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A Quick Primer on Tryptophan!

What is tryptophan?

If you’ve never heard of tryptophan before, you have been missing out on a game-changing supplement that can contribute substantially to your overall health and wellbeing! Also known as the “essential amino acid” or l-tryptophan, this great compound helps in the formation of proteins which are the building blocks of all living organisms. As it is not naturally produced by our bodies, tryptophan needs to be consumed through diet or nutritional supplementation. Taking a tryptophan supplement can bring you a variety of health benefits such as a lower risk of depression, improved mood, and energy levels.

Something that a lot of people don’t know about tryptophan is that it plays a big role in the production of melatonin and serotonin (Palego 2016). Did you know that being deficient in either one of these two important compounds can lead to some serious health issues? For example, melatonin deficiency causes insomnia, disrupted sleep patterns, and low energy levels. People who are deficient in serotonin, on the other hand, are more often than not diagnosed with some sort of an anxiety disorder or even depression. If you are suffering from either one of these afflictions, taking a tryptophan supplement might just be the best decision you ever make to improve your health!

To create both serotonin and melatonin, tryptophan is transported to the brain where it is put to good use by the pineal gland. Recently, researchers have found that when the intake of tryptophan decreases it directly affects the decrease in melatonin (Palego 2016). An easy way to avoid that would be to take tryptophan in the prescribed amounts. This can be an absolutely essential step in improving Stage IV sleep (Palego 2016). If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or stressed, tryptophan also has a positive effect on the mood as it reduces anxiety levels and helps boost the health of the entire nervous system. However, keep in mind that if you are on the verge of purchasing a tryptophan supplement, you should always turn to trusted and verified sellers such as Turkey Sleep. Designed to promote your body’s natural circadian rhythms and improve deep sleep, the Turkey Sleep tryptophan supplement is the right choice. 

How does tryptophan function?

We all know how cranky we can get when we don’t get a good night of sleep in! Getting good sleep is essential for the human brain and body to function properly. Interesting to know is that tryptophan is at the very core of many physiological processes that take place in our bodies. If you thought that your sleepless nights are simply a coincidence, you are about to stand corrected! Because tryptophan is a biochemical precursor to niacin which is a precursor to melatonin, researchers consider it a biochemical starting point which determines the quality of our sleep (Radwanski 1995). 

If you are an athlete or you spend a lot of time in the plane travelling, it is very useful to know that tryptophan helps to regenerate cells. In combination with tyrosine residues, tryptophan helps to anchor the tissue proteins within the membranes of cells (Radwanski 1995). Apart from promoting healthy sleep cycles, tryptophan can also inhibit delayed onset muscle syndrome (DOMS), help with jet-lag, PMS, and even weight issues induced by a hormonal disbalance. 

Are you getting enough protein?

Protein biosynthesis is highly dependent on the amount of tryptophan we have in our bodies (Keszthelyi et al. 2009). Proteins are essential for not only growth and development in children but also the healthy functioning of adult bodies as they contribute to muscle regeneration. Proteins, therefore, are the key components to sustaining life in living organisms. This is so because protein sources also contain the highest amounts of tryptophan. Make sure to get enough protein sources the next time you go grocery shopping!

Most protein-based foods fats are known to be rich in tryptophan (Strasser et al. 2016). However, an alarming number of people in today’s modern world lead unhealthy lifestyles, their diets often lack sufficient amounts of tryptophan. Additionally, people who lead vegan lifestyles should increase their protein intake either through high-protein plan-based foods, or invest into some good supplementation!

If you want to boost your tryptophan intake naturally, make sure to eat foods such as oats, peanuts, bananas, spirulina powder, durians, pumpkin seeds, mangoes, sunflower seeds, dried dates, chickpeas, milk, sesame, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, fish, and red meat. Additionally, turkey meat has been proven to contain the largest amounts of tryptophan. 

Vitamins are essential

First of all, all vitamins are extremely important for our overall health. This is because a vitamin deficiency can cause a sort of a negative chain reaction in our body, which almost certainly leads to trouble. Tryptophan, for example, converts to niacin when it is available in sufficient amounts in the body. Numerous physiological functions such as the conversion of fats to energy or the regulation of blood glucose levels are dependent on niacin. As a B3 vitamin, together with the adrenal gland, niacin helps to produce stress-inhibiting hormones and lower the amount of glucose in the blood (Palego et al. 2016). Not only that, but niacin plays an important role in the health of the entire circulatory system. The human body needs to use 60 milligrams of L-tryptophan in order to create 1mg of niacin (Palego et al. 2016). Naturally, this can result in a rapid reduction of L-tryptophan levels in the body. If our body contains sufficient quantities of niacin, L-tryptophan can be used in other important physiological processes such as the maintenance of stable levels of serotonin in the brain. In order to help your overall health and allow tryptophan to do its job, make sure you body receives vitamin B3 regularly!

