Everything You Need to Know About L-Tyrosine Supplements; Is it Natural Adderall?
What do l-tyrosine (a naturally occurring amino acid) and Adderall (a pharmaceutical stimulant originally prescribed to manage ADHD and narcolepsy) have in common?
According to TikTok, the two may offer similar short-term effects, but in terms of science and *ahem* reality—they really don’t have much in common.
Most health-minded people (shout out to our regular readers) know to, at the very least, do some research whenever they hear medical, health, or fitness tips on social media. However, with the appeal of “challenges” and how some influencers present the information, it can be difficult to weed through what’s fact and what is fiction.
Since more people than ever are interested in l-tyrosine supplements, let’s talk in detail about what this health supplement can do for you—and what it can’t.
What is L-Tyrosine?
Tyrosine is an amino acid. The “L” in l-tyrosine is one form of the same substance, but you may see l-tyrosine supplements with or without the L.
You know amino acids as the “building blocks of proteins,” as we so lovingly call them. Proteins are vitally important to our bodies, and as fitness folks, we tend to place emphasis on these proteins comprised of amino acids.
There are 3 kinds of amino acids:
- Essential Amino Acids: those that the body cannot produce on its own and thus needs to get from food
- Nonessential Amino Acids: those that the body can produce on its own
- Conditionally Essential Amino Acids: those that the body can typically produce on its own but may need help from foods under certain conditions like illness or injury
Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid. The body produces enough tyrosine on its own from phenylalanine, another amino acid. Tyrosine is particularly abundant in human tissues and most fluids—it plays a vital role in the following body processes:
- synthesizing proteins
- creating enzymes
- regulating thyroid hormones
- managing melanin
- producing neurotransmitters, particularly epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine
Natural Sources of Tyrosine
As previously noted, the body makes tyrosine from another amino acid. If the level in your body drops, it quickly produces more. If you have too much in your body, it gets broken down and removed.
In addition to being naturally produced, many foods contain it as well. Foods like:
- pumpkin seeds
The wide availability combined with the body’s natural abilities means that most people are not in short supply of l-tyrosine. So, why would anyone want to take an l-tyrosine supplement? *Hint* “TikTok made me do it” is not an acceptable answer.
What are the Benefits of L-Tyrosine Supplements?
As with many isolated vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, there are some scientific benefits to taking an l-tyrosine supplement.
Some of the most well-documented benefits are:
- improved mental function while under stress
- resilience to sleep deprivation
Several studies have been able to show (and duplicate) that in stressful situations, l-tyrosine supplements significantly improved working memory, concentration, ability to follow directions, and cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch tasks or thoughts).
Studies also show that a single dose of an l-tyrosine supplement benefits a person who has failed to get enough sleep. So, the benefits are cognitive and short-term. They seem only to apply when the user is under stress or sleep deprived. Unlike the reason for most amino acid supplementation, l-tyrosine supplements don’t improve physical performance or health.
It’s worth noting here that many articles (and TikTok-ers) mention that tyrosine may help lessen depression symptoms. However, while sound in theory (depression is thought to be a chemical imbalance specifically with neurotransmitters) since tyrosine plays a role in neurotransmitter production, early research doesn’t support this claim.
Are L-Tyrosine Supplements Safe?
L-tyrosine supplements are generally regarded as safe in doses of 150mg per kg of body weight, per day, for up to three months. However, long-term safety is not known beyond those initial three months.
People should be aware of some known medication interactions when considering adding an l-tyrosine supplement to their daily routine.
These people include:
- Those who use MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
- Those who use thyroid medications or have hyperthyroidism
- Those using L-dopa (levodopa)
L-Tyrosine Supplements and Adderall; Why the Comparison?
Scientists and health experts are ticked about the TikTok comparison of l-tyrosine supplements being a “natural Adderall,” mainly because there is strikingly little chemical resemblance.
However, if you know a little about Adderall and why people (prescribed or not) use it, you might understand why TikTok makes the connection.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription drug containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These are stimulants that work with the central nervous system to alter the chemicals in the brain and nerves responsible for impulse control and hyperactivity.
Adderall is typically prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sometimes narcolepsy.
What is ADHD?
ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a medical condition requiring a diagnosis. It is a condition that many people use to describe their inability to concentrate or their hyperactivity, even if they haven’t been formally diagnosed. Still, these are not one and the same—there is a difference between hyper and ADHD, and again, the latter requires a diagnosis.
There are three types: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined. ADHD, depending on the type, is characterized by:
- lack of detail orientation
- difficulty focusing and staying on task
- failure to follow through on tasks
- difficulty organizing
- easily distractable
- difficulties with impulse control
- interrupting and intruding
ADHD affects many children and adults and is diagnosed through information gathering and medical evaluations to rule out other potential medical conditions that could be contributing. There is no known direct cause of ADHD and no cure. Symptoms are often managed with medication, psychotherapy, medical devices, or some combination of these methods.
One of the commonly prescribed medications used to manage ADHD symptoms is Adderall. The ADHD brain is wired differently than the neurotypical brain. When Adderall is used as prescribed, it can help a person with ADHD improve their hyperactivity, impulse control, and attention span.
