Tryptophan is one of the 23 proteinogenic (protein building) amino acids found in nature. Humans need this nutrient as an important component to process proteins and to synthesize the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
Tryptophan is one of nine “essential” amino acids for humans. Essential amino acids are necessary for various body functions; however, the body cannot produce these compounds internally. Essential amino acids, including Tryptophan, must be obtained through the diet or dietary supplements.
Including red meat, eggs, poultry, fish, chickpeas, almonds, peanuts, cottage cheese, and milk.
However, Tryptophan is often the least plentiful amino acid in the standard North American diet. Also, research has found that increasing dietary Tryptophan is unlikely to increase Tryptophan concentrations in the blood.
Additionally, the amount of dietary Tryptophan, or its metabolites like5-HTP, that can cross the barrier separating the bloodstream and the brain is limited. Other amino acids from food protein sources use the same transport channels across the blood-brain barrier as Tryptophan uses. This limits the amount of Tryptophan that can enter the brain.
Purified Tryptophan supplements have been shown to increase the amount of Serotonin in the brain, while eating Tryptophan rich foods does not always have an effect. As such, many individuals have started using Tryptophan supplements to increase levels of Serotonin in the brain, which may result in improved mood and better sleep patterns.
Tryptophan is not soluble in water and also possesses a notable resistance to heat, making it a very durable compound. It also has a high degree of bioavailability.
Tryptophan has nootropic qualities insofar, it may increase restful sleep, improve focus, and balance the mood.