by Melissa Chichester
You might run a warm bath, unwind with a good book, or go for a run. These are all great ways to reduce stress and incite calm feelings. Nutrition also plays a role in supporting well-being and a balanced mood. Most people associate certain herbs and minerals with calm and relaxation such as magnesium and valerian root.* However, an overlooked source of support are amino acids.
Amino acids are organic compounds that are the essential building blocks of protein. They’re involved in other metabolic processes but are especially needed for protein to support normal growth and development in the human body. There are 22 amino acids and nine of them are considered “essential” amino acids because they cannot be made by the human body.
Some amino acids are also involved with neurotransmitters that are essential for communicating information between cells and in the brain. Because of this, there are several amino acids that support calm and relaxed feelings.*
You probably associate tryptophan with Thanksgiving and eating turkey. That’s because the body uses tryptophan to create serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in sending messages through the nervous system. In the body, tryptophan converts to 5-HTP, the precursor to serotonin.
5-HTP helps support a calm and relaxed mood and feelings of well-being.*
Tryptophan is one of the nine essential amino acids. Besides turkey, other foods that contain tryptophan include whole milk, eggs, cheese, and tuna.
L-methionine is an amino acid that supports the production of the antioxidant glutathione.* Methionine can also be converted into SAM-e (S-AdenosylMethionine). SAM-e is a compound that supports mood and emotional well-being.* Methionine is an essential amino acid and can be found in foods such as eggs, fish, sesame seeds, and Brazil nuts.
GABA is known for its importance in nervous system functioning and works with the mood centers of the brain.*
It also helps calm occasional feelings of stress and relaxes the mind.* GABA is actually often mistaken for an amino acid!
Glycine is the smallest amino acid. The body can make glycine from other chemicals and compounds. It is useful in many functions but is necessary for the production of DNA, glutathione, and protein.* Glycine also supports the nervous system and restful sleep.* Glycine can be found in foods such as gelatin and bone broth.