While traditional Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) treatments like Adderall have proven benefits, they also carry risks, driving many to seek alternatives. Enter L-Tyrosine: a promising amino acid believed to enhance cognitive health. But is it the next big thing for ADHD?
Let's dive into the evidence.
Table of Contents
L-Tyrosine may help manage ADHD by boosting brain dopamine.
The effects of L-Tyrosine supplementation can vary among individuals, with some seeing improvements within days and others taking weeks.
L-Tyrosine can interact with certain medications, including MAO inhibitors.
Can ADHD be treated with nootropic L-tyrosine?
Compounds with the ability to regulate neurotransmitter levels in a positive way are often referred to as “nootropics.”
Medications prescribed for ADHD are generally synthetic nootropics, but natural nootropics also exist in supplemental form, which means they are available without a prescription.
However, you should talk to your doctor before attempting to self medicate, and especially before using L-tyrosine for ADHD or related symptoms. You should never discontinue medication without a doctor’s guidance since common ADHD prescriptions may cause symptoms of withdrawal.
What is L-Tyrosine?
L-tyrosine is a form of the amino acid tyrosine. It’s responsible for helping the body to build proteins and produce important enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and even the skin pigmentation melanin. Most significantly, tyrosine is necessary for the production of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine, hormones responsible for stress responses, mood regulation, and more.
Dopamine and norepinephrine are both implicated in ADHD. In fact, both of these neurotransmitters are directly linked to motivation and focus, and low levels may inhibit your ability to concentrate and complete tasks.
L-tyrosine is often described as a non-essential amino acid, a title that can be a bit misleading. This just means that you don’t need to get it from food because your body is able to produce tyrosine from the amino acid phenylalanine.
Of course, natural L-tyrosine levels are dependent on a diet rich in high-quality protein. Some people, however, choose to supplement with L-tyrosine, citing various brain-boosting and mood-balancing effects, including for ADHD.
Luckily, there’s no need to worry about the risks of over-supplementing with L-tyrosine because the body can break down and dispose of excess tyrosine easily. It has far fewer side effects than most prescription medications given for ADHD, which is a reason why L-tyrosine for ADHD is gaining so much traction.
Natural Sources of L-Tyrosine
We mentioned that L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it is naturally produced by the body. More specifically, it is synthesized from phenylalanine. In order to provide the body with what it needs to produce L-Tyrosine, you need to add the following foods to your diet:
- lima beans
- pumpkin seeds
- sesame seeds
L-Tyrosine Nootropic Research
Evidence to help us understand how L-Tyrosine supplementation may improve symptoms of ADHD is limited, but there is good reason to believe that it may positively impact cognitive performance.
The original sentiment behind L-Tyrosine for ADHD stemmed from the belief that children with ADHD had low levels of tyrosine in the brain. While this claim has only been substantiated in half of the research available, there’s definitely some interest surrounding L-Tyrosine’s potential ability to improve cognition, especially in cases of stress.
According to a review of 15 studies, taking tyrosine supplements may improve memory, particularly in challenging situations such as extreme weather or high cognitive load. Another 2015 study also found that tyrosine supplementation could enhance cognitive function in the short term during stressful or demanding circumstances.
Yet another study in 2015 revealed that taking tyrosine supplements may enhance cognitive flexibility in high cognitive demand situations. These studies involved healthy adults, however, and not adults with ADHD.
Is L-tyrosine like Adderall?
No, L-tyrosine is not like Adderall. Adderall is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system in a way that raises dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain to improve focus, memory, and attention.
Tyrosine has a more subtle but sustainable impact. It is a precursor to dopamine, so while it does help your body naturally produce more dopamine, it doesn’t have an immediate, short lived response that stimulates the neural environment as harshly as Adderall does.
In other words, the drug and the supplement have similar effects on the body, but L-Tyrosine is milder and can have compounding effects over time. Adderall, on the other hand, lasts 4-12 hours (depending on if it is extended release) and does not improve the body’s ability to produce dopamine over time, although it can be habit forming when used daily.
Should I Take L-Tyrosine Supplements?
