Which Aromatic Amino Acid Is Nonessential?

Tyrosine is a dietary supplement that is quite popular and is usually utilized by individuals to improve their focus, attention, and alertness.

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A number of health benefits of amino acids are well documented. They are utilized by the body for the proper and healthy accomplishment of biological functions and processes. Amino acids are classified as either essential and nonessential. Both these types of amino acids provide numerous different benefits to the human body. Another classification of amino acids referred to as Aromatic Amino Acids or AAA. But, which aromatic amino acid is nonessential? Read on.

Aromatic Amino Acids (AAA): A Brief Background

Amino acids are proteins building blocks and they are classified as either essential or non-essential. There are twenty (20) amino acids in total and there are 11 nonessential ones or those that can be produced by the body naturally. The nine (9) essential amino acids, on the other hand, are those that cannot be produced by the body naturally and are, therefore, supposed to be obtained from external sources such as food items and/or supplements. But what about aromatic amino acids?

Aromatic Amino acids or AAAs are a type of amino acid with a ring that is aromatic and among the twenty (20) amino acids, the aromatic ones (AAAs) include Histidine, Tyrosine, Tryptophan, and Phenylalanine. Among these aromatic amino acids (AAAs), only one is actually nonessential and this is the Amino acid Tyrosine.

The Health Benefits of the NonEssential and Aromatic Amino Acid Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a dietary supplement that is quite popular and is usually utilized by individuals to improve their focus, attention, and alertness. This amino acid has also been shown to aid in the production of chemicals in the brain that can aid in cellular communication and has been linked to mood regulation. As stated earlier, Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which means it no longer has to be obtained from external sources due to the fact that the body can produce this organic compound on its own.

Tyrosine can still be found in different food items such as dairy products,  fish, turkey, and chicken, along with other food items that are considered high-protein. This nonessential amino acid can aid the body in the production of several key compounds which are:

  • Dopamine – This substance can aid in the regulation of the pleasure and reward center of the human brain and is also helpful in motor skills and memory.
  • Noradrenaline and adrenaline – These are forms of hormones that trigger the different responses of human beings such as fight-or-flight particularly in situations that are stressful.  These hormones, in general, help the body in preparing for either fleeing from or fighting a perceived threat. 
  • Hormones of the thyroid – These hormones in the thyroid are primarily tasked with the regulation of a person’s metabolic functions.
  • Melanin – The skin primarily gets its color from this pigment, along with the color of an individual’s eyes and hair. People who have skin that is dark have higher levels of melanin compared to those with fairer skin.

The intake of tyrosine is also considered rather convenient as it can be taken as a form of a supplement. It can also be blended with other components to serve as a drink before working out or it can be taken on its own.

Taking supplements with tyrosine is believed to increase the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine. With these neurotransmitters increased, a marked improvement may be observed particularly during situations that are stressful.

Enumerated below are some of the other specific health benefits of tyrosine:

It can help in the improvement of mental focus during situations that are stressful

Everyone experiences some form of stress and this can lead to the said stress affecting knowledge, attention, and memory due to neurotransmitters that are reduced as well. One study showed that rats who were exposed to a stressor such as cold had lower levels of neurotransmitters.

However, when supplements with tyrosine are given to the animal test subjects, it was noted that memory was restored and the impairment of the neurotransmitters was reversed. Similar studies that were conducted on human subjects yielded results that are almost the same.

Tyrosine may be able to aid patients suffering from Phenylketonuria

PKU or phenylketonuria is a form of the condition that is genetic and rare which results in the buildup of unused phenylalanine.  One of the best ways to deal with this rare medical condition is to limit or completely avoid food items that contain phenylalanine. 

However, since phenylalanine is the product of tyrosine, individuals suffering from PKU can have a tyrosine deficiency and can lead to problems with a person’s behavior. Tyrosine supplementation can help with the said medical issue. 

Tyrosine can possibly aid in addressing depression

For this possible benefit, the results of studies are admittedly mixed, and currently, further research is ongoing.  This is because tyrosine can play a role in neurotransmitter health and since depression is linked with neurotransmitter imbalance, tyrosine supplementation may be helpful. There are even claims that since tyrosine can help in producing the needed neurotransmitters in the body, this nonessential amino acid can be considered a form of antidepressant. 

But as mentioned earlier, results on its effects on depression are still mixed. One study conducted on 65 test subjects did not show any conclusive evidence that tyrosine is indeed effective as an antidepressant. However, another study showed that tyrosine can help people with depression caused by reduced levels of noradrenaline, adrenaline, and dopamine.

Some of the symptoms of depression caused by dopamine deficiency include low motivation and reduced levels of energy. Further research is needed to fully establish the usefulness of tyrosine in addressing the different signs of depression but the other studies conducted at present are showing some great and positive results overall.

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