High Protein Diets, Tyrosine and ADHD

High Protein diets may help ADHD
High protein diets are high in amino acids such as tyrosine which have long been used to treat ADHD. The use of amino acids to treat ADHD has not been sanctioned by any “official” ADHD expert or expert body by many psychiatrist and physicians prescribe tyrosine supplement to their ADHD patients to use alone of in conjunction with their prescription medicine.

 I have posted about tyrosine for ADHD in other posts but to summarize here the thinking is that because tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine and norepinephrine and because these neurotransmitters are at the root of ADHD symptoms, then tyrosine should help ADHD.

The issues surrounding the use of tyrosine for ADHD are complicated. Though tyrosine does cross the blood brain barrier, for it to be effective in alleviating ADHD symptoms, many other metabolic and biological obstacles have to be eliminated. Amino acids look similar to the brain and compete with each other for entry into the brain. If you supplement too much with tyrosine, it may be at the expense of other amino brain amino acids that are also important for the elimination of ADHD symptoms.

These obstacles are no small matter but there are still other obstacles. If tyrosine is to work, cofactors such as vitamins and minerals must be in optimal states. If tyrosine is improve dopamine and norepinephrine levels (norepinephrine may be the main problems in ADHD Inattentive, ADHD-I), specific enzymes most be in optimal states. This means that for tyrosine to work, other vitamins and minerals must be given with it.

Studies have not shown tyrosine to consistently improve ADHD symptoms and some researchers believe that tyrosine does not work for ADHD and at best will do nothing and worse can be harmful. Studies have reported that if cofactors such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes are sub-optimal than tyrosine will not work. Other researchers report that since tyrosine does not address the issues of dopamine and norepinephrine transport within the brain, even if tyrosine improves dopamine levels that no improvement in symptoms will be seen. Other researchers report that too much tyrosine is dangerous and can lead to a build up of a product called homocysteine. Having high homocysteine levels is a medically terrible thing because elevated levels of this particular amino acid can cause strokes, heart attacks, and cancer.

So can high protein diets help brain function in ADHD or ADHD PI? Nutritionist have long suggested that the best way to get an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals and amino acids is by eating a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Diet sources of these key elements are more bio-available, are better absorbed by our bodies and often contain the cofactors that are necessary for our body to best use them. So if this is the case than high protein diets might help cognition and brain function because our brains would be receiving supplemental amino acids packaged in an optimal form.

A recent study published in the May edition of the Journal of Neural Transmission has, in fact, found that high protein diets improve cognition. The researchers of this study fed healthy volunteers a 30% protein diet and fed the controls a 15% (normal) protein diet for three weeks. The researchers then tested the subjects for levels of cognition and for blood levels of harmful brain products such as platelet MaoB, a product thought to cause dementia, and homocysteine. The subjects on the high protein diets not only had better cognitive functioning, they also had protective levels of MaoB and homocysteine.

It appears that diet may improve ADHD symptoms, it is better to eat a high protein diet than it is to supplement with tyrosine. The processes and pathways required for ADHD to work are complicated and dietary amino acids are more bioavailable. I still believe that acetyl L-carnitine, also an amino acids, is helpful for ADHD Inattentive, but the pathways of this amino acid are somewhat different than the brain pathways of tyrosine.

A proteomics study reveals a predominant change in MaoB expression in
 platelets of healthy volunteers after high protein meat diet:
relationship to the methylation cycle.

Zellner M, Babeluk R, Jakobsen LH, Gerner C, Umlauf E, Volf I, Roth E,
Kondrup J. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2011 May

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