To start the day well, our sleep quality plays an important role. A long and uninterrupted REM phase allows us to complete our tasks more efficiently the next day and our mood does not sink into the basement so quickly. L-tryptophan is an amino acid responsible for the synthesis of the "happiness hormone" serotonin. Without this hormone, we might have trouble falling asleep and it is also directly linked to our mood.
In this article, we have written together the most important scientific information for you so that you can learn more about this relevant amino acid and make the best possible decision when making your purchase.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best L-Tryptophan: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying L-tryptophan
- 5 Decision: What types of L-tryptophan are there and which is right for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate L-tryptophan
- 7 Facts worth knowing about L-tryptophan
The most important facts
- L-tryptophan is a key element for our mental as well as physical health. This amino acid supports the synthesis of many substances that sustain our bodies. We find these ingredients in protein-rich foods.
- Over time, this amino acid has been studied and analysed. Many results indicate that taking L-tryptophan can improve sleep quality and mood.
- In the literature and in scientific papers, L-tryptophan is also written without L, because the other form (D-tryptophan) is often of little importance.
The Best L-Tryptophan: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying L-tryptophan
What is L-tryptophan?
It plays an important role in many metabolic processes. Some of these are:
- Melatonin synthesis: This influences your sleep rhythm as well as your digestive processes and gastrointestinal motility.
- Serotonin synthesis: Even though only 1% of the ingested L-tryptophan is destined for our brains, it has a strong effect on our psychiatric state and psychological processes.
- Tryptamine synthesis: serves to control the balance between excitatory and inhibitory functions of serotonin (1).
What are the effects of L-tryptophan?
With L-tryptophan you can also determine your own sleep rhythm, because it can effectively promote sleep phases even if they do not coincide with your biological rhythm (3). For people suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS), taking L-tryptophan has also shown positive effects. The breathing disorders were alleviated and thus their REM phase was prolonged and their REM latency reduced (4).
For women suffering from PMS, a dinner high in L-tryptophan and carbohydrates relieved their pain, depression, anger and fatigue the next day. In comparison, the other group had only a high-carbohydrate dinner where the changes did not show up (5). Because of its role in serotonin synthesis, L-tryptophan has also been linked to promoting a better mood.
It is also claimed by some that L-tryptophan helps with weight loss. This effect has not been adequately studied. The results of many studies yielded contradictory results. In the study published in the "Journal of Obesity Studies", the weight loss of the overweight subjects was not significant enough to directly link this decrease to the intake of L-tryptophan (6).
This statement could have spread because serotonin receptors block the craving for carbohydrates, which can subsequently lead to weight loss. However, it must be taken into account that with a high-protein and low-carbohydrate meal, the body supplies itself with other amino acids that compete with L-tryptophan. So the brain is supplied with less L-tryptophan and therefore less serotonin is produced (7).
Why is L-tryptophan important?
In addition, L-tryptophan is necessary for the "sleep hormone" melatonin and for the synthesis of nicotinic acid.
Nicotinic acid is involved in the activation of all the enzymes found in our body and thus it regulates many processes that should happen in our body (1).
What is the right dosage of L-tryptophan?
It has been calculated that we normally consume between 0.5 to 2 grams of L-tryptophan per day through a healthy diet and even this small amount improves our sleep quality. The quality of our deep sleep will be improved by the intake of only 1/4 gram (250 milligrams) (10)
To improve and prolong the REM phase for people who have sleep disordered breathing (OSAS), taking 2.5 grams of L-tryptophan, preferably before bedtime, is sufficient (11)
When taking L-tryptophan and additionally 5-HTP (5 hydroxy tryptophan), the dosage should be reduced.
Since both amino acids cause an increase in serotonin levels, this combination can lead to an excess of serotonin in the brain, which can have negative effects (12).
What are the possible side effects of L-tryptophan?
There are no side effects if you only get your L-tryptophan intake from food.
