It is very likely that like most people, you are going through a state of depression, or perhaps you are stressed because you could not fall asleep the night before; or you just want to eat a lot of sweet; Like chocolate; divine chocolate that calms that feeling of anxiety; you will ask yourself: why are the words: depression, stress, sleep, chocolate and anxiety practically together in these lines?
The answer is in an amino acid that is able to calm everything mentioned, from depression to anxiety; It is about tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin, but that unfortunately your body does not produce and you must acquire it with your diet.
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Besides playing an important role in serotonin; It is also capable of converting into niacin, a vitamin of group B that is essential in metabolism and to keep the nervous system in the best state ; But for the body to do this you must have an additional supply of iron and riboflavin.
You must know all the benefits that tryptophan has for you: lose weight, for blood pressure, for hypothyroidism, for sleep, for depression; and also know its side effects and the recommended dosage. Next I will present you everything related to this amino acid.
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What is tryptophan?
It is one of the amino acids that the body does not produce; so it is called essential amino acid ; one that must be supplied by the person through a diet rich in tryptophan. Thanks to him, the metabolic function of serotonin, melatonin and niacin is fulfilled, discovered by Sir Frederick Growland in 1901, where his discovery led him to study all the benefits of this amino acid, especially that of being able to allow you to sleep. pleasant all night long.
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How does it work in the body?
Tryptophan works in the body through a process of metabolism where it is incorporated into the proteins of the body tissue , it is converted into serotonin and niacin, or it is also transformed by two specific enzymes; but when the enzyme is increased by states of inflammation as with HIV infection, tryptophan can no longer be converted into serotonin or melatonin and it will not be incorporated as a protein.
The body requires vitamin B6, iron, magnesium and riboflavin to be able to synthesize into serotonin and niacin; After being absorbed, your body will have internal changes that will be noticed on the outside.
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Why is tryptophan essential for the body?
Tryptophan is essential for your body, since with it you will fight the deficit of niacin, and in the same way, the low level of serotonin that sooner or later will bring serious consequences such as: alterations of the nervous system, insomnia, growth disorders in the children, cancer, depression, even bad habits due to the anxiety caused by the lack of serotonin.
As if that were not enough, it is also essential because without tryptophan in your body you could have a desire to eat a lot of carbohydrates and sweets in bulk; which will lead you to gain weight, and this in turn will make you feel bad then you could enter a depressive state, your libido level could decrease, or in the case of men they could have premature ejaculation since this is controlled with the brain, and the lack of tryptophan will interrupt the transmission of the signal you want to send to lengthen the duration.
Even the change in mood and aggressiveness or sensitivity to your social environment could be due to the deficit of tryptophan, which is what helps you generate serotonin, with which your life becomes happier and easier.
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Where is tryptophan found?
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Biochemical structure of tryptophan
The biochemical structure of this amino acid is: C11H12N2O2, with a molecular mass of 204.3; Its chemical name is 2 -Amino -3 indolylpropionic acid and its CAS number is 73-22-3.
The biosynthesis of tryptophan is the mechanism by which the aromatic rings are constituted from aliphatic precursors, and the carbon is linked to the aromatic part through a methylene carbon and the R group of tryptophan has a heterocyclic structure that receives the name of Indole.
One of the main characteristics of tryptophan as an essential amino acid is that it allows the brain to produce the neurotransmitter known as serotonin . It also has the following characteristics:
- Serotonin is what produces melatonin, which is vital for your daily wakefulness and sleep; And when you have a low level of this, tryptophan is what helps you regulate the levels.
- Tryptophan could have antidepressant effects.
- It is anxiolytic.
- Control appetite and anxiety.
- It is anti stress.
- Control your bad mood
- Contributes to the formation of vitamin B3.
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What is the brand name for tryptophan?
Tryptophan is known by different trade names, and each product made with this active principle will be identified as: Tryptophan (77), or L-Tryptophan (77), their names are the following:
- Aminoplasmal B,
- N-Hepa IV,
- Clinimix N12g20,
- Fleet Pku Avant,
- Freamine Hbc,
- Fresubin Jucy Drink,
- Glamin, Isoplasmal,
- Count G13%,
- Nutriflex Lipid Peri,
- utrineal Pd4,
- Oliclinomel N4-550e,
- Olimel N5e,
- Periolimel N4e,
- Synthamin 14,
- Vamin 14.