Although your body can naturally make L-tyrosine, many people choose to use supplemental L-tyrosine for ADHD symptoms. Supplemental L-tyrosine is used in studies concerning cognitive health. Using L-tyrosine supplements also gives you greater control over the dosage so that you can more easily tailor your L-tyrosine experience.
How to Use Supplemental L-Tyrosine for ADHD
Before we dive into what you need to know about L-Tyrosine supplement quality, we want to remind you that L-Tyrosine is not FDA approved as a treatment for ADHD. You should talk to your doctor before trying to treat ADHD with nootropic supplements.
Once you get the go ahead, you should also talk with your doctor about choosing a supplement and dosage. The information below is only meant to be used as a guide:
L-Tyrosine Supplement Quality
Choosing a high quality supplement is crucial–especially since supplements are not regulated as well as pharmaceuticals are in the U.S. To find an L-Tyrosine supplement that is safe and effective, look for a supplement that’s made in a cGMP compliant facility, which means that it’s made according to current FDA guidelines.
Determining the right L-Tyrosine dosage for ADHD requires considering factors such as diet, weight, and age. It's advisable to begin with a minimal dose and adjust based on response.
Given that U.S. supplements lack standardized dosages, always check product specifics. While 150 mg daily is a starting point for some, a typical regimen involves 500 mg, divided into three daily doses.
When to Take L-Tyrosine for ADHD
Most sources agree that L-tyrosine is best used in the morning when used as a nootropic. A once daily dose of L-tyrosine may be best for enhancing cognitive function. Like many nootropics, you may experience the best results when taking L-tyrosine daily. It may take up to two weeks to feel the full effects.
L-Tyrosine Side Effects
L-Tyrosine, while beneficial for some, can come with potential side effects. Here's what you need to know:
- Nausea: Some individuals may experience stomach upset or nausea after taking L-Tyrosine, especially on an empty stomach.
- Headache: A common side effect, headaches can occur shortly after taking the supplement.
- Fatigue: While L-Tyrosine is known to boost alertness in some, others might experience fatigue or drowsiness.
- Increased Heart Rate: Some users have reported a faster heart rate or palpitations after consuming L-Tyrosine.
- Insomnia: Taking L-Tyrosine late in the day can lead to difficulties falling asleep for some individuals.
- Elevated Blood Pressure: There's potential for a rise in blood pressure, especially if taken in high doses.
- Anxiety: In rare cases, individuals might experience heightened anxiety or restlessness.
- Overstimulation: Some users might feel jittery or overstimulated, similar to consuming excessive caffeine.
- Digestive Issues: Less commonly, individuals might experience digestive problems like diarrhea or stomach cramps.
It's essential to start with a lower dose and monitor your body's response. If you experience any of these side effects, consider adjusting the dosage or consulting with a healthcare professional. Always prioritize safety and be aware of how your body reacts to supplements.
Does L-tyrosine interact with ADHD medications?
There are no known drug interactions between tyrosine and common ADHD medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall. However, there is no guarantee that the combination is 100% safe. You should always discuss the addition of new supplements with your doctor, especially if you already take prescription medications.
L-Tyrosine offers a natural approach to managing ADHD symptoms. While it's not a replacement for traditional treatments, it can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive ADHD management plan.
As with any supplement, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting L-Tyrosine supplementation. With the right guidance, L-Tyrosine can potentially offer relief and improved quality of life for those living with ADHD.
Consider L-Tyrosine as Part of a Nootropic Stack
L-tyrosine’s cognition enhancing effects are the reason we added it to our nootropic stack–a selection of natural supplements that help to boost brain and body wellness from every angle.
Lucid is a synergistic blend of medicinal mushrooms and nootropics designed to enhance focus and support a healthy brain, but it also does much more. Balancing on powerful therapeutics like Maitake, Lion’s Mane, Alpha-GPC, and more, Lucid beverages target whole-body wellness. Our unique ingredient blend helps to boost immunity, improve physical and mental performance, reduce stress, balance mood, and more.
Read about Why We Chose Our Ingredients to learn more. Or, check out our three flavor varieties: