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Nacetyl l - tyrosine (NACETYL TY) is a precursor of dopamine, making it an invaluable supplement for boosting the production of this neurotransmitter. NACET

The Dopamine Precursor And More

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What Is This Supplement “NALT”?

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is a form of tyrosine, an amino acid that the body uses to build other things. What other things, you ask?

Well, like most amino acids, it can be used to make proteins. But most importantly and excitingly, the body uses it to make a collection of neurotransmitters—including dopamine and norepinephrine!

  • Dopamine you’ll probably remember as “the reward chemical” or perhaps “the motivation molecule”
  • Norepinephrine, also called noradrenaline, is what powers us up when we need a burst of energy.

Both of these things tend to get depleted under stressful conditions, and sometimes the body can need a bit of help replenishing them.

What does the science say?

This is Research Review Monday, after all, so let’s review some research! We’re going to dive into what we think is a very illustrative study:

A 2015 team of researchers wanted to know whether tyrosine (in the form of NALT) could be used as a cognitive enhancer to give a boost in adverse situations (times of stress, for example).

They noted:

❝The potential of using tyrosine supplementation to treat clinical disorders seems limited and its benefits are likely determined by the presence and extent of impaired neurotransmitter function and synthesis.❞

More on this later, but first, the positive that they also found:

❝In contrast, tyrosine does seem to effectively enhance cognitive performance, particularly in short-term stressful and/or cognitively demanding situations. We conclude that tyrosine is an effective enhancer of cognition, but only when neurotransmitter function is intact and dopamine and/or norepinephrine is temporarily depleted❞

That “but only”, is actually good too, by the way!

You do not want too much dopamine (that could cause addiction and/or psychosis) or too much norepinephrine (that could cause hypertension and/or heart attacks). You want just the right amount!

So it’s good that NALT says “hey, if you need some more, it’s here, if not, no worries, I’m not going to overload you with this”.

Read the study: Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands

About that limitation…

Remember they said that it seemed unlikely to help in treating clinical disorders with impaired neurotransmitter function and/or synthesis?

Imagine that you employ a chef in a restaurant, and they can’t keep up with the demand, and consequently some of the diners aren’t getting fed. Can you fix this by supplying the chef with more ingredients?

Well, yes, if and only if the problem is “the chef wasn’t given enough ingredients”. If the problem is that the oven (or the chef’s wrist) is broken, more ingredients aren’t going to help at all—something different is needed in those cases.

So it is with, for example, many cases of depression.

See for example: Tyrosine for depression: a double-blind trial

About blood pressure…

You may be wondering, “if NALT is a precursor of norepinephrine, a vasoconstrictor, will this increase my blood pressure adversely?”

Well, check with your doctor as your own situation may vary, but under normal circumstances, no. The effect of NALT is adaptogenic, meaning that it can help keep its relevant neurotransmitters at healthy levels—not too low or high.

See what we mean, for example in this study where it actually helped keep blood pressure down while improving cognitive performance under stress:

Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress

Bottom line:

For most people, NALT is a safe and helpful way to help keep healthy levels of dopamine and norepinephrine during times of stress, giving cognitive benefits along the way.

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