Tryptophan benefits and uses
Tryptophan has many benefits, and the main one is; that balances serotonin levels, by doing this all the other benefits are due to the increase of this hormone among which are:
- It causes the release of prolactin and growth hormone.
- Improves mood, anxiety and even depression.
- It controls appetite, learning, and even memory and sexual desire.
- It favors the cardiovascular functions, and the muscular contractions.
- Regulates endocrine hormones.
- Improves the motility of the gastrointestinal system.
- It is a natural antidepressant
- It produces niacin, the vitamin you need to metabolize food into energy.
Other benefits of tryptophan are losing weight, quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure, treating hypothyroidism among others that I will mention later.
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It helps you lose weight
Thanks to the serotonin that besides granting calm and relaxation; it also takes care of people’s appetites and anxiety; When you need to lose weight, the safest thing is that they make you want to eat more than you normally ate, a whole mental process that works in reverse; it’s like your brain wanting to betray you. In order for this feeling of anxiety to disappear, you must consume an appropriate diet rich in tryptophan.
In addition, the lack of tryptophan could have low serotonin levels, which will make you want to eat a lot of carbohydrates, especially chocolate, and this will lead to weight gain and to control this it is better that you consume tryptophan in your daily diet .
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Benefits to quit smoking
For the same reason of its anxiolytic effect, the detoxification process will be effective and more bearable for you when you quit smoking. One of the reasons why people do not want to quit this habit is not precisely the addiction to nicotine, but the fear of gaining weight and going through all the short and long-term consequences after quitting.
However when you are taking, or consuming tryptophan; This fear disappears, because the effect it will have on you is to calm your anxiety so much because of the lack of the drug (that your brain begins to miss it and sends a “signal” that it is time to start smoking, due to the smell smoke, or a place, a joke from a friend, or an image) such as the desire to eat that they will give you to replace what you lack and it is your brain that wants to control you, but the tryptophan that activates the neurotransmitter It will make you feel good and sure of yourself when you are going through this stage.
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Did you know that it lowers blood pressure?
Although the disease is mostly due to hereditary dispositions; There are other factors that can cause you a rise in tension, such as: obesity, stress, uncontrolled alcohol consumption, and excess salt in food; also the lack of physical activity and the lack of peaceful sleep.
For when this happens, the treatment with natural tryptophan or the commercial supplement will help you lower the pressure because your body will enter a calm state , and by not having stress, or any other cause that can cause a rise in tension then your blood pressure will be low or normal. The dose to treat yourself with tryptophan as a supplement or capsules should be consulted with your doctor.
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It is good for gastritis
Serotonin, despite being a neurotransmitter, is produced in a large part in the intestine, this will improve digestion by being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, and its passage through there will alleviate any symptoms of gastritis that you have, because it decreases the secretion of mucus by the gastric gland,
How does it work in hypothyroidism?
Tryptophan helps to synthesize vitamin B3, which in turn is necessary to metabolize food; When you have hypothyroidism, you use energy more slowly, so that your metabolism also slows down, and thanks to the function of tryptophan, your body will be able to metabolize as it normally does and your vital energy will return. On the other hand, its function will also help you combat the symptoms of this condition such as: depression, muscle stiffness, mental slowness, fatigue, sleep problems, lack of concentration and memory, anxiety disorders.
Why does it help you sleep?
Tryptophan helps you sleep due to the serotonin that is secreted thanks to this amino acid , so this hormone will stimulate melatonin , which is responsible for improving the quality of sleep.
Without melatonin it would not be possible to sleep during the night hours as you usually do since, it is the one that is responsible for inducing you to sleep, it also helps to free you from stress due to emotional disorders, fatigue from travel, neutralizing the effects of tension and taking you to best resting place you can have , a quiet and deep sleep .
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How does it work in pregnancy?
The use of tryptophan as a commercial supplement; not really recommended for pregnant women ; However, the one of natural origin does not present any contraindication as long as you maintain a healthy diet without excesses.
