Tryptophan Is An Essential Amino Acid

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Tryptophan is an essential, exogenous amino acid (β-indolylaminopropionic acid) that is converted in the body into the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine).

Serotonin deficiency causes depression, so many antidepressant drugs contain tryptophan. The highest concentration of serotonin in the human body is found in the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and platelets. Since tryptophan is an essential amino acid, it must be supplied to the body in sufficient quantities with food proteins.

Tryptophan is found in large quantities in such foods as bananas, hard and cottage cheese, mushrooms, oats, dried dates, peanuts and peanut butter, sesame seeds, pine nuts, milk, and yogurt.

The pharmacological effect of tryptophan is manifested by an increase in serotonin levels in tissues, which leads to an increased blood supply to skeletal muscles, increased blood circulation, increased heart stroke volume, and has an antidepressant effect. It also increases small intestine peristalsis, reduces spasms of the large intestine and stomach, inhibits gastric juice secretion, and simultaneously increases gastric mucus secretion. In addition, the sensitivity of receptors increases, and motor and mental reactions slow down. Since tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, which in turn is a precursor of melatonin, a hormone responsible for the regulation of circadian rhythms, it has proven to be a good remedy for insomnia, when taken, sleep becomes deeper and dreams become more vivid.

It is a precursor of niacin, vitamin B3.

Daily dose: a healthy person needs 3.5 mg per 1 kg of tryptophan weight. The ability to increase tryptophan levels in the brain improves with the simultaneous intake of small portions of carbohydrates.

Consequences of tryptophan deficiency in the body

Signs of a deficiency of this amino acid include headaches, sadness, near-depression, nervousness, excessive fatigue, cravings for sweets, alcohol, and tobacco, insomnia, decreased concentration, and sudden weight gain.

Contraindications and harm of tryptophan

This amino acid is very important for the human body, and cases of its deficiency in the blood prevail over cases of excess. Contraindications to taking tryptophan or its restriction can only be individual intolerance or certain diseases that are identified by a doctor.

Tryptophan content in food products:

  • 100g of red caviar – 960 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of black caviar – 910 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of hard cheese – 780 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of peanuts – 750 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of almonds – 630 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of cashews – 600 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of processed cheese – 500 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of pine nuts – 420 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of pistachios – 300 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of sunflower seeds and -300 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of mackerel – 300 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of squid -320 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of rabbit and turkey meat – 330 mg of tryptophan.
  • 100g of halva -360 mg of tryptophan.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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