No side effects have been found for breastfeeding women either. In 2015, a study published in the Journal of European Neuropsychopharmacology showed that L-tryptophan supplements maintain normal L-tryptophan levels in breast milk. Therefore, there is no danger for the baby (13).
For pregnant women, however, it has not yet been established whether taking L-tryptophan supplements is safe. So it is best to talk to your doctor first or not to take L-tryptophan supplements.
Who should take L-tryptophan supplements?
People who want to improve their sleep patterns can also take L-tryptophan supplements. Better sleep quality affects mood and moodiness. The length and quality of sleep have been linked to the maintenance of a positive mood (15). Pregnant women should avoid L-tryptophan supplements for the time being, because their effects on the baby have not yet been classified as "safe".
Decision: What types of L-tryptophan are there and which is right for you?
With L-tryptophan intake coming exclusively from food, there will usually be no overdose. But for people who need a higher concentration of this amino acid, the following options are on the market. The next few lines should help you make the best decision.
What distinguishes L-tryptophan in capsules and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
When taking the L-tryptophan amino acid in capsules, the substance is better absorbed by our bodies.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of powdered L-tryptophan?
When taking powder, it is also possible to mix it with yoghurt or muesli.
What distinguishes L-tryptophan as an oral spray and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
You often need to shake it well before use so that the other ingredients are well mixed. The mouth spray works faster than another dosage form. The sprayed substance comes into contact with your oral mucosa immediately, which means there is no digestion process and the substance enters your bloodstream immediately.
Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate L-tryptophan
Since this ingredient improves important functions of our body, you can find it on the market in various forms.
If you are stressed about work or university and find it difficult to fall asleep, you can use the capsules, powder or oral spray. All three forms will improve the quality of your sleep. One important difference is that the mouth spray works faster because it doesn't have to be digested first like the other forms.
Since the correct dosage depends greatly on your body composition, age and weight, it is not the same for everyone. If you decide to take the powder, you can calculate it yourself and take the exact amount. With capsules, the daily requirement is already determined and you are therefore less flexible with the dosage.
All three options have their advantages and disadvantages, which have already been explained above. Only your opinion is important here. Some people don't get on with the capsules and for others it's no problem. So just choose the option that suits you best.
Facts worth knowing about L-tryptophan
Which foods contain L-tryptophan?
L-tryptophan is one of the amino acids that can be supplied by certain foods or preparations, because our body cannot produce it itself. Certain foods have higher levels of L-tryptophan and we have listed these for you in a table with their corresponding concentration.
|Food||L-tryptophan (mg) content per 100 grams|
(source: vitalstoff-lexikon. de).de) (16).
Fruits and vegetables usually contain little L-tryptophan. Some vegetables with higher L-tryptophan are kale with 64 mg and chanterelles with 48 mg.
When is the best time to take L-tryptophan?
The manufacturers of L-tryptophan supplements have a recommendation written on the packaging or their website. They usually recommend taking the supplements or capsules 30 minutes or just before bedtime.
Image source: Piotrkt/ 123rf.com
Autoren: Dawn M Richard, Michael A Dawes, Charles W Mathias, Ashley Acheson, Nathalie Hill-Kapturczak, and Donald M Dougherty
Autor: Hartmann E, Spinweber CL.
Autor: Schmidt HS.
Autor: Schmidt HS.
Autor: Wurtman JJ, Brzezinski A, Wurtman RJ, Laferrere B.
Autor: Strain GW, Strain JJ, Zumoff B.
Autor: Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ.
Autor: Buhot MC, Martin, S.
Autor: United Nations University
Autor: Hartmann E, Spinweber CL.
Autor: Schmidt HS.
Autor: Volpie-Abadie, J., Kaye A.
Autor: Dowlati Y, Ravindran AV, Maheux M, Steiner M, Stewart DE, Meyer JH.
Autor: Ledochowski M, Widner B, Propst-Braunsteiner T, Vogel W, Sperner-Unterweger B, Fuchs D.
Autor: Silber BY1, Schmitt JA.
Autor: Doc Medicus