L-tryptophan is needed in our body for the production of the hormone serotonin. Serotonin helps with falling asleep and the transition into deep sleep and contributes to a healthy stress resistance. Further, serotonin is converted to the sleep hormone melatonin. This is important for the functioning of our “inner clock”.
Those who regularly suffer from stress and inner turmoil can benefit from taking certain amino acids. An unhealthy diet or too little sleep can also increase the need. One of the most effective means of preventing sleep disorders and mood swings is L-tryptophan. The essential amino acid plays an important role in human metabolism and is involved in numerous processes.
L-tryptophan, or tryptophan for short, is one of eight essential amino acids. Essential in this case means that the body cannot produce them itself. Accordingly, essential amino acids must necessarily be ingested through food or certain dietary supplements. The amino acid has an aromatic structure as well as an indole ring system. Good to know: There is no difference between tryptophan and L-tryptophan. The addition of the name results from the fact that the amino acid is naturally present in the L-form. In addition, tryptophan is a component of many proteins, which is why it is counted among the proteinogenic amino acids.
Tryptophan is considered essential when it comes to the formation of important messenger and nutrient substances. The formation of serotonin, melatonin and niacin is significantly dependent on the presence of the amino acid. It is the precursor of serotonin, which is why tryptophan can have a mood-lifting effect when properly converted. The reason for this is the fact that serotonin is one of the so-called “happiness hormones”. When it is released by the body, we feel good, relaxed and satisfied. Another task is performed by the important melatonin. Since it is formed from tryptophan in the dark and is responsible for a healthy sleep-wake rhythm, the sufficient presence of tryptophan also plays an essential role here. Furthermore, L-tryptophan indirectly supports healthy liver function as it is involved in the metabolism of niacin. Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, regulates the ratio of HDL and LDL cholesterol. Too little niacin can lead to unfavorable blood lipid levels. Sufficient niacin, on the other hand, keeps levels low and in balance. In addition, B3 is involved in the regeneration of nerves and muscle tissue.
Psychological complaints can be triggered by everyday stress and hormonal changes. Taking L-tryptophan can help restore mental balance, as the amino acid is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain via 5-HTP. Tryptophan can be helpful in cases of temporarily increased stress levels and associated problems falling asleep and staying asleep. It should be noted, however, that although the intake of tryptophan can bring a mood-lifting effect, it is not suitable for the treatment of depression or anxiety disorders.
In general, it is recommended to consume 3.5 to 6 mg of tryptophan per kilogram of body weight daily through food. However, an unbalanced, low-protein diet or certain metabolic, liver and gastrointestinal disorders can cause the requirement to increase. It is advisable to include as many tryptophan sources as possible in the diet to ensure optimal supply. In particular, soybeans (590 mg/100 g), cocoa beans (293 mg/100 g), cashews (287 mg/100 g), chicken breast (267 mg/100 g) and peas (266 mg/100 g) are rich in tryptophan. However, it is also a fact that tryptophan is not present in foods in free form, but only in bound form. Due to chemical binding, only a fraction of the tryptophan actually present in the food can actually be absorbed by the body. Compared to food supplements, the effect is accordingly not the same.
If the need for tryptophan cannot be covered by food or if certain diseases prevent the amino acid from being metabolized by the body in sufficient quantities, the intake of appropriate dietary supplements should be considered. Tryptophan is available in various forms (powder, capsules and pellets) and dosages. Pressed pellets, for example Amino Vida, are particularly easy to dose and also contain all other essential amino acids. Since the amino acids contained are obtained from legumes, the tablets are 100 percent vegan. Another advantage is that they contain tryptophan in its unbound form. This allows the amino acid to be absorbed particularly quickly by the intestine.
As long as tryptophan is dosed properly, no side effects are to be expected. However, those who permanently rely on very high-dose preparations may suffer from sweating, nausea and dizziness. Not least for this reason, it is important not to exceed 1,000 mg daily in the long term. Anyone who decides to take an appropriate dietary supplement should orient themselves to the recommended guideline values. Depending on body weight, these amount to about 400 to 1,000 mg per day. Consultation with a doctor is always necessary if certain medications are also taken. These include antidepressants, antiepileptics, antihypertensives, levodopa, opioids and dextromethorphan, as interactions may occur.
Anyone who ingests more than 3 mg per kilogram of body weight over a longer period of time must expect undesirable effects. Long-term overdose causes the body to stimulate increased degradation of the amino acid. In addition, tryptophan accelerates its own degradation process through the enzyme tryptophan pyrrolase when it is highly available. In relation to the psyche, this can result in negative instead of the hoped-for positive effects. Consequently, it is not recommended to take too high a dose of tryptophan over a longer period of time.
This text is for informational and educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. If you are interested in L-tryptophan, you can find more information for example in the preparations Amino Vida and Relax Vida. For further questions about amino acids contact us or ask your doctor.