Tyrosine is an amino acid that the body makes from a different amino acid called phenylalanine. As the body can naturally produce tyrosine, it is a nonessential amino acid.
People with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) have a high risk of tyrosine deficiency because the body does not convert phenylalanine to tyrosine.
Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid. The term nonessential means that a person does not need to get it through the diet, not that it is unimportant to health. The body can manufacture tyrosine naturally when a person gets sufficient quantities of the amino acid phenylalanine.
The disease PKU, which is present at birth, causes a dangerous buildup of phenylalanine.
Children and adults with this disorder should limit their intake of foods containing phenylalanine. This puts them at risk of tyrosine deficiency because the body does not convert phenylalanine to tyrosine.
Tyrosine helps the body make several important neurotransmitters, including those below. These chemicals help carry nerve signals across a synapse, playing a vital role in many important functions.
- Epinephrine: Also known as adrenaline, this chemical plays a critical role in the fight-or-flight response.
- Norepinephrine: The body releases this chemical along with epinephrine to increase heart rate and support the fight-or-flight response. It also provides energy by breaking down fat and increasing blood sugar.
- Dopamine: This neurotransmitter helps support feelings of pleasure, reward, and motivation. Its absence may contribute toTrusted Source sexual dysfunction, depression, addiction, and attention.
When the body cannot produce these neurotransmitters in sufficient quantities, a person may experience concentration issues, mood changes, and difficulty managing stress.
Some research also suggests that tyrosine supplements may offer health benefits.