L-Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid which is used to create Serotonin, the "feel good" neurotransmitter. It is a gentler and slower-acting Serotonin precursor compared to 5-HTP, making it a better choice for sustained and long-term use.
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For people needing a more optimistic outlook, L-Tryptophan is a sustainable Serotonin supplement for long-term use.
L-Tryptophan is an amino acid found in high-protein foods, which is used to create Serotonin, the "feel good" neurotransmitter. Research has shown that L-Tryptophan's role in brain Serotonin synthesis is an important factor involved in mood, behaviour and cognition.
It is worth noting that Serotonin production is nutrition-dependent; Serotonin cannot be produced without the L-Tryptophan we get from high protein foods. People who don't produce enough Serotonin will typically feel "down", crave chocolate (which also provides L-Tryptophan) and can greatly benefit from either improving their diet or taking a Serotonin supplement like L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP.
These two supplements are quite similar but with one stark difference: Once ingested, L-Tryptophan is first converted into 5-HTP, which is then used to create Serotonin. Taking 5-HTP "skips" a part of the process and causes a much more immediate and uncontrolled rise of Serotonin. Since L-Tryptophan is reliant on enzymes to be converted into 5-HTP (which control how much is produced), you get a much more gentle rise and natural of Serotonin. For this reason, L-Tryptophan is considered much more sustainable to be used for the long-term as a Serotonin supplement.
"Tryptophan has been widely used in numerous research and clinical trials without incident for nearly 25 years." (University of Texas)
Benefits: Mood, Sleep
Actions:L-Tryptophan is an amino acid which is used to create 5-HTP and then Serotonin, the "feel good" neurotransmitter in the blood-stream.
Dietary sources: Foods high in protein e.g. oats, chicken, turkey. Also chocolate - click here for a list.
Who should take it: People low in Serotonin typically feel "down", crave chocolate and don't eat a lot of protein.
Quality of studies: Numerous research and clinical trials. For a recent and comprehensive review of L-Tryptophan research by the University of Texas, this study is a good read.
Time to effect: Typically within an hour.
Combine it with:Vitamin B6 to help L-Trytophan metabolise into Serotonin.
Don't combine it with: Any other Serotonin supplement or drug - this is very important to avoid desensitising your Serotonin receptors which can make you feel worse than before.
Recommended dose: 250mg - 425mg /day.
Cycling: Not required.
Studies on Mood:
L-Tryptophan's effect on mood is well documented. Notably, it is seen to have varying levels of effectiveness at lifting mood; seen to depend on (1) just how deficient a person's Serotonin levels currently are and (2) how well their body synthesises L-Tryptophan into Serotonin, the "feel good neurotransmitter".
Women are more likely to benefit than men from L-Tryptophan for mood response. (McGill University - link to study)
An Oxford University placebo-controlled study found that "Tryptophan supplementation induces a positive bias in the processing of emotional material in healthy female volunteers." (University of Oxford - link to study)
An animal study which restricted L-Tryptophan intake from diets reported increased levels of anxiety and lack of motivation during swimming tests. (Limei Zhang, MD et al - link to study)
L-Tryptophan was seen to give human subjects a feeling of calm but not sleepiness. (Winokar - link to study)
L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP were both seen to increase mood compared to placebo during human trials. (University of Queensland - link to study)
Studies on Cognition:
A University of Texas review of L-Tryptophan research prior to 2009 found that numerous experimental human studies have shown L-Tryptophan to benefit learning, memory and other cognitive processes for all kinds of people; not only people deficient in Serotonin. It's worth reading the review - here's the link.
Human subjects who had high L-Tryptophan diets prior to long-term memory tests performed better than those with deficient diets (Maastricht University - link to study)
Tests on word recognition and identifying abstract shapes found that deficient level of L-Tryptophan impaired long-term memory consolidation and problem solving (Universiteit Maastricht - link to study)
"Tryptophan depletion has also been shown to impair learning on visual discrimination and memory retrieval, episodic memory, stimulus-reward learning, and cognitive flexibility, among other cognitive processes, although more studies are needed to test the reliability of these results." (University of Texas review of numerous L-Tryptophan studies - link to the review)
Instructions on How to Take L-Tryptophan:
Recommended Dose: It is recommended to take between 250mg - 425mg per day.
Don't take another Serotonin supplement: It is very important to not take any other Serotonin supplement like 5-HTP or any anti-depressant drugs. Extremely high levels of Serotonin will cause you to desensitise to Serotonin and can also be a health risk.
Should you choose L-Tryptophan over 5-HTP?
For long-term use, use L-Tryptophan. For short-term and immediate lifts in Serotonin and mood, choose 5-HTP.
L-Tryptophan's conversion into 5-HTP is dependent on enzymes, which work to ensure that you do not produce "too much" Serotonin which can overwhelm you. 5-HTP skips this controlled conversion process and therefore causes a much more immediate rise of Serotonin.
L-Tryptophan is also used to create various proteins, whereas 5-HTP just produces Serotonin.
L-Tryptophan causes a gentler and more natural rise of Serotonin versus 5-HTP.
5-HTP causes a much more higher and immediate rise of Serotonin and can therefore only be used in the short-term to avoid desensitization.
What combines well with L-Tryptophan?
Vitamin B6 - L-Tryptophan's conversion into Serotonin requires Vitamin B6. We get Vitamin B6 from fish, beef liver and other meats including chicken (here's a list of food sources). To maximize the amount of Serotonin you produce from L-Tryptophan, taking a Vitamin B6 supplement is a good idea. We don't sell Vitamin B6 yet, but you can find it in most stores.
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