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Natural Energizers: A Better Boost

DL-phenylalanine (DLPA)
How it works: Precursor for tyrosine, which converts to dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

Positive effects: Enhances mood; promotes energy; relieves pain; controls appetite.

Cautions: Can be too stimulating, generating anxiety, high blood pressure, and/or insomnia; should not be taken by phenylketonurics. Not recommended for those with a history of mania or other types of mental illness.

Dosage: 500-1,000 mg daily before morning meal. Can be repeated later in the day, but not too close to bedtime. Add 25-50 mg of vitamin B6 and 500 mg of vitamin C daily to enhance its conversion to tyrosine.

Tyrosine: For Performance
Tyrosine is made in the body from phenylalanine and has the same effects on the brain. It usually acts more rapidly, as it is one step further down the metabolic line. It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier to produce the energizing neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. It also is used to make thyroid hormone, the body's energy controller, which manages both metabolic rate and energy production. When your thyroid function is low, so is your energy.

Some people find DLPA more effective than tyrosine for stimulation, but remember that in some people, DLPA is more likely to cause hypertension (high blood pressure). DLPA also differs in its ability to control appetite by releasing CCK, an appetite suppressant made in the gut, and in its action as a pain reliever.

Neither amino acid should be taken with MAOIs, antidepressants involving certain food restrictions; by phenylketonurics; by those with malignant melanomas; or by pregnant or breast-feeding women.

Tyrosine has long been known by the military to improve mental and physical performance under stress. Research by the U.S. military found that soldiers given tyrosine in stressful conditions of extreme cold, or while undertaking intense physical activity over prolonged periods of time, showed clear improvements in both mental and physical endurance. More recent research from Holland demonstrates how tyrosine gives you the edge in conditions of stress. A total of twenty-one cadets were put through a demanding one-week military-combat training course; ten of them were given a drink containing 2 g of tyrosine a day, while the remaining eleven were given an identical drink without the tyrosine. Those on tyrosine consistently performed better, both in memorizing the task at hand and in tracking the tasks they had performed.

Since individual sensitivity varies, start with 100 mg or so of tyrosine, even if it means partially emptying out a capsule, and work your way up to your ideal dose. You can take another dose later in the day when your energy is flagging, since DLPA and tyrosine are good, quick energizers. If you are feeling like you need a caffeine boost, open a 500-mg DLPA or tyrosine capsule and put half of the contents under your tongue. It will be quickly absorbed and will give you the kick you want, without the rebound. You may need a whole one, but it's best to try half first. This avoids too much of a rush if you are particularly sensitive to its effects.

In response to regular usage, your brain actually produces more dopamine receptors to "receive" this amino acid. This will raise mood over time in those with depression related to insufficient dopamine receptors, as in reward deficiency syndrome. On the other hand, if you don't require it regularly, it's better to use it as needed for a good boost. In clinical practice, we measure the client's amino acid levels and determine if he or she actually needs to supplement. We then recommend supplementation, often in higher doses than those mentioned here, and monitor the patient to be sure that balance is maintained.

How it works: Precursor to the stimulating neurotransmitters dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and the thyroid hormone, thyroxine.

Positive effects: Enhances mood; promotes energy and motivation; supports healthy thyroid function.

Cautions: Hypertension in those susceptible. Should not be taken by phenylketonurics, those with melanomas, or pregnant or nursing women. Not recommended for those with a history of mania, unless under a doctor's care.

Dosage: 100-1,000 mg daily before morning meal to prevent competition from other amino acids. Can be repeated in mid-afternoon.

Next: Page 6 >>

From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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