Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and it is necessary to be taken on the daily bases. The intake in adults should be 3.5 mg/kg. Both genders between 10 and 18 years of age require 3.3 mg/kg. Children between 2 and 10 years should take 12.5 mg/kg per day while infants who are not older than 2 need to take 17 mg/ kg. This amino acid can only be produced in microorganisms.
Tryptophan is present in chocolate, oats, peanuts, dried dates and bananas. Milk, dairy products, meat and fish contain this amino acid as well.
Health Benefits of Tryptophan
There are several different functions that are connected to this amino acid. Firstly, very little of total ingested tryptophan is converted into niacin or better to say vitamin B3. This process takes place in the liver. This way the deficiency of vitamin B3 is successfully evaded especially if people do not take enough food rich in niacin.
Still the most important role of tryptophan is synthesis of proteins.
In some people who cannot adequately metabolize tryptophan and are suffering from schizophrenia this amino acid has been accused of being the culprit of this mental condition. This can be easily explained by the influence of toxic substances that are actually waste products of these amino acids. Toxic substances cannot be properly metabolized and eliminated from the body. This is the reason why hallucinations and illusions occur.
Tryptophan can be also effective in people who are suffering from depression. The best option for these patients is a combination of two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine.
One more benefit of tryptophan is that it can help people who are suffering from insomnia.
In chronic alcoholics the level of tryptophan in brain is drastically low. The improper supply of brain with tryptophan also affects the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is actually derived from tryptophan. To be more precise amino acid tryptophan is a substance that is required for the synthesis of serotonin. And this is why in chronic alcoholics this neurotransmitter is not functioning properly.
Even in case of Parkinson's disease where serotonin is not functioning properly, usage of tryptophan together with L- dopa may be beneficial.
Furthermore, since neurotransmitter serotonin is essential and takes care of appetite, sleep and mood in general the obvious conclusion is that all those people who do not take the required daily doses of this amino acid may experience problems with appetite, sleep and may suffer from mood changes.
Tryptophan taken in a form of supplements is also good for reduction of anger. Aggressiveness is also easily controlled with this amino acid.