L-Tyrosine and How it Benefits Thyroid & Adrenal Function: Should you Use it?

You may have heard that using L-tyrosine can potentially help improve your energy levels, help with weight loss, improve your thyroid or even reduce your stress response. 

But are any of these claims true?

In order to have a discussion about these topics we really need to first talk about the basics of tyrosine. 

In this post, you will learn why tyrosine is so important for hormone function in your body, why some people may benefit from supplementation and how to best supplement with this protein...

More...

What is L-Tyrosine? (And Does Supplementing Work?)

Tyrosine is a protein in your body that acts as a precursor for MANY, and very important, hormones. 

Your body takes Tyrosine (the amino acid) and alters its chemical structure to turn it into these various hormones. 

These hormones then circulate through your body and make the changes necessary for you to live a happy life. 

metabolism of l tyrosine into thyroid and adrenal hormones

What type of hormones am I talking about?

From tyrosine your body creates the following hormones:

  • Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine (thyroid hormones)
  • Epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenal hormones)
  • Melanin (for skin pigmentation)

So, what is L-tyrosine?

L-tyrosine is a synthetic version of the amino acid Tyrosine that can be taken orally as a nutritional supplement

The idea behind supplementing with L-tyrosine is to potentially improve the function of Tyrosine in your body to help create more of the active hormones we just discussed (thyroid and adrenal hormones). 

This is nice in theory, but does it actually work?

That answer is somewhat more complex than just a yes or no, but the general answer is maybe. 

When you are supplementing, with any nutrient, the goal is to help provide your body with nutrients that you may not be getting through diet or due to disordered metabolism. 

And this is true for Tyrosine as well. 

You may benefit from supplementing with L-tyrosine if you are...

#1. Not getting enough of this protein from your diet.

This one is pretty straightforward. 

Tyrosine is considered a non-essential amino acid (1) because your body produces it from phenylalanine (another amino acid). 

If you don't consume enough high-quality protein then it's possible that your body won't be able to produce enough naturally through this substrate. 

If you fall into this category then supplementing with Tyrosine may provide your body with the nutrient that you need and you may experience an improvement in your symptoms. 

It's not hard to think of ways that you may be deficient in certain nutrients and vitamins when you consider that most people consume highly processed and refined foods as part of their daily diet. 

But this isn't the only way you can potentially benefit from tyrosine supplementation...

#2. Your body does better with higher than normal doses of tyrosine.

Some individuals, despite having normal levels of nutrients, do better with higher than normal doses of vitamins and nutrients. 

This is referred to as supraphysiologic dosing and is a concept that is well known with vitamins such as B12, B6 and folic acid (2).

Some conditions, including how quickly your body breaks down and metabolizes vitamins, may impact how much you need to take on a daily basis. 

This shouldn't come as a surprise when you realize that each of us is different and unique. 

For some people, this value may be higher than normal which means they need a higher than "standard" dose. 

The bottom line?

Using Tyrosine may be helpful even if you have "normal" levels in your diet. 

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L-Tyrosine & Thyroid Hormone

One of the biggest questions people have when it comes to L-tyrosine supplementation is whether or not it will help with their thyroid. 

Currently, up to 10% of the population may have a thyroid related problem (3).

And that's a TON of people (up to 35 million in the U.S.). 

Wouldn't it be nice if taking Tyrosine could improve your thyroid?

Well, it may potentially, but you need to realize that not many studies have shown that it is effective. 

Having said that, many patients and doctors, have seen improvement in thyroid function as patients take these supplements. 

So let's talk about why this may be...

We already said that tyrosine forms the backbone of many hormones and this is also true of thyroid hormone. 

Your body takes Tyrosine and, with the help of iodine, turns it into Thyroxine

If you aren't familiar with Thyroxine then you can read more about it here, but just realize that thyroxine is another name for T4 which is the most abundant thyroid hormone in your body. 

Your body can then take T4 and convert it into triiodothyronine or T3 (the active thyroid hormone). 

This entire process starts with both tyrosine and iodine and both of these nutrients are critical for the creation of thyroid hormone. 

Deficiencies in one, or both, can result in disordered thyroid hormone production and metabolism. 

Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which your body can produce from other amino acids, but iodine MUST be consumed through your diet (4).

Because the consumption of sea vegetables such as kelp and seaweed, as well as the preference over non-iodized salt, iodine deficiency is becoming more and more common. 

