Learn About Tryptophan And Its Many Benefits

Learn About Tryptophan And Its Many Benefits

WHAT IS TRYPTOPHAN?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our body doesn't produce, thus it must be acquired from food. It is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Sometimes called the “happy hormone”, serotonin contributes to our wellbeing and happiness. Because of that, tryptophan has a number of benefits and useful applications. If you take tryptophan, it can help restore a serotonin imbalance.

HOW DOES TRYPTOPHAN WORK?

Although the “happy hormone”, serotonin, cannot be taken as a supplement by itself, tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids that provides the body with the building blocks to produce it. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in our body, it regulates our mood, memory, sleep and eating behaviour.

In addition to providing the foundation for our brain to be able to produce serotonin, tryptophan is also used by the body to create melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycles. It is also an important precursor to niacin, which is a B vitamin, and essential nutrient. Niacin is used by our body to turn food into energy.

TRYPTOPHAN

TRYPTOPHAN AS A MOOD ENHANCER

In addition to producing melatonin to help us sleep better, another big role for tryptophan is that it helps produce serotonin. An imbalance of serotonin is often at the root for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Tryptophan has shown to help there as well.

TRYPTOPHAN AS A NATURAL APPETITE REDUCER

Tryptophan has also shown to work as a natural appetite reducer. During one study[7] with 15 healthy people who had been given L-tryptophan, it was found that those who received the supplement ate fewer carbohydrates and more protein, resulting in intake of 20% fewer calories.

In research[8] conducted with animals, rats which had been given L-tryptophan had been observed to eat less and less frequently.

It is believed that low tryptophan levels in the brain may be one reason for increased carbohydrate cravings. From these findings one can conclude that tryptophan can help people to eat less, and to eat healthier.

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TRYPTOPHAN CAN IMPROVE EXERCISE PERFORMANCE

Tryptophan has shown to improve your body's performance when exercising. During a study where athletes were asked to run on a treadmill until exhaustion, those who[14] had been given tryptophan were able to exercise for about 49.4% longer than those without the supplement.

It is also thought that tryptophan increases pain tolerance, resulting in longer exercise times.

WHICH FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF TRYPTOPHAN?

WHICH FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF TRYPTOPHAN?

As shown above, tryptophan provides many useful benefits. However, the body cannot produce this amino acid, which means we have to obtain it from food. Fortunately, this isn’t difficult since tryptophan can be found in many foods such as meats, vegetables, fruit and grains. Let’s take a more detailed look at sources of tryptophan in the basic food groups.

Meats, in particular chicken, turkey, and certain game meats such as rabbit or pheasant are rich in tryptophan. It is also found in fish, especially in cod, halibut and salmon.

Vegetables, including potatoes, beets, spinach, but also seaweed and kelp, are rich sources of tryptophan. It is also found in fruits such as bananas, mango and dates.

Dairy and grains: eggs, milk and cheese, as well as grains like wheat, rice, beans, oats, soybeans, lentils, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas, are also very good sources of tryptophan.

IS IT SAFE TO TAKE TRYPTOPHAN? DOES IT HAVE ANY SIDE-EFFECTS?

IS IT SAFE TO TAKE TRYPTOPHAN? DOES IT HAVE ANY SIDE-EFFECTS?

Tryptophan is safe to take, especially when you obtain it from food in your diet. Potential side effects may only occur when you take a tryptophan supplement, and then usually only if you exceed the recommended dosage. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t take tryptophan supplements.

If you’re unsure about taking a tryptophan supplement, do not self-medicate. You should always consult your doctor first, in particular if you have existing health conditions and/or are taking medications.

Disclaimer:
We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
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  3. The Effects of Dietary Tryptophan on Affective Disorders - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4393508/
  4. Potentiation of the antidepressant action of clomipramine by tryptophan. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/985049
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  10. L-Tryptophan in Mania: Contribution to a Permissive Hypothesis of Affective Disorders | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/491056
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  12. Error - Cookies Turned Off - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1981.tb00766.x
  13. Effects of tryptophan, kynurenine and kynurenic acid exerted on human reconstructed corneal epithelium in vitro. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28551532
  14. Effect of L-tryptophan supplementation on exercise performance. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3246461
  15. Neuroendocrine effects of L-tryptophan and dexamethasone. - PubMed - NCBI - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3090598/
  16. - https://www.jci.org