After nearly 15 years' absence in Europe, L-tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids in the diet, is back – available to buy once more in an authorized nutritional supplement. A precursor of serotonin, melatonin, and niacin, tryptophan is a vitally important substance. Discovered in 1901, it has been used for decades to relieve depression, promote sleep or aid with weight loss.
What Benefits do Studies Show about L-Tryptophan?
Serotonin plays a key role in many of the body's functions, and particularly in depression, anxiety, mood, and appetite control. Many people eat excessive amounts of carbohydrates when they feel stressed, depressed, or anxious. This results in a rise in cerebral serotonin and a temporary feeling of well being and security, but at the same time, an increase in fat stores. Tryptophan supplementation improves psychological state without inducing increases in the amount of stored fat. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits and efficacy of tryptophan.
Serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, so when levels are inadequate, only supplementation with either of its two precursors – tryptophan or – can raise them effectively.
The first studies using tryptophan to influence mood were conducted in the Fifties. Tryptophan supplementation was shown to be effective and free of side-effects in subjects suffering from mild to moderate depression.
- Both on its own and combined with phototherapy, tryptophan is also an effective treatment for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
- In cases of mild insomnia, tryptophan promotes drowsiness and good quality sleep.
In 1990, its use in supplements was banned after a single contaminated batch of tryptophan supplied by one Japanese manufacturer apparently led to the development of a deadly condition. Its use in drugs, infant formulas and parenteral food products, however, continued unhindered.
What are the Differences Between L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP?
L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP are converted into serotonin following the same metabolic pathway. However, certain people react better to supplementation with L-tryptophan than with 5-HTP. This may be for a number of reasons:
- With L-tryptophan supplementation, the body maintains control over the amount of serotonin produced using the enzyme L-tryptophan hydroxylase.
- When 5-HTP is taken, some of it may find its way to the intestine where it can cause nausea. Besides, since serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, any serotonin produced outside of the brain is unable to penetrate it.
- In some individuals, certain conditions, including severe depression, can prevent the passage of 5-HTP across the blood-brain barrier – this does not happen with L-tryptophan.
L-tryptophan is available to buy in SuperSmart's catalogue, providing benefits as an essential amino acid that is crucial for healthy body function and particularly, for the production of niacin.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
|Daily serving: 2 tablets
Number of servings per bottle: 60
|Other ingredients: acacia gum, fructo-oligosaccharide.
Each tablet contains 500 mg of L-tryptophan, one of 8 essential amino acids present in the diet. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, melatonin, and niacin.
Directions for use
Adults: Take 1 to 2 tablets a day.
Do not take tryptophan alongside other substances such as 5-HTP which also increases serotonin levels, without medical supervision.
Precautions: do not exceed the recommended daily dose. This product is a nutritional supplement and should not be used as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet or a healthy lifestyle. Keep out of children’s reach. Store away from light, heat, and humidity. As with any nutritional supplement, consult a health care practitioner before use if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition.
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