What is Tryptophan and what are its benefits for our mental health?

What is Tryptophan and what are its benefits for our mental health?

The Tryptophan It is one of the 23 proteinogenic amino acids (protein precursor) found in nature. Humans need this nutrient as an important component to process proteins and to synthesize the neurotransmitter serotonin, known as the "happy molecule."

It is also one of the nine essential amino acids for humans. Essential amino acids are necessary for the proper functioning of our body, however the body cannot produce these compounds internally. Essential amino acids, including tryptophan, must be absorbed through diet or dietary supplements.


  • 1 Where is Tryptophan?
  • 2 What can Tryptophan do for us?
  • 3 How Tryptophan increases serotonin levels

Where is Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is found in many protein foods, such as red meat, eggs, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, chickpeas, almonds, and peanuts mainly.

Unfortunately, due to its characteristic biological composition, very little tryptophan in the diet actually becomes synthesized by our body.

Research in this field has shown that an increase in Tryptophan in our diet is unlikely to help increase the concentration of Tryptophan in the blood.

In addition, the amount of Tryptophan in the diet, or its metabolites such as 5-HTP, which can cross the barrier that separates the blood and the brain is very limited. Moreover, taking into account that other amino acids from the same protein sources use the same transport channels through the blood barrier to the brain as Tryptophan uses. This obviously limits the amount of tryptophan that can enter the brain.

For many people, this is no problem, but for others its deficit can bring more unpleasant symptoms.

Depression, anxiety, ADHD, memory loss, binge eating and a number of other mental health problems have been correlated with a low level of Tryptophan.

What can Tryptophan do for us?

It has been found that increasing serotonin levels with Tryptophan can improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, memory loss and much more. This is because serotonin plays an important role in mood, sleep, learning and appetite control.

The most popular antidepressant medications such as Prozac and Zoloft are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that work by promoting their absorption in the brain.

How Tryptophan increases serotonin levels

We should know that serotonin molecules alone are too large to enter the brain, so there are no "pills" of serotonin. But we can increase its synthesis by providing its raw material in the form of Tryptophan.

Purified tryptophan supplements have been shown to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, while, as we have said, eating foods rich in Tryptophan does not always produce any effect. For this reason many people have started using Tryptophan supplements to increase their levels of serotonin in the brain, which can provide in a better mood and better sleep patterns.

In addition, Tryptophan is not soluble in water and also has a remarkable resistance to heat, so it is a very durable compound. It also has a high degree of bioavailability.

Thus, Tryptophan has nootropic qualities (brain enhancement) that help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, increase restful sleep, improve attention and balance mood.


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