Tryptophan is an essential amino acid for the formation and maintenance of muscles and the production of serotonin and melatonin, compounds that act in the nervous system, helping to regulate mood, sleep, memory, and appetite, and is used in the treatment and prevention of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and in the weight loss process.
Since it is an essential amino acid, that is, one that the body cannot produce, tryptophan must be obtained from the ingestion of foods such as bitter chocolate, nuts, eggs, and almonds, for example. See other tryptophan-rich foods.
In addition, tryptophan can also be obtained through supplementation, such as 5HTP, or L-tryptophan, in capsules. However, these supplements should be consumed only under the guidance of a nutritionist or physician.
What it is used for?
Tryptophan is an amino acid that participates in several functions in the body, and is indicated for:
- Fight depression;
- Form and maintain the muscles
- Control anxiety
- Promote well being;
- Improve memory;
- Decrease stress;
- Regulate sleep;
- Assisting weight loss.
In addition, tryptophan is also used to help treat pain, attention deficit, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue, and PMS.
The neurotransmitter serotonin helps in the formation of the hormone melatonin which regulates the rhythm of the body’s biological clock, improving the quality of sleep, since melatonin is produced during the night.
List of tryptophan-rich foods
Some foods that are rich in tryptophan are:
- Brazil Nuts;
In addition, tryptophan can also be found in the form of supplements, such as 5-HTP, or L-tryptophan, in capsules, and the intake of 100mg to 3 g per day is indicated, according to the situation to be treated. Understand how to use the tryptophan supplement.
Does tryptophan help me lose weight?
Tryptophan participates in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes anxiety and depression control, reducing compulsive eating, and helping to lose weight. See how to use tryptophan to help you lose weight.
Food is often related to emotions, and therefore moments of anxiety and depression can stimulate the ingestion of foods that promote pleasure, such as foods rich in carbohydrates and fats, including chocolates, ice cream, cakes, and fried foods, for example, increasing the calories in the diet and thus favoring weight gain.
Recommended daily intake
The daily tryptophan intake varies according to age, gender, and life stage, as indicated in the following table:
- Cheese Dairy products are good sources of tryptophan. Like milk, cheese, yogurt, butter. In addition, they are rich in protein, vitamins such as vitamin A, D, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and natural fats. Yogurts have probiotics that also help in balancing the intestinal microbiota by improving the colony of positive bacteria. A healthy gut will contribute to the production of serotonin, since the gut is responsible for 90% of the body’s serotonin.
- Oilseeds (walnuts, peanuts, chestnuts, and almonds) The oilseeds are the group of seeds such as walnuts, peanuts, and almonds, which besides being rich in tryptophan, helping the serotonin levels, have polyunsaturated fats that contribute to a good functioning of the heart, besides helping the liver due to the amount of selenium, an extremely antioxidant mineral.
- Fish have a good amount of tryptophan, and species such as hake, salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring have good amounts of omega-3s, which help improve memory and concentration, and help in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
- Avocado has excellent health benefits, with vitamin C, E, K, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. It contains good fats such as moinsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like omega-3, which helps protect the heart, reduces inflammatory processes, is antioxidant, and strengthens the immune system.
- Banana The darling of those who practice physical activity, the banana is rich in vitamins such as B2, B6, and C, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. It has low calories and a relatively good amount of tryptophan compared to other fruits. The banana combined with semi-sweet chocolate at dinner stimulates the production of serotonin. In conclusion, tryptophan is an essential amino acid for health, it is responsible for processes that involve the sleep cycle, hormonal control, mood, among others.
Its consumption must be in balance in the diet, avoiding the deficiencies of this mineral. Supplementation is welcome for the treatment of pathologies such as depression and anxiety, and should be accompanied by a doctor in cases of exceeding the maximum levels stipulated by the Ministry of Health.
In addition, pregnant women need to ingest 7 mg / kg body weight of tryptophan per day. Breastfeeding women, on the other hand, should consume 9 mg / kg body weight of tryptophan per day.