Tyramine: What Is It And What Foods To Avoid

Tyramine is a naturally occurring compound in the body and is also found in certain foods. It is derived from the amino acid tyrosine. Some research suggests that tyramine can trigger migraines. Does this mean it is potentially dangerous? If yes, what can you do about it?
What Is Tyramine? Is It Harmful?
Tyramine is a monoamine (a compound that is a neurotransmitter). It is naturally found in some foods, plants, and animals. Fermentation, aging, or the spoiling of foods can also produce tyramine.
Our bodies contain an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO helps process tyramine.
If you have insufficient MAO in your system, eating foods with tyramine can trigger migraines (1).
In the gut, MAO also protects against the build-up of potentially harmful substances. MAO breaks down excess tyramine in the body, which can then be excreted.
Tyramine, by itself, is not harmful as it helps regulate blood pressure levels (2).
However, if consumed in excess, tyramine may cause blood pressure spikes that can be life-threatening (3).
Here is where we need to discuss monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These are medications that slow down the action of MAO. This stops MAO from preventing tyramine build-up, leading to increased levels of tyramine in your system (4).
If you also consume foods high in tyramine, it only adds to the problem by causing tyramine build-up.
What Are The Foods High In Tyramine (To Be Avoided)?