However, in those who are neurotypical and do not have ADHD, Adderall floods the brain with dopamine and has the following effects:
- increased energy levels
- feeling of euphoria
- increased focus
These effects are perhaps why people have misused the drug, especially stressed out, overworked college students. But make no mistake, Adderall is a highly addictive stimulant, and using it without a prescription is illegal and dangerous.
Is Adderall Safe?
Adderall is effective in managing symptoms for individuals with the above-noted conditions. Still, as with most prescription drugs, it does carry risks like dependency and adverse side effects, even in those who use the drug properly.
If you have ADHD, you should discuss the benefits and the risks of using Adderall with a trusted medical professional.
If you do not have one of the conditions listed above, the answer is no, Adderall is not safe to use recreationally. It has been compared to meth because the two are chemical cousins, and both are highly addictive stimulants.
Misuse of Adderall can lead to:
- heart palpitations
- increased blood pressure
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
Prolonged use is likely to lead to a physical dependency in which the user’s body can no longer function normally without the drug.
Withdrawal from Adderall dependency will include:
- increased appetite
- thoughts of suicide
Essentially, l-tyrosine supplements have been called “natural Adderall” simply because using l-tyrosine supplements as directed can lead to better mental function under stress and some resilience to sleep deprivation if you were up late studying one night. We can only assume that the comparison is due to Adderall’s infamous keep-you-up-all-night-without-dying effect when the drug is misused. But, by now, you see there’s not much more to compare beyond that.
However, while the TikTok comparison doesn’t hold up (shocker, we know), if you’re debating between the illegal misuse of Adderall and using l-tyrosine supplements, please, please go with the natural supplement.
Can L-Tyrosine Supplements Treat ADHD?
Now, if we’re talking about using l-tyrosine supplements instead of Adderall as a natural treatment for ADHD symptoms, the answer is a “probably not.”
We totally understand and support looking for natural ways to treat your conditions. The link to l-tyrosine supplements actually replacing Adderall likely comes from a little study done in 1987 where twelve adults with ADHD saw an improvement in symptoms for the first two weeks of using l-tyrosine.
However, by the sixth week, the adults developed a tolerance, and the supplements no longer helped. The study itself concluded that l-tyrosine supplements are not an effective treatment for ADHD symptoms in adults.
Is it Safe to Take L-Tyrosine Supplements with Adderall?
For those already safely and effectively using Adderall to treat your ADHD symptoms, you might be wondering if you can use l-tyrosine safely in addition to your prescription.
While Adderall has a lengthy list of drugs that interact with it, l-tyrosine supplements have none beyond those mentioned above (MAOIs, thyroid medications, and L-dopa). As we mentioned before, these supplements are generally regarded as safe—but not researched beyond three months of use.
We cannot give medical advice about whether it’s safe for you to take l-tyrosine supplements with your current prescription medications, so you should always discuss them with your primary care physician.
Should I take L-Tyrosine Supplements?
With the addition of any supplement to your daily routine, you should ask yourself why you are considering using it. Seeing others try and rave about supplements is a great way to gain insight and do some of your own research, but it should never be the deciding factor in putting something in your body.
When you consider adding L-tyrosine (or any supplement), ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to take this supplement?
- Does research support the use of this supplement for my goal?
- Do I already consume enough of this substance through my diet?
- Can I get the effects through food alone?
- What is the effective dosage to get my desired effects?
- How long is it safe to use this supplement?
- What are the risks?
Once you have the answer to these questions and feel confident in your decision to use this supplement, you should find a reputable supplement brand and then follow the directions closely.
Specifically for l-tyrosine, it’s a supplement you may want to keep on hand if you’re a parent of children who don’t regularly sleep through the night or a stressed-out student who needs to pull the occasional all-nighter. The science shows that this supplement can be helpful in these events. However, there’s probably not much benefit to using the supplement daily, and it’s not proven safe nor effective for long-term use. Also, remember if the body detects too much tyrosine, it simply breaks it down and removes it—talk about wasted money.
Supplements “Like” Adderall
Without encouraging the illegal use of prescription drugs, we do understand the appeal of finding a “natural” supplement that can make you feel more energized and focused. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might be better off further researching the following supplements (or supplements that include these ingredients) instead of l-tyrosine:
- a vitamin B complex
- ginkgo biloba
Personally, our best-selling nootropic supplement is Mane Brain by Magnum. This powerful supplement contains lion’s mane, n-acetyl, l-tyrosine, alpha-GPC, bacopa monnieri, l-theanine, and huperzine serrata.
This combination in effective doses helps to:
- promote memory and brain function
- increase energy and focus
- reduce anxiety
This supplement provides both short- and long-term benefits, has rave reviews, and is backed by Magnum Nutraceutical’s guaranteed results.
TikTok and other social media platforms are great for entertainment and connection but not great for medical advice. So, while some people certainly might have the knowledge, education, or even their own positive results to share, you should never take a supplement without doing a little digging of your own, and please—no more referring to l-tyrosine supplements as the “natural Adderall,” because it’s just not.