Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. That means that the body cannot produce on its own and has to be supplied with food. Its main properties consist in enhancing the functioning of the nervous system, and its deficiency manifests itself in decreased energy and bad mood, and may even lead to depression. In turn, an excess of tryptophan in the body may cause drowsiness, nausea, and problems with vision. It is worth taking care of its proper level in the body because tryptophan determines good mood and well-being.
This amino acid has the following functions in the body
- participates in the production of serotonin – the hormone of happiness
- it takes part in the production of melatonin - a hormone responsible for sleep
- reduces hyperactivity and mental tension
- regulates metabolism
- strengthens immunity
- influences proper functioning of eyes
- affects lactation in women
Tryptophan is also recommended for people looking to reduce body fat, as well as those working on gaining muscle mass. Tryptophan together with arginine stimulates the production of somatotropin (growth hormone) and influences lipolysis (the process of breaking down fat). It is also worth mentioning that this amino acid has the ability to suppress appetite and therefore it is recommended for people losing weight.
Tryptophan for sleep
Tryptophan contributes to the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the diurnal cycle. The correct level of melatonin is very important because it regulates the body's biological clock which makes us awake during the day and asleep at night. Too little melatonin concentration in the body causes insomnia. Scientific research has confirmed that tryptophan supplementation contributes to a better quality of sleep. Taking it is a very good way to relax and increase sleep quality.
Tryptophan – where we can find it?
Tryptophan can be found in natural foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, pulses, parmesan cheese, spinach, bananas, and spirulina. In addition, it can also be found in dietary supplements. It is worth knowing that eating food that contains tryptophan probably does not have a direct impact on serotonin levels in the body. This is due to its too small amount in relation to other amino acids. Thus, the best way to supply tryptophan to the body for its effects to have the desired effect is through dietary supplements. When using supplementation, it is advisable to consult a doctor, because the incorrect dosage can result in health deterioration.
Tryptophan can be very beneficial for us, however, it is worth remembering that it should be correctly supplemented. As we wrote above, both its lack and excess may bring negative effects. Tryptophan has a relatively wide range of effects, but undoubtedly it mainly benefits the nervous system.