This is important because it may not be wise to supplement with tyrosine unless it is also accompanied with iodine (or unless you know that your iodine level is "optimal" first). 

It has also been shown that people who have thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, have irregular serum levels of tyrosine (5).

Those who have hyperthyroidism tend to have higher levels of tyrosine in their blood, and this level can increase dramatically after supplementation

While those with hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), tend to have lower than normal levels of tyrosine in their blood. 

When you combine this with the fact that using Thyroxine medication (such as Levothyroxine) has been shown to enhance tyrosine metabolism in the liver (6), it may be a good idea to supplement with BOTH thyroid medication AND tyrosine (either from the diet or through supplements). 

This doesn't mean that using L-tyrosine will necessarily improve your thyroid function, but it's certainly worth considering if you have thyroid problems. 

L-Tyrosine & Your Adrenal Gland

While L-tyrosine hasn't been well studied in the thyroid arena, it has been studied in the stress arena. 

There are several studies which show that using L-tyrosine may actually help reduce the negative consequences of stress on the body. 

We can attempt to figure out why this happens through some basic physiology...

We know that Tyrosine forms the backbone for the adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. 

These hormones are secreted when your body is under perceived stress and mediated, in part, through the hormone cortisol

The more stress that you are under the more your body will produce these hormones. 

This may lead to a situation in which your body becomes "depleted" of the precursors required to create these hormones (7).

When this happens you may start to experience the symptoms of adrenal fatigue such as extreme fatigue, the sensation of feeling wired but tired, weight gain and sleep problems. 

The idea behind using L-tyrosine, in this situation, is that you are providing your body with the necessary building blocks to produce more of these hormones which may "increase" your stress resilience. 

And the benefits of L-tyrosine supplementation in these situations extend beyond just your adrenal health. 

Studies have shown that using L-tyrosine may improve your cognition (8) (reduce brain fog) and help reduce the symptoms of depression as well. 

We also know that both your thyroid gland and adrenal gland interact with one another. 

As one system starts to fade or become dysregulated, it can bring the other system down as well. 

This may be another reason why, if you have thyroid problems, supplementing with L-tyrosine may help. 

Should you Take L-Tyrosine?

With all of these benefits, it may be tempting to run out and purchase L-tyrosine from the grocery store. 

Don't do that... at least not yet. 

Why?

Because, whenever you consider using a supplement, you need to make sure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks. 

When it comes to L-tyrosine supplementation the risk of using this supplement is very low. 

Doses as high as 20 grams per day have been given to people in the military without negative consequences. 

And most supplements have doses in the milligram range (not the gram range). 

So with very few risks, it may be worth a trial, especially if you have thyroid disease or adrenal related problems. 

There are other groups of people who may potentially benefit from using L-tyrosine as well: 

How Much L-Tyrosine Should you Take?

Once you determine if you want to use L-tyrosine the next question you should have has to do with your dose. 

How much should you take?

We know that extremely high doses probably won't cause any negative side effects, but does that mean you have to take that much?

Not really. 

You'll want to provide your body with the minimum amount necessary to provide a positive outcome while reducing the chance that you'll experience negative symptoms. 

This range is usually somewhere between 150 to 500mg per day of L-Tyrosine

But beyond the amount that you take, you should also consider taking L-tyrosine with other supplements. 

Why?

Because if you have a deficiency in this amino acid then you probably have deficiencies in other nutrients and you may also benefit from other targeted supplementation. 

You will get the biggest bang for your buck (both in terms of cost and benefits) if you take L-tyrosine along with other supplements designed to improve both your thyroid and your adrenals. 

I've included a brief list of additional supplements that can and should be considered when you are using L-tyrosine.

Supplements to take with L-tyrosine for Adrenal health include:

  • Adrenal Adaptogens - Adaptogens can further help regulate cortisol levels and manage your stress. These pair perfectly with tyrosine and are particularly helpful in both thyroid disease and adrenal disease. 
  • Adrenal Glandulars - Glandulars can also be used to treat adrenal fatigue and tend to work well in certain individuals. 
  • Activated B Vitamins - B vitamins, as long as they are pre-methylated, can be safely used with MTHFR genetic problems and have been shown to help improve your stress response. 
  • Vitamin C - Vitamin C is another important cofactor in the production of adrenal hormones and it is highly concentrated in your adrenal glands (12).

