Tryptophan is one of the 22 different naturally occurring basic units of proteins (amino acids) found in the human body. Chemically, it is represented as C11H12N2O2 and is categorized as an ‘essential amino acid’. Essential amino acids are the ones that are needed by the body but are not produced within the body and are to be obtained from food.

Fortunately enough, it is a part of many food items consumed almost daily including, nuts, eggs, some dairy products, soybeans, walnuts and oats. But in comparison with other amino acids, it is the least abundant amino acid in most countries’ diets, especially North America.

Consequently, many people have started using tryptophan as a nootropic supplement for increasing and sustaining levels of tryptophan inside their bodies. The amount of tryptophan in one’s body directly affects a person’s mood and leads to healthy sleep. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is derived from tryptophan. Serotonin helps in regulating mood and appetite.

A hormone, melatonin, is responsible for regular and healthy sleep patterns and also needs tryptophan as a precursor. Tryptophan further plays an important role as a precursor for many other chemical substances needed for essential bodily functions like, Niacin – a Vitamin B, and Auxin, a phytohormone.

Tryptophan, Serotonin & Melatonin

Tryptophan is now available in the market as a dietary supplement to regulate levels of tryptophan in blood. The supplement is used by most as an anti-depressant and a sleeping aid. This is directly linked with tryptophan’s role in synthesis of serotonin. A chemically modified form of tryptophan is also being researched into to treat epilepsy.

Resorting to supplements can be very beneficial for the body and prevent many deficiency issues. Tryptophan supplements help to modulate our social actions, control our appetites and reduce anxiety as well as depression in a person. According to researchers, anxiety disorders and depression, in many cases, are caused by insufficient levels of tryptophan in body.

Tryptophan supplements are being used widely as anti-depressants with minimal side effects. The effect of limiting appetite by serotonin can help overweight people fight obesity. Tryptophan supplements are also used to synthesize Niacin, which processes lipids and carbohydrates. Individuals with bad sleeping habits can greatly benefit from these supplements. Serotonin and melatonin, derived from tryptophan, relax the body and regulate sleeping habits.

Tryptophan supplements can also prevent and fight the onslaught of some medical diseases. A research study done in 2010 showed that tryptophan can cause the prevention of steatohepatitis, which is a very common liver disease even among people who consume little or no alcohol. Tryptophan supplements have shown to improve conditions and symptoms in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. With decreasing levels of tryptophan, the symptoms of the syndrome get even more severe.

The dosage of the supplements depends on the specific purpose tryptophan is being consumed for and should be taken after consulting with a doctor. Commonly, people, especially those looking to fight depression, take between 6 to 12 grams daily, spread over a few administrations. Normally, tryptophan supplements don’t lead to side effects but still, over use is to be avoided.

Tryptophan supplements can really help people who want to improve on their anxieties, depression and sleep patterns.