Can we treat ADHD symptoms via Tyrosine supplementation?
This is the 3rd post in our series of discussions regarding ADHD and supplementation with the amino acid tyrosine. Some physicians (and ADHD patients) swear by it, but the results in the literature and clinical studies are often muddled. Why is this the case?
Over the past few postings, I have been going over the metabolic pathway of how the body converts the amino acid tyrosine to our desired brain chemicals of dopamine and norepinephrine. Imbalances of both dopamine and norepinephrine are typically seen in ADHD, and this imbalance is the target of most ADHD medications (especially the stimulants) during their modes of action.
Here is the metabolic pathway on Tyrosine to Dopamine and Norephinephrine again (you can click on the image to get a larger view, or see the original image source here )
In our first post on ADHD and tyrosine supplementation , we went through the overview of this pathway. In our last posting , we went through the first step of the process: the conversion of tyrosine (also referred to as L-tyrosine) to DOPA (also referred to as L-DOPA, Levodopa and a number of trade names such as Dopar, Laradopar or Sinemet), and the enzymes and nutrient co-factors involved in this conversion process. L-DOPA is a common treatment method for patients with Parkinson's Disease.
I was going to start with the next step of the process today: the conversion of L-DOPA to dopamine, and the major enzymes involved. However, one of our readers from the previous posting on the conversion of Tyrosine to L-DOPA, posed an excellent question on a topic I failed to address (which may be on the minds of several readers). As a result, I will dedicate the remainder of this post to this question and save the next step of the tyrosine to dopamine pathway for the next blog entry.
LynneC asked about the advantages of supplementing with tyrosine vs. supplementing directly with L-DOPA. As we saw in the previous posting on tyrosine supplementation for ADHD , the tyrosine to dopamine conversion requires one major enzyme (tyrosine hydroxylase) and several secondary enzymes (to produce some of the compounds needed to help the tyrosine hydroxylase enzyme to function properly), as well as nutrient co-factors such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and even antioxidants or reducing agents such as vitamin C.
If this is the case, why should we mess with tyrosine at all? Shouldn't we just bypass this first step of the process entirely and start with L-DOPA? Here are a few things to consider