If you've ever noticed yourself nodding off after a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, it may have been more than simply eating too much. It could have been caused by a little-known amino acid called tryptophan.
Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, and serotonin is well known as a sleep-inducing agent. And yes you guessed it turkey is loaded with tryptophan.
Tryptophan (and its human-friendly form, L- tryptophan) is an essential amino acid released from proteins during digestion. It is important to the normal growth of infants, and for maintaining nitrogen balance in adults. In addition to serotonin, tryptophan helps produce Vitamin B3.
- Tryptophan is a precursor for both serotonin and melatonin. After entering the body, tryptophan is converted into a non-protein amino acid, then into serotonin (a potent neurotransmitter). Consuming carbohydrates (thereby increasing the level of insulin) makes it easy for tryptophan to enter the brain and influence mood, sleep and behavior.
- Tryptophan is necessary for the production of niacin (Vitamin B3). However, in order for the body to produce niacin, it needs sufficient levels of iron, riboflavin, and Vitamin B6.
- Tryptophan is deeply involved in the body's regulation of sleep because of the serotonin it creates. Increasing tryptophan may help normalize sleep patterns.
Tryptophan also appears to be involved in such contrasting functions as:
- Menopausal health
- Neuromuscular activity in the legs
- Release of hormones
The most abundant dietary sources of tryptophan are:
The structure function claims made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These dietary supplement products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.