Despite the reliance of Nootropic enthusiasts on new synthetic research chemicals, often the most profound cognitive enhancing drugs are none other than amino acids, like L-Tyrosine.
L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, which is important for the function of numerous cognitive features. L-Tyrosine is most often used as a reliable dopamine precursor in addition to other brain chemicals like epinephrine and adrenaline.
By modulating these brain chemicals, tyrosine improves memory formation and cognitive performance. It is also implicated in supporting cognitive health even during stressful situations. Besides these many benefits, L-Tyrosine is considered a great mood enhancer and is considered safe.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a form of the amino acid L-Tyrosine. The addition of an acetyl group to L-Tyrosine makes it more bioavailable than supplementing with L-Tyrosine.
Your brain converts L-Tyrosine to L-DOPA which then produces the neurotransmitter Dopamine. The unused Dopamine is then further converted into the neurotransmitters norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline). This triad of neurotransmitters are collectively referred to as “catecholamines”.
“Tyrosine” is derived from the Greek word tyros, meaning cheese. It was first discovered by German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1846 in the protein casein from cheese.
Tyrosine is considered a non-essential amino acid because it can be synthesized in your body from Phenylalanine. Which is found in many high-protein foods such as poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, soy products, lima beans, avocados and bananas.
NALT enhances working memory and executive function in the prefrontal cortex. It helps with creative flow states, is fuel for inspiration, cognitive flexibility, and the kind of “convergent thinking” you do in multiple choice exams.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine assists in the production of thyroid hormones T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine) which are crucial in maintaining both overall physical and cognitive health.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is the amino acid L-Tyrosine with an acetyl group added. When you take NALT as a supplement, it breaks down in your kidneys back into L-Tyrosine. So in theory, the two supplements offer the same benefits.
There is some debate in the nootropics community on which is more effective. NALT or plain L-Tyrosine. NALT is a more soluble form of L-Tyrosine so it should be more bioavailable to your body.
However, some studies report that in some cases, a sizeable percentage of supplemental NALT is excreted in urine before it’s converted into L-Tyrosine.
On a personal note, I haven’t had any issues using NALT as a source of L-Tyrosine. It gives me a dopamine and adrenal boost you’d expect from supplementing with a dopamine precursor.
When dealing with ADHD/ADD it’s particularly effective when stacked with ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine). ALCAR easily crosses the blood-brain barrier for boosting acetylcholine levels. And seems to positively influence serotonin levels. And NALT provides my brain with the dopamine it needs to mitigate symptoms of ADHD/ADD.
But in the interests of full transparency, this is stacked with 20 mg of Ritalin twice a day. Clearly, this brain doesn’t have the capacity to produce enough dopamine on its own. And needs the boost that comes from supplementing with NALT.
So like all Nootropics always take into account how each Nootropic works synergistically with others in your stack. And how they work with any meds you need to take.
This is as much art as it is science. And experimentation is key for optimal cognition, and a ‘Limitless’ mindset.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.
1. Acute stress is defined as short-term stressors that can affect cognition. Examples are extreme heat or cold. Things like cold showers, extreme sports, car accidents, relationship problems, intense movies, business deals gone awry, exams and war zones.
In one study done at the University of Bedfordshire in the UK, the effect of L-Tyrosine on cognitive performance was measured before an exercise task.
Researchers recruited 8 soccer players. And had them complete a 90-minute soccer simulation performance test in an environmental chamber set at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The soccer players were given either L-Tyrosine before exercise or a placebo. Cognitive performance was measured before the exercise task. Then again at “half-time”, following half time, and following the entire simulation.
The cognitive performance task assessed dual-task and vigilance. The outcome revealed that cognitive vigilance and reaction time among soccer players significantly improved following administration of L-Tyrosine.
Results showed that in warm-weather conditions, L-Tyrosine could enhance cognitive function and prevent cognitive impairment during exposure to exercise-heat stress.
2. NALT turns into L-Tyrosine once taken as a supplement. It then converts into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is used to control movement in your body, is fundamental to memory, attention and problem solving.
The unused Dopamine can then convert into the neurotransmitters Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline) and Epinephrine (Adrenaline).
Norepinephrine is important for attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, dreaming and learning.
Epinephrine drives your ‘flight-or-flight’ response. It’s what prompts your reaction to dangerous circumstances, emergency situations, or in stressful situations or environments.
In one study done in the Netherlands, researchers determined if L-Tyrosine would boost cognitive resources associated with cognitive control. They performed tests designed to measure “working memory” using the N-Back Test.
Study participants were assigned to engage in a “1-back” condition of easy difficulty and then a 2-back condition of tougher difficulty. Those that used L-Tyrosine demonstrated superior performance in the 2-back test, but not the 1-back test.
The study authors suggested that L-Tyrosine provides greater cognitive enhancement when cognitive demand increases. The bottom-line; supplementation of L-Tyrosine may help you increase your IQ score due to maximizing catecholamine reserves.
As we get older, our brain and body chemistry and energy metabolism changes.
↓ Dopaminergic neurons are damaged or die
↓ Working memory and mood decline
All of these changes are often attributed to aging. But could be a result of dietary and lifestyle choices. Unchecked, they could lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, a drop in quality of life and depression.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) can boost levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. And can help a sluggish thyroid produce more T4 and T3.NALT can help boost cognition especially in stressful situations. It helps improve decision making, ‘flow state’ and creativity, cognitive flexibility, and working memory.
NALT converts into L-Tyrosine which then converts into L-DOPA to produce dopamine. L-DOPA is also used to make melanin in your body. This conversion process helps in the removal of neurotoxic quinones. And chelates heavy metals like mercury and lead which can accumulate in and damage neurons.
The Dopamine that is not used by your brain is available to produce Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline) which is important for attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, dreaming and learning.
NALT can be an effective nootropic when stacked with ADHD/ADD meds like Ritalin or Adderall. It helps supply extracellular dopamine needed to improve the effectiveness of stimulants used to boost the uptake of dopamine in your brain.
Keep in mind that NALT is a precursor to catecholamines. So if you’re not ‘low’ on Dopamine, Norepinephrine or Epinephrine – you may not ‘feel’ anything.
Ensure you read labels carefully, and stick with manufacturers who follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). And are GMP-Certified.
You can safely use up to 1,500 mg per day when stacking with ADHD meds. But dosed throughout your day.
Anecdotally, L-Tyrosine tends to be taken in doses of 500-2000mg approximately 30-60 minutes before any acute stressor (such as exercise)
Studies in humans showing most anti-stress promise for acute supplemental L-Tyrosine use a dosage range of 100-150mg/kg bodyweight which can be taken 60 minutes before exercise; this is a dosage range of 9-13.5g for a 200lb person and 7-10g for a 150lb person. If using higher doses and finding digestive issues, this may be split into two doses separated by half an hour (30 and 60 minutes prior to acute stress).