The reasons for the use of tryptophan not recommended in pregnancy is that it could cause harm to the fetus, it is considered by specialists unsafe, because it could cross the barriers of the placenta without being able to limit the dose that the fetus will ingest through the mother , which would lead to the interruption of the brain development of the fetus.
Although the fetus requires this neurotransmitter to develop its healthy neural circuits, the placenta will supply what it needs through the foods of plant or animal origin that the mother eats. This is why you should not take tryptophan as an artificial supplement, but rather consume it naturally.
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DURING BREASTFEEDING, WHAT EFFECTS DOES IT HAVE?
This amino acid during the lactation stage will be created from what you consume; with more concentration in the first weeks, especially in colostrum , and it will have an effect similar to that of adults on your newborn baby, that of regulating your baby’s sleep and behavior . Even if you think you will put your baby to sleep by taking artificial tryptophan, this is not the case; Breast milk will not increase its dose for the infant, it will only relax you, meeting your needs while your body returns to normal after becoming a mother. However, the concentration of prolactin will increase, and you will have more food for your baby on demand.
Is it good for anxiety?
Having low blood levels of tryptophan could have many consequences; among them, the decrease in serotonin and niacin, which will increase anxiety attacks. Niacin and serotonin work as anxiolytics to maintain and prevent anxiety.
Does it work as an antidepressant?
Other consequences of having low tryptophan levels is depression , and serotonin is also responsible for alleviating this disease, which is usually common in older people and accelerates their aging. Although today, adolescents are very prone to suffer from depression even to suicide.
When you consume tryptophan it will be transformed into serotonin, and this will alleviate or prevent the signs of depression , it is a natural antidepressant that induces a state of calm and happiness, improves your bad mood and as you already know it will help you sleep so that when you wake up you feel in the best of spirits.
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How does it work in bulimia?
Everything your brain is capable of simply has no limits, but it can be controlled by a neurotransmitter such as serotonin. What does this information have to do with bulimia ?; In that if this disease occurs as a psychological eating disorder this neurotransmitter that you get thanks to tryptophan; it can control you due to its anxiolytic and antidepressant effects; so your binges and then your regret for having eaten so much will not make you want to vomit everything.
How does it work in babies?
Tryptophan in babies must be supplied through food and naturally, this will help them grow , it works by means of the B vitamin known as niacin and serotonin, which work together; one to metabolize the food you give your baby and transform it into energy that he will use up while learning and playing; and the other so that their sleep hours are calmer and longer, in this way, while they sleep pleasantly they will grow and develop both physically and mentally.
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Is it better before or after eating?
If you are going to consume it from natural sources then it will be “during” and preferably that these foods are at breakfast, so that you have energy; Of course, an hour after getting up, don’t wait too long to have breakfast, and if you want to sleep happily then during dinner you can also consume foods rich in tryptophan; but if you are going to ingest it as a supplement then it is better to do it after meals; at snacks .
Contraindications and side effects
It is contraindicated for people who have liver or kidney disease ; also for people with a high level of white cells known as eosinophilia and if you have fibromyalgia you should not take tryptophan either.
It is contraindicated in pregnancy, and you cannot use it if you are taking other supplements with anxiolytics or that may cause drowsiness.
If you have any of the following symptoms as side effects, consult your doctor:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Swelling of the face, lips, or throat.
- Physical exhaustion for no reason.
- Pain in the back, shoulders or legs.
- Tingling sensation at night
- Muscle spasms
- Hair loss.
- Dizziness and vomiting
- Gas and diarrhea.
- Lack of sexual appetite
- Blurry vision.
Tryptophan and magnesium how do they work together?
In order to fulfill its mission, tryptophan requires an ally that is magnesium, and its function is to help tryptophan in the formation of neurotransmitters, that is, magnesium contributes to the creation of serotonin.
When your body lacks this mineral, you will always feel tired since magnesium has a relaxing effect on the muscles and if you do not have its effects you will always feel exhausted; Add this relaxation of the body with the state that tryptophan provides you through serotonin then you will obtain a dream happiness, with a body charged with energy because it could be relaxed while your mind was also relaxed; thanks to the joint work of magnesium and tryptophan.
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Tryptophan and alcohol are there risks?
Of course there are risks, you cannot mix alcohol with a component like tryptophan that will make you drowsy. In addition , alcohol interferes with the production of tryptophan, but if you mix them you could have aggressive behaviors as if you were under the influence of a powerful drug.