Supplements to take with L-tyrosine for thyroid health:

  • Guggul Extract - Guggul may help improve T4 to T3 conversion and improve free thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroidism. There are few studies in humans but animal studies have been promising. 
  • Zinc - Zinc supplementation can help improve T4 to T3 conversion in hypothyroid patients who are also deficient. 
  • Selenium - Selenium has shown benefit in helping reduce thyroid antibodies and is also involved in T4 to T3 conversion. 
  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which is required in optimal amounts for thyroid hormone cellular sensitivity. 
  • Adrenal Adaptogens - See above (they can help both thyroid and adrenal health). 

Will L-Tyrosine Help with Weight Loss?

Theoretically, it may be possible for L-tyrosine to help with weight loss, but I would not recommend using it for that purpose. 

The idea behind weight loss may be coupled with the idea that taking tyrosine can potentially improve thyroid function.

Thyroid hormone helps regulate your metabolism, so if you can improve thyroid hormone then you may be able to "boost" your metabolism. 

In addition, it is known that high cortisol and stress may also lead directly to weight gain. 

Taking tyrosine may theoretically help reduce the stress response, normalize cortisol and therefore lead to weight loss. 

These ideas work in theory but in practice, they don't quite work out as you would think

While it is true that some people do experience weight loss when using tyrosine, the amount of weight that they lose is usually minimal. 

If you lose any weight, you may only lose a few pounds as you regulate some of the hormones discussed here. 

You are much better off focusing on other supplements and conditions in your body if weight loss is your primary goal

Tyrosine supplementation will work better as part of an overall weight loss plan, but not as a primary weight loss supplement. 

Conclusion

L-tyrosine is an important protein in your body because it is the precursor to both thyroid hormone and adrenal hormones. 

A deficiency in tyrosine may result in abnormal production of these hormones and therefore symptoms. 

It may be possible to take L-tyrosine as a nutritional supplement to help your body increase these levels and provide you with some relief. 

Supplementation appears to be quite safe, but make sure to supplement with other vitamins and nutrients for the best results!

Now I want to hear from you: 

Have you tried taking L-tyrosine before?

Did it help you with your thyroid function or adrenal function?

Did you notice an improvement in other areas?

Why or why not?

Leave your comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders.He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances.You can read more about his own personal journey here.

20 thoughts on “L-Tyrosine and How it Benefits Thyroid & Adrenal Function: Should you Use it?”

  1. I took Terry, Naturally L-Tyrosine and an Iodine supplement. Immediately after one eye became larger and more pronounced than the other. I stopped the supplement. Sea Kelp does the same thing. I was told by a Naturopath the only supplement to take is powder form Kyo Green. I haven’t tried it. I have many of the symptoms for T3 supplementing and want to join your program there was a 97.00 offer but I cannot find it.

  2. I am currently taking NP thyroid and I had my thyroid removed in November of 2015 due to cancer. Is this something I should consider taking? I dont know if its related by I have had white areas of skin over my joints all my life. I wonder if that lack of melanin in my skin is related to a lack of L-tyrosine. Just an interesting thought. Thank you.

    • Hi Robin,

      It can potentially help the conversion process and your thyroid. In regards to your white spots, you should look to see if you have the autoimmune condition vitiligo.

  3. I have Hashimoto’s and am on Synthroid and Liothyronine. I had everything tested and my TSH was 3and my L-Tyrosine level was very low so I began supplementing, figuring it might help with some fatigue in the evenings. After taking the L-Tyrosine, I started feeling tired in the afternoons. I later switched brands and still felt tired. I had my TSH retested after a couple of months and it was up to 8. Since L-Tyrosine was the only new supplement I was taking, I stopped taking it and the afternoon fatigue stopped and I just had my TSH retested and it was 1 with T3 and T4 levels normal.
    Is it possible the L-Tyrosine was causing my fatigue and TSH level to go up? Should I try supplementing again?

    • Hi Jeff,

      It’s certainly possible but I wouldn’t say it’s very likely. I would also take a look at the supplement you purchased to determine if it was of sufficient quality. Sometimes, using low-quality supplements with fillers/binders/dyes/etc. can impact how you react to them. Having said that though, I probably wouldn’t use L-tyrosine if you don’t have any symptoms.

  4. I thought you (and your readers) might be interested to learn that Genova Diagnostics offers a test that provides an amino acid profile. I was surprised to see my 16 year old daughter’s results indicating a LOW tyrosine level. I wondered ‘Why would a non-essential amino acid be low’?! Her mainstream thyroid labs are unremarkable -except low T3. Nothing alarming (yet). So we started a supplement regimen of iodine and L-tyrosine. I’m optimistic we are on the right track!! I hope I’ll be able to share her improved lab values and her success SOON!!

