(NaturalNews) L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps improve sleep and reduce stress. It acts as a precursor to many neurotransmitters and neurochemicals, including serotonin and melatonin. Melatonin is known to help improve sleep, and serotonin is needed to improve mood and mental health. Many antidepressants work by regulating the uptake of serotonin. With the stresses of today's hectic world, many people are deficient in L-tryptophan. The amino acid is not found in the body so it must be added through foods of nutritional supplements.
Tryptophan's Function in the Body Tryptophan is responsible for many neurological functions in the body. It heals tissues after over-exercise and reduces jetlag. Tryptophan helps women cope with premenstrual aggravations (PMS), and it aids insomnia and promotes better sleep. It acts on weight gain or loss issues and manages growth in childhood. On the mental level, tryptophan aids depression, irritability, and anxiety and aids control over impulsive behavior.
Tryptophan Improves Sleep and Dreams Because of its interaction with melatonin, tryptophan helps improve sleep. It has even been shown to improve dream recall.
Tryptophan and Niacin Tryptophan converts to niacin in the body. Niacin is a B vitamin (B3) that helps with many functions, such as maintaining blood sugar levels and burning carbohydrates to make energy. Niacin works with the adrenal gland to make stress-reducing hormones and reduce blood cholesterol. Niacin is also important for maintaining a healthy circulatory system. A niacin deficiency causes pellagra, the symptoms of which are diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia.
High Carbohydrate Foods Contain Tryptophan High carbohydrate foods, such as grains, bread and pasta, are the best source of tryptophan. Many people have eliminated these foods from their diet; therefore, supplementation with tryptophan is needed.
Other Food Sources of Tryptophan Protein foods also contain tryptophan, such as turkey, tuna, shellfish and soy.
Tryptophan Deficiency Symptoms Symptoms of a deficiency of tryptophan can be on the mental arena, such as mood disorders, stress, and sleeplessness, or they can include symptoms similar to other protein deficiency symptoms, such as delayed growth. People with a tryptophan deficiency can experience craving for carbohydrates, or weight gain and issues with overeating.
Side Effects of Tryptophan There are no known upper limits to the amount of tryptophan that can be taken. Doses up to five grams (5,000 mg) daily have shown side effects. People on anti-depressants, or other SSRI drugs, should consult with a medical professional because tryptophan interacts with serotonin and may cause a change in the function of the medication.
Melanie Grimes is a writer, award-winning screenwriter, medical journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. She also teaches homeopathy at the Seattle School of Homeopathy and the American Homeopathic Medical College. A trained homeopath, she is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, and has edited alternative and integrative medical journals for 15 years. She has taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA and authored medical textbooks. Her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at: http://melanie-grimes.blogspot.com/2009/04/b... Follow her blog at http://melanie-grimes.blogspot.com/ www.melaniegrimes.com