Grandma's Tryptophan
Essential Amino Acid Guide

photo of a plate of cottage cheese and fruit good source of tryptophan a photo of a bowl of soybeans a good source of tryptophan photo of a pile of shelled peanuts a good source of tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is necessary for the productions of vitamin B3 and used by the brain to produce serotonin, a necessary neurotransmitter that transfers nerve impulses from one cell to another and is responsible for normal sleep. Consequently, tryptophan helps to combat depression and insomnia and to stabilize moods.

It helps to control hyperactivity in children, alleviates stress, is good for the heart, aids in weight control by reducing appetite and enhances the release of growth hormone. It is good for migraine headaches, and may reduce some of the effects of nicotine.

A sufficient amount of vitamin B6 is necessary for the formation of this essential amino acid, which in turn, is required for the formation of serotonin. A lack of tryptophan and magnesium may contribute to coronary artery spasms.

The best dietary sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, and soy protein.

L-Tryptophan Supplements
Banned in the United States

This amino acid is not available in supplement form in the United States. In November of 1989, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported evidence linking L-tryptophan supplements to a blood disorder called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Several hundred cases of this illness-which is characterized by an elevated white blood cell count and can also cause such symptoms as fatigue muscular pain, respiratory ailments, edema, and rash-were reported, and at least one death was attributed to the outbreak.

After the CDC established an association between the blood disorder and products containing L-tryptophan in New Mexico, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration first warned consumers to stop taking L-typtophan was the sole or a major component.

Subsequent research showed that it was contaminants in the supplements, not the trytophan, that was probably responsible for the problem, but this essential amino acid supplements are still banned from the market in the United States.


The statement's made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.


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