    • Hi Sharlene,

      The main problem with these tests is that the results do not necessarily correlate with clinical symptoms and we aren’t sure what a particular result means. For instance, if your tyrosine is “low” in the serum that doesn’t necessarily mean it is low in your cells. Furthermore, just because tyrosine is low does not mean that it can be solved with supplementation. For these reasons and many more, I don’t recommend the use of those tests. They may make the patient feel better about treatment options, but their clinical significance is not well established.

  5. Dr. Westin, An Integrative physician wrote this and it appears to say there are more risks than benefits to taking tyrosine with hypothyroidism. Your response? Thank you.

    “Just like iodine, tyrosine is an integral part of thyroid hormone production but supplementing with it has the potential to suppress thyroid activity. In fact, there’s not a single study out there that shows the ability of tyrosine to increase thyroid hormones, even when they’re low.

    The problem is that tyrosine will increase adrenal hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine which will create a “wired feeling,” a high, brain foggy, I’m flying feeling, and this is one of the worst problems that you can do for a patient with hypothyroidism or an autoimmune thyroid. It is creating an active stress response by over-stimulating the adrenal glands.” Dr. John Parker, D.C.

    • Hi Robin,

      There is a lack of studies ‘proving’ efficacy in a number of therapies in the integrative world, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t work, it just means they haven’t been studied sufficiently (although it’s very possible that many of these therapies will be proven ineffective overtime). All therapies must first be thought of before they are tested and proven, so it’s not surprising that most people with newer ideas don’t have validation to their thoughts until a later date.

      I happen to mostly disagree with that assertion but there’s still room for us to both be right in the grand scheme of things. The truth is that tyrosine will work for many people and it won’t work for some. That’s just the nature of almost every therapy that exists right now. The hard part is finding what works for your body and then using that.

  6. Hi, I had my thyroid removed due to cancer ( follicular variant of papillary) four years ago. I am 43 now. I am struggling, long before thyroid cancer, with issues that I’m realizing are maybe due to undiagnosed ADD and needing brain support. I found a product that has DL-phenylalanine in it but wants to make sure it is safe to use with no thyroid and history of thyroid cancer. Currently, have tsh of .4 I don’t want to “feed “ potentially dormant cancer cells but I think I’m understanding this would suppress them or can I even make this on my own anymore? My endo is at Mayo and has been great in terms of cancer but doesn’t believe in anything holistic who’s health has been very frustrating for me. Any suggestions or answers would be great! Thank you!

  7. Had radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroid in my 20s, I’m now hypothyroid and taking levothyroxine, now in my 60s. Researched online that the continuation of this med can have a negative effect on kidneys, heart, and the vascular system.
    So, I’ve been taking L-tyrosine along with my vitamins and sea kelp. I must say it has helped me tremendously. It really has! Looking into acquiring info and products that would help with regulating cortisol and adrenal support would be very beneficial here. Thanks a lot for people like you who care for people like us. Connie.

  8. I had a bout of hyperthyroidism in fifth grade that was adjusted after a year on medication. My thyroid stopped after the birth of my second child (1989). I’ve been on Levothyroxine since: I’m now 62 and have gone thru menopause. My overall health is good, but I’ve gained weight and my skin has become extremely dry, my hair falls out everywhere, but I’m not bald. Would L-Tyrosine do anything for me as a post-menopausal thyroid patient?

    • Hi Julie,

      Whether or not L-tyrosine will work for you doesn’t have anything to do with you being post-menopausal as it depends more on your serum levels and a number of other factors. I typically recommend a trial of this nutrient if you suspect that it will work for you.

  9. Hi ,I have been on thyroxine for 14 yrs ,never felt well , I have managed thru diet to bring my dosage right down , but I have high b12 ( over 1200 level ) I was wondering about having the MHTFR test to see if I’m absorbing b12 , but the doctors don’t even know about it, if b12 is very high is it still ok to take b12 methyl type , where can I get the test done ?
    Also, I was told that iodine 245mcg is ok but how much tyrosine to take as I’m feeling very tired but I was told levels were ok so I thought I’d try tyrosine to see if it helps.
    Also which make do you recommend I take a multivitamin with iodine in but no tyrosine.
    Thanks for your help

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