Understanding the Differences Between L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine

In this article, we will take a close look at L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine, two amino acids with distinct properties and effects on the body. We will delve into their sources, their roles in the body, and their potential therapeutic applications.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

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What is L-theanine?

L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid primarily found in green and black tea leaves and some mushrooms. It is one of the umami components of green tea, contributing to the unique flavor of tea [1]. L-theanine exhibits strong antioxidant-like properties and has been reported to have various therapeutic effects, including improvements in brain and gastrointestinal function, cancer drug therapeutic efficacies, antihypertensive effects, and improved immune function [2].

L-theanine has been historically reported as a relaxing agent, and animal neurochemistry studies suggest that it increases brain serotonin, dopamine, GABA levels, and has micromolar affinities for AMPA, Kainate, and NMDA receptors [3]. It also has been shown to exert neuroprotective effects in animal models possibly through its antagonistic effects on group 1 metabotrophic glutamate receptors [3].

L-theanine is commercially developed as a valuable ingredient used for various applications in food and pharmaceutical industries due to its various health functions [1]. It's also available in pill or tablet form and is said to help ease anxiety, stress, and reduce insomnia [4]. It can also be consumed in the form of L-Theanine Gummies.

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What is L-tyrosine?

L-Tyrosine, often simply referred to as tyrosine, is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in the production of proteins within the body. It is also involved in the development of dopamine in the brain and influences the production of pigments. Humans typically obtain tyrosine from foods that are high in protein [5].

Tyrosine is one of the twenty proteinogenic amino acids and also acts as a precursor for secondary metabolites [6]. It is synthesized de novo only in plants and microorganisms. In plants, tyrosine also serves as a precursor of numerous specialized metabolites that have diverse physiological roles as electron carriers, antioxidants, attractants, and defense compounds. Some of these tyrosine-derived plant natural products are also used in human medicine and nutrition (e.g., morphine and vitamin E) [7].

What is the difference between L-tyrosine and L-thianine?

L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine are both amino acids, but they have different properties and effects on the body.

L-Theanine, primarily found in green and black tea and some mushrooms, is known for its calming effects. It can help ease anxiety, stress, and reduce insomnia. It's also been reported to have cardiovascular, neurological, and oncological effects. L-Theanine is being considered as a therapeutic/medicinal agent and additive in consumer products [8, 9, 10].

On the other hand, L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that the body produces from another amino acid called phenylalanine. It's important for the production of several important substances, including dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, thyroid hormones, and melanin. L-Tyrosine is often used in supplements to improve alertness, attention, and focus.

In summary, while both L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine are amino acids, they have different sources and effects on the body. L-Theanine is primarily found in tea and is known for its calming effects, while L-Tyrosine is produced by the body and is often used to improve alertness and focus.

What are the similarities between L-tyrosine and L-thianine?

L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine are both amino acids, but they have different structures and functions in the body. L-Tyrosine is a proteinogenic amino acid, meaning it is used in the body to build proteins. On the other hand, L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid, which means it is not used to build proteins but has other functions in the body [8, 10].

Both L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine are found naturally in certain foods. L-Tyrosine is found in high-protein foods like chicken, turkey, fish, and dairy products, while L-Theanine is primarily found in tea leaves [8, 10].

In terms of their effects on the body, both L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine have been associated with promoting relaxation and improving concentration. However, the mechanisms through which they achieve these effects are different. L-Tyrosine is a precursor to several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, which are involved in mood regulation and response to stress. L-Theanine, on the other hand, is thought to promote relaxation without sedation and improve attention [8, 11].

In terms of their chemical structures, L-Tyrosine has a phenol side chain, while L-Theanine has an amide side chain. Despite these differences, both L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine are soluble in water [8, 10].

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Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.