Also interesting to know, is that the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin is highly affected by the levels of Pyridoxine HCl (Vitamin B6) in the body as this vitamin acts as a contributor to many reactions involving enzymes. Vitamin B6 not only regulates steroid hormones, but it also promotes processes such as catabolism of glycogen, the normal conduction of nerve impulses, the synthesis/metabolism of neurotransmitters and amino acids, and, lastly, heme synthesis (Keszthelyi et al. 2009).  Just like niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6 plays an essential role in helping tryptophan become converted into serotonin. Who knew that taking a simple vitamin B6 supplement can contribute to you feeling happier on a daily basis!

How to know if you have a tryptophan deficiency

Suffering from anxiety, depression, or sleeplessness may be indicators that you are, indeed, deficient in tryptophan. If you are catching yourself making more frequent trips to the fridge or having sudden food cravings for foods that are, coincidentally, high in tryptophan, this may also be an indication of a tryptophan deficiency. If you don’t yet believe in the power of this supplement, consider the information in the following paragraph. 

Researchers have found that people diagnosed with depression often have tryptophan in quantities that are lower than usual (Strasser et al. 2016). Several other studies have been conducted to explore the effects of different tryptophan levels in the blood. The adjustment of tryptophan levels allowed scientists to look at its effects more closely. In one study (Strasser et al. 2016), the participants were instructed to consume various amino acids. Some of them contained tryptophan, some of them didn’t. The participants were then exposed to two stressful situations. In the first case they had tryptophan in regular amounts in the blood, whereas in the second situation they had considerably lower levels of tryptophan. 

The study showed that nervousness, irritability, and anxiety were all heightened in the second case where the participants had lower tryptophan levels in their blood. It can, therefore, be argued that these results indicate that a decrease in tryptophan levels may cause people to experience stress in larger amounts and it can even result in aggressive behavior (Strasser et al. 2016). Whereas, having stable tryptophan levels means that people are less likely to become seriously aggravated which may contribute to appropriate social behavior (Strasser et al. 2016). 

So next time that you feel aggravated, stressed or outright berserk with anger – ask yourself if investing into a tryptophan supplement might be worth a shot!

What are the Side Effects of Tryptophan?

When it comes to side-effects of taking a tryptophan supplement, scientists are still in the process of reaching a consensus. There is still a lot of research to be done to investigate exactly how tryptophan functions in our body. The correct dosages and the way tryptophan mixes with other medications are somewhat of a mystery. Currently there is no information concerning the maximum dosage of tryptophan, however high dosages have been known to cause some side effects such as nausea, blurred vision, dizziness, etc. However, most people don’t feel any side effects! In case you have been prescribed anti-depressant drugs, however, you should definitely talk to your doctor before deciding to take the plunge and start taking it. If taken as a nutritional supplement, tryptophan can have adverse effects on the body’s processes which are already under the influence of anti-depressants. For example, tryptophan could potentially cause the development of what is called serotonin syndrome when combined with anti-depressants of the SSRI or MAOI class. As always, consult your doctor and make sure you purchase nutritional supplements only from verified sources!

Where’s Tryptophan Available?

If your nutrition isn’t exactly the healthiest or you suffer from insomnia or other health issues discussed above, taking L-tryptophan supplementation may be beneficial to you. If your physician gives you the green light, tryptophan is available for purchase as a supplement either online or in health food stores. Turkey Sleep, for example, is a proven and tested brand that ensures the best quality for the price. The usual dosage for a healthy adult ranges from 500mg to 1000 mg daily. Quality L-tryptophan, such as that from Turkey Sleep, naturally boosts melatonin and serotonin production in the body.

The bottom line

Tryptophan is a crucial amino acid that affects the levels of serotonin and melatonin in our systems. As such, it can be beneficial to anyone who takes it!

Being deficient in tryptophan may cause a decrease in both serotonin and melatonin levels, resulting in adverse effects on your health. An easy way to avoid that is to eat a tryptophan rich diet or to invest into a high-quality supplement such as that from Turkey Sleep. Keep in mind, however, that tryptophan can be found in many foods but in scarce amounts. So why not save yourself the guessing game and simply reap the benefits of scientific progress which allows you to supplement with tryptophan? That way you know you are receiving the right amounts of it for sure. 

Tryptophan is usually safe at the prescribed dosages; however, side effects may be possible, but not a lot of people experience them. Of course, it is important to talk to your doctor before starting to supplement with tryptophan. 

Tryptophan can help you with a wide variety of health issues and, as such, it is one of the most underrated supplements out there! Consider giving it a try, and you might be pleasantly surprised with the results! 

References

Keszthelyi, D., Troost, F. J., & Masclee, A. A. M. 2009. Understanding the role of tryptophan and serotonin metabolism in gastrointestinal function. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 21(12), 1239-1249.

Palego, L., Betti L., Rossi A, Giannacinni G. 2016. Tryptophan Biochemistry: Structural, Nutritional, Metabolic, and Medical Aspects in Humans. Journal of amino acids, 1-13.

Radwanski, E. R., & Last, R. L. 1995. Tryptophan biosynthesis and metabolism: biochemical and molecular genetics. The Plant cell 7(7), 921–934. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.7.7.921

Strasser, B., Gostner, J., Fuchs, D. 2016. Mood, food, and cognition. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 19 (1), 55-61. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000237