N-acetyl-L-tyrosine (NALT) supposedly has better absorption and stronger nootropic effects than L-tyrosine. However, science tells a different story and points to some major drawbacks. Read on to find out if NALT really is a better option and how to use it properly.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid your body uses to make proteins, neurotransmitters, and other vital compounds. Your body can make it from another amino acid, phenylalanine. You can also get it from good protein sources such as cheese, meat, eggs, and beans [1, 2, 3].
N-acetyl-L-tyrosine (NALT or NAT) is a derivative of L-tyrosine promoted for its supposedly higher absorption and efficacy. People use it as a supplement to boost their physical and mental performance. Still, science supports only a fraction of these claims and anecdotal benefits.
N-acetyl-l-tyrosine is a different form of l-tyrosine, an amino acid your body uses to build proteins and neurotransmitters.
A portion of ingested NALT turns into L-tyrosine, an amino acid with promising nootropic and stimulant effects. L-tyrosine increases neurotransmitters known as catecholamines: dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine .
They play central roles in your mental health, cognition, behavior, and stress response. Your body needs a steady supply of tyrosine to maintain their production and keep your physical and cognitive performance at peak levels [5, 6].
In clinical trials, L-tyrosine was able to:
It seems to have a nootropic effect in extreme conditions that deplete catecholamines and expose the body to additional stress. These include sleep deprivation, multitasking, military training, and cold weather [14, 15, 16].
Users attribute the same benefits to N-acetyl-L-tyrosine, but studies have yet to confirm this.
L-tyrosine boosts mood and cognition in stressful situations. Users attribute the same benefits to NALT, but the clinical evidence is lacking.
According to limited clinical evidence and animal trials, L-tyrosine may also:
In computer tests, several N-acetyl-tyrosine derivatives activated PPAR-alpha, a protein that breaks down fat, boosts weight loss, and increases MTHFR gene production. However, we can’t know if NALT activates the same pathways in humans based on this study .
There’s not enough evidence to support supplementation for:
N-acetyl-tyrosine is more water-soluble than L-tyrosine and thus more suitable for parenteral (intravenous) nutrition for people who can’t eat and drink .
The body supposedly also uses it better from supplement than L-tyrosine, but the evidence doesn’t fully support these claims. We partly metabolize NALT into free tyrosine but eliminate 35-38% of unchanged substance with the urine [32, 33, 34].
In a study of 13 people, NALT didn’t increase tyrosine levels at all. The authors suggested tyrosine linked to other amino acids (alanine or glycine) as preferred options for parenteral nutrition .
All studies used injected NALT, and there’s no available data on the metabolism and efficacy of oral supplements.
However, acetylation of amino acids is a well-known and powerful tool for boosting their brain uptake and stability, which often unlocks new health benefits. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and acetyl-DL-leucine both have beneficial effects on the brain and mental health [36, 37, 38].
Future research may reveal some hidden perks of the acetylated form of L-tyrosine, too.
NALT gets transformed into L-tyrosine in your body and should thus be safe for oral consumption. However, no clinical trials have verified its long-term safety yet.
Since some users take NALT for Parkinson’s disease, the potential interaction with L-DOPA deserves attention. As a source of tyrosine, NALT may hinder the transport of L-DOPA into the brain and cause variations in its effectiveness known as the “on-off” phenomenon .
Given these potential drug interactions, make sure to consult your doctor before taking NALT for Parkinson’s or combining it with any medications.
The fact that high doses of L-tyrosine may cause cognitive decline in the elderly also questions the use of NALT in this population .
Children and pregnant women should avoid NALT unless prescribed by their doctor.
That said, product manufacturers suggest much lower NALT doses (700-1000 mg), which seem to be effective in some users.
For short-term nootropic effects, you should take it 30-60 mins before a stressful or challenging task .
Note: Supplement retailers often make unverified claims about the advantages of NALT over L-tyrosine. As mentioned, L-tyrosine remains a better choice for oral supplementation according to the available evidence.
Users take NALT to boost cognitive performance, mood, and thyroid hormones. The majority of them report positive experiences, while others find it ineffective and inferior to L-tyrosine.
Older patients use it for Parkinson’s disease, and they also report mixed results.
The most common side effects are fatigue and headache.
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