Recommended daily dose
If you consume it in food, you could consume a daily dose of 3.5 milligrams for each kilogram of your body mass, or about 250 milligrams daily.
If you consume it as a supplement, it is advisable to go from 500 milligrams daily to 1500 milligrams before going to bed preferably.
Indications and drug interactions
It is indicated for depression, anxiety, insomnia among other conditions.
Since L. tryptophan causes drowsiness, interaction with sedatives of another type , or other brands, are contraindicated ; because you would have much more sleepiness than you want. Especially the following medications: clonazepam, phenobarbital, lorazepam, zolpidem among others.
You should not take L tryptophan with Dextromethorphan since it also affects serotonin and this excess would cause serious consequences such as heart problems. Another medicine to avoid is: Robitussin DM and Phenothiazines ; this combination could cause movement disorders.
If you are taking antidepressants such as: Prozac, paroxetine, clomipramine , this would cause an excess of the substance that should calm your anxiety, and the effect would be reversed causing the opposite effect and would even increase your depression. So you should not take tryptophan if you are taking antidepressants.
What foods contain tryptophan?
I will provide you with the list of foods that have tryptophan below; not without first reminding you that for a better effect and absorption of this amino acid; you should also consume vitamin B6, iron, magnesium and riboflavin.
You will mainly get it in meats, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products; It is found in practically all foods rich in protein, also in nuts and legumes.
Liver of animal origin, especially beef, contains a small reserve of tryptophan, while; the seafood will bring about a 7gramos per kilogram. Cooked 4 grams yellow fin provides 0.38 grams of tryptophan; salmon for every 4 grams of cooked portion provides about 0.33 grams of tryptophan.
Chicken, turkey, beef and pork are also sources that provide tryptophan naturally without the need for artificial supplements: white meat will provide you 0.34 grams, on the other hand, beef and pork will provide you 0.39 grams of tryptophan, a couple percentage more than white meat.
It is known that foods of animal origin are richer in protein, and more recommended. However, in legumes and vegetables in general you will also get tryptophan but in less quantity, for example cooked soybeans will provide you with about 0.14 grams of tryptophan: black and red grains will provide 0.18 grams of this essential amino acid; everything is in being able to combine foods of plant origin with those of animal origin and thus you will obtain the required dose of tryptophan day by day.
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Natural source of tryptophan
The foods described above will provide you with tryptophan in a natural way, however I will mention some that I did not include in those of vegetable origin; and it is cocoa and sugar, the rich combination that gives rise to chocolate : this is perfect to make your body absorb tryptophan more easily, and it will help you increase the level of serotonin and calm the craving for carbohydrates , it contains caffeine, and phenylethylamine, the ingredients that will have an exciting and stimulating effect on you, along with tryptophan, you will be and feel happier than ever.
In addition, the banana provides the body with minerals necessary for you to feel the effect of tryptophan and niacin more effectively, the banana will provide you with energy and contain a low amount of tryptophan; pineapple is also a stimulant that will help with the effects of tryptophan, because it has components that also calm anxiety and nerves. And finally the hot chili , because when you feel the itch on your tongue, the brain releases endorphins and together with tryptophan you will feel relief and calm in any symptoms you have of stress, anxiety and even depression.
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Recommendations for taking tryptophan as a supplement
Tryptophan as a supplement has been marketed in recent years; If you consider that your symptoms do not improve with the consumption of tryptophan in a natural way, then you can choose to buy this supplement. I recommend that you do not exceed the doses that I described above, reminding you that this supplement can preferably be taken before going to bed, if you exceed the dose then you could have serotonin syndrome as a consequence , and you could die if you are not careful or if you combine it with the above mentioned medications also like prozac .
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- TRYPTOPHAN Magnesium, Vitamins B6, B5, B3 and Melatonin – Aquisana. 60 tablets. Ideal for regulating the state of mind, psychological functioning, the nervous system and falling asleep.
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- Navit Plus L-Tryptophan. Tryptophan 500 mg + B6 + B3 + B2 + Melatonin. 60 vegetable capsules, treatment for 2 months. The perfect food supplement to regulate sleep, anxiety and mood.
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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.