What is Tryptophan?: Know it all

What is Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that you need to balance with your diet. It’s used by your body to make serotonin a hormone that helps regulate your mood. It also helps your body make niacin and melatonin other hormones. We use tryptophan supplements to make our body absorb this essential amino acid easier. This blog will help you understand the importance of tryptophan supplements. This blog will also help you with what is exactly tryptophan? its benefits, side effects, and how to consume tryptophan.   

Use Of Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid needed to create serotonin, which makes us feel happy. Serotonin levels in the brain drop when we physically exert ourselves so that we’re more tired and stressed. 

It is a naturally occurring protein that has been linked to lowering symptoms of depression and protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.

Research trials have shown that this chemical can have potential health benefits, such as helping to treat sleeping issues such as insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, menstrual discomfort, and anxiety while quitting smoking. However, there is some controversy in these results because more research is needed to confirm these findings.

There is a common misconception that tryptophan causes drowsiness. This idea is associated with Thanksgiving, an American holiday centered on large family dinners that typically result in slumber for their participants. Studies suggest the stereotype to be true largely because consuming enormous meals stimulates the production of insulin. Which clears all other amino acids out of circulation except for tryptophan. By doing so, it creates a chemical path that floods our brain with more tryptophan than usual.

Controversy exists about whether it causes drowsiness. Insulin and large amounts of carbohydrates can also cause drowsiness. Although turkey is food that contains more tryptophan than another. Let us study more about them below.

Food Products That Contain Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that one cannot synthesize naturally. The human body requires the compound to produce serotonin. Serotonin plays a vital role in regulating mood, growth, and development. Most people consume more tryptophan than is necessary. Typical intake levels total about 900-1000 milligrams every day, while intake of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) amounts to between 250 and 425 milligrams per day.

Below is the list of food products that contain tryptophan significantly:

  • Chicken & Turkey

 It is a common misconception that turkey contains the most amount of tryptophan, but it is false. The light meat of turkey contains 410 mg per pound when it is raw, while the dark meat contains 303 mg per pound. With chicken, it is 238 mg for light meat and 256 mg for dark meat per pound. Although it is less than turkey, it is not a negligible amount.

  • Milk 

Whole milk is one of the richest sources of tryptophan, with 732 milligrams per quart. In fact, 2% reduced-fat milk contains 551 milligrams per quart.    

  • Cheese 

Cheddar cheese isn’t as high in tryptophan as meat, but one ounce of cheese contains 91 mg of tryptophan.

  • Canned tuna 

Canned tuna contains a generous amount of tryptophan, which is 472 per ounce. 

  • Chocolate 

The highest amount of tryptophan chocolate can contain is 18 mg per ounce. 

  • Nuts & seeds 

A nut that contains the highest amount of tryptophan is a peanut. It contains 65 mg of tryptophan per ounce. 

  • Bread 

Bread contains tryptophan in different amounts for whole wheat and refined wheat bread. It is 19 mg and 22 mg per slice, respectively. 

  • Fruits 

Fruits contain tryptophan in a very small quantity, which serves the purpose of consuming tryptophan. A medium-sized banana contains 11mg, while a medium-sized apple contains 2mg of tryptophan.

Benefits Of Tryptophan

The natural tryptophan in foods has been shown to have numerous health benefits, with most coming from an increased level of niacin and, thus, serotonin.

Serotonin is a hormone that regulates many things in your body, from mood to sleep. It also helps control pain and depression by increasing the number of natural happiness hormones.

Risks Of Consuming Tryptophan

While tryptophan is typically safe, some people experience adverse effects from the supplement form. It is reported that tryptophan supplements were linked to over 1,500 reports of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) and 37 deaths in an epidemic.

This is a rare disorder that affects multiple organs and systems in the body, including the skin, lungs, and muscles. A patient’s condition often begins suddenly, progresses rapidly, and can be life-threatening. 

The symptoms of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) are muscle pain or weakness, skin rashes, and cramping. The patient will also experience difficulty breathing along with fatigue, as one might expect from an illness.

The investigation revealed that the medical problems were likely due to contamination of supplements rather than tryptophan itself. It is an essential amino acid that can help treat symptoms of some conditions, but it may raise your serotonin levels too much if combined with medications like tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), MAO inhibitors, pain relievers like tramadol and meperidine. Transformation migraines treatment cough syrup that contains dextromethorphan.

If you are taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), it’s important to speak with your doctor about any changes in nutrient intake.

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed medications that help people suffering from depression and anxiety. Their side effects can be increased serotonin levels if combined with citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft). While it is safe to consume tryptophan if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, one should be on the side of caution and avoid these circumstances.

Side Effects Of Tryptophan

The amino acid tryptophan has many health benefits, but it can also cause unwanted side effects in some people. Gastrointestinal side effects of tryptophan are the most common, which include heartburn and stomach pain. You may also experience belching or vomiting and diarrhea these can be caused by an acidic environment in your gut flora due to too much consumption (or lack) of certain foods like coffee. 

Serious side effects that require you to stop consuming tryptophan immediately are drowsiness, lightheadedness, and visual blurring. You may also experience muscle weakness or fatigue as well if it is not treated quickly enough.


The amino acid tryptophan is a sleep aid. When taken at 1 gram 45 minutes before bedtime, it’s been shown that people with mild insomnia and those whose long latency in falling asleep has caused problems sleeping will benefit from the treatment most Restoration medications often contain this ingredient too.

The FDA banned the sale of L-tryptophan over the counter, but an alternative has been found. 5 Hydroxy tryptophan (5 H2 Trp) acts in place if its predecessor with similar effects and can be taken orally with no side orders.

The FDA has documented thousands of cases where people who took L-tryptophan supplements developed a dangerous condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). EMS causes sudden and severe muscle pain, nerve damage, skin changes that can lead to other debilitating symptoms.


Tryptophan is a natural, essential amino acid that the human body needs for survival. It’s also an important part of many foods and supplements. For those looking to increase their tryptophane intake through food or dietary supplements, remember these benefits and risks before you make your decision. If you have questions about this post or want more information on tryptophane products, you may contact us through the mail. 


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