before a workout session. These doses would not require food and would maximize the cognitive boost and anti-stress properties of the supplement. There may, however, be an increased chance for digestive issues when taking high doses, so splitting them up into two separate doses separated by a half hour is another possibility.

Side Effects

There are relatively few side-effects associated with Tyrosine beyond the possibility for gastrointestinal distress if taken in too high a dose. Certain populations, though, should exercise caution before taking this as a supplement.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid Tyrosine, as there is limited information on how it will affect them.

Those with hyperthyroidism and/or Graves disease should also steer clear. The body could use Tyrosine to make more thyroxine (thyroid hormone), thus exacerbating either condition.

Anyone taking Levodopa for Parkinson’s should limit Tyrosine use, as the L-DOPA could interfere with Tyrosine absorption.

Stacking

There are several ways to increase or complement the effects of Tyrosine.

Tyrosine & Vitamins

Medical research shows that taking Tyrosine along with vitamins B6, B9, and copper, helps the body more easily convert Tyrosine into its derivative neurotransmitters. Standard doses of each are generally effective in achieving this goal: 500mg-2000mg Tyrosine, 100mg B6, 1mg B9, 1mg Copper.

Tyrosine & 5-HTP

5-HTP is another amino-acid derived chemical that, in the brain, is converted to serotonin. Because of this, proponents believe 5-HTP can help with elevating mood, improving sleep, decreasing anxiety, regulating appetite, and numbing pain sensations. Combining it with Tyrosine should augment the stress-reducing aspects while further elevating your mood. 200mg 5-HTP with 500mg Tyrosine is the way to go.

Tyrosine & Noopept

Noopept is one of the most well-known “smart drugs” on the market, with a number of cognitive and mood enhancing benefits. Mixing it with Tyrosine is effective for maximizing the cognitive boost while also benefiting from the calm and stress reduction that Tyrosine provides. Try 400mg of Tyrosine with 20mg of Noopept and see if that complements your daily routine.

Alternatives

Similar or enhanced effects can be gained from other compounds. Be sure to check out these other options:

L-DOPA

Synthetic levodopa is another chemical that the body can use to create dopamine. This allows it to produce similar mood enhancing and stress reducing effects as Tyrosine. Whereas Tyrosine has only supposed benefits for neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, L-DOPA has been more clearly shown to have neuroprotective effects.

  • Converts to dopamine
  • Used for mood enhancement
  • Also has neuroprotective effects

5-HTP

This amino acid can also be used to balance neurotransmitter levels in the body. 5-HTP converts to serotonin, which has an effect on mood. It induces feelings of well-being and happiness, making 5-HTP a suitable substitute or companion to Tyrosine if trying to lower stress and feelings of anxiety.

  • Converts to serotonin
  • Used for mood enhancement
  • Has greater effects on stress and anxiety

Melatonin

If you’re trying out Tyrosine to help you ease into sleep, a good alternative might be melatonin. Use of exogenous melatonin can help control sleep disorders, reduce the effects of jet-lag, and promote more restful sleep. Melatonin also has some success in reducing headaches, fighting cancer, and aiding with certain psychiatric conditions.

  • Can control sleep cycles
  • Very few side-effects
  • Some antioxidant benefits

Closing Thoughts

Though claims about Tyrosine abound, as a cognitive enhancer and stress control supplement there are clear, promising research results. Even if the benefits are only useful when used to combat the effects of specific stressors, it would still be worthwhile to explore using Tyrosine for those instances. If it turns out that researchers can reproduce the beneficial effects in non-specific scenarios, that would be all the more reason to consider Tyrosine as a part of your daily routine. Don’t forget to read up more on this intriguing amino acid here.

Recommended dosages of Tyrosine vary. One estimate suggests 150mg/kg of body weight daily. That means that if you weigh 77kg (about 170 pounds) you would need 11,550mg of Tyrosine.

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