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Tyrosine: Uses and Risks

Tyrosine is an amino acid, a substance that helps build proteins in your body. It helps form important brain chemicals that affect mood and sleep.

Why do people take tyrosine?

Tyrosine is a treatment for people with a rare genetic disorder called PKU.

As a supplement, tyrosine may help people who are tired because of lack of sleep, some research suggests. It seems to make them more alert.

Some children and adults take tyrosine for ADHD. But studies have not shown that it helps. Tyrosine supplements don't appear to work for depression, either.

People take tyrosine for other reasons, ranging from easing PMS symptoms to boosting libido. For now, we don't know if tyrosine helps with these conditions.

There's no standard dose for tyrosine. Ask your doctor for advice.

Can you get tyrosine naturally from foods?

Tyrosine is in meats, fish, dairy products, eggs, oats, wheat, beans, and nuts.

What are the risks?

Tell your doctor about any supplements you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications.

Side effects. Tyrosine supplements can cause headache, tiredness, upset stomach, heartburn, and swollen joints.

Risks. Tyrosine may worsen thyroid problems or Graves' disease. There hasn't been enough research yet to know if tyrosine is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using tyrosine supplements. They could interact with medicines for thyroid problems and Parkinson's disease.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on February 06, 2013

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