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L-tyrosine has multiple actions in the body. However, the most clinically significant is its ability to form the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Dopamine and norepinephrine are important neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that regulate the activities of cells, including modulation of mood, blood pressure, cellular energy, and the stress response. Deficits of dopamine and norepinephrine are associated with the development of neurological disorders, including attention disorders, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, mood disorders, depression, and narcolepsy. By increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels, tyrosine may improve the symptoms of these disorders.
The ability of norepinephrine and dopamine to dynamically modulate cognitive function and physiology through intracellular signalling mechanisms is a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, is often thought of as rewiring the brain and is an essential process for learning and memory, and for responding to changes in environment, experience, or brain chemistry.
The process of neuroplasticity is critical to understanding how tyrosine works during periods of stress. Loss of dopamine and norepinephrine during chronic environmental stress is associated with impaired neuroplasticity, contributing to cognitive decline, fatigue, memory loss, and problems with mood. A number of research studies indicate tyrosine supplementation is effective in lessening the body's response to stress, including exposure to cold, fatigue, prolonged work or exercise, and sleep deprivation.
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