We all need to find ways to relieve stress, whether it’s a sweaty yoga class, a lengthy meditation sesh, a snuggle session with your pet or partner, or a languid drench in the tub. Food can also contribute to how we navigate our moods, and we don’t just mean eating a piece of chocolate when you’re feeling down. While there are many factors that influence how we feel, one powerful amino acid known as L-tyrosine may help increase happiness, improve memory, and manage stress. While some people take supplements, you can get the benefits of this magical molecule through your diet if you know what foods to look for.
What exactly is L-Tyrosine?
L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Nonessential does not imply that we do not require it, but rather that our bodies are capable of producing it on their own.
In the case of L-tyrosine (also known simply as tyrosine), we can make it in small amounts, but it is also frequently consumed in food. In general, amino acids aid in the proper functioning of your body. They benefit your immune system, muscle building, digestion, and other functions.
The Relationship Between L-Tyrosine and Stress
L-primary tyrosine’s function is to aid in the production of a few critical neurotransmitters (also known as brain chemicals), such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. During periods of crisis, our bodies emit these chemicals, which depletes our brains, leaving us feeling low and unable to reply to ongoing stress in a reasonable fashion.
L-tyrosine has primarily been researched in the military, where it has been shown to aid in the reduction of cognitive decline in situations involving intense physical stress, such as a lack of sleep or extreme cold. Primarily, L-tyrosine can help with mental alertness and problem solving during stressful situations. Some preliminary research suggests that L-tyrosine may help with memory and performance when subjected to mental or emotional stress. L-tyrosine can also help you stay awake when you’re running on little sleep.
L-Tyrosine Sources: Food vs. Supplements
The studies used much higher levels of tyrosine than what you can get from food, but that doesn’t mean you have to take supplements. Because our bodies can produce tyrosine and it is also found in many foods, it is unlikely that you would be deficient in tyrosine to the point where it would cause you harm. However, if you want to cope a little better with everyday stressors, you can increase your intake of L-tyrosine through your meals and snacks.
Keep in mind, however, that if your stress levels are high enough that you are considering supplementing with L-tyrosine, you should consult with your doctor to ensure that this is the best option for you and to discuss your other options. Chronic stress is difficult to overcome, so you must devise a deliberate and well-informed plan of action. Supplemental tyrosine may interact with certain Parkinson’s disease medications.
How to Increase Your L-Tyrosine Consumption
While supplementing with L-tyrosine is something you should discuss with your doctor, starting by eating more foods that contain the amino acid is a good place to start for almost everyone.
Want to improve your stress management with L-tyrosine but don’t know where to begin? L-tyrosine can be found in dairy products (especially cheese), meats, fish, and eggs. Plant-based eaters can get tyrosine from nuts, beans, oats, wheat, and soy proteins like tofu and tempeh. The good news is that foods high in L-tyrosine are also part of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet that can make you feel happier and healthier for a variety of reasons, including taste.