Ever heard of L-tryptophan? Probably not, although this amino acid is extremely important for your well-being. Various factors, such as stress and an unhealthy diet have a negative impact on L-tryptophan and are thus the reason for negative mood. In this article, you will see how exactly the amino acid works in your body and if your needs are actually met.
How L-tryptophan works as a natural mood enhancer
L-tryptophan is fascinating because it is rarely found in food, but at the same time takes over many important tasks in your body and metabolism. The amino acid is particularly important for one thing: it is the building block for releasing the happy hormone "serotonin". This means that L-tryptophan directly influences your mood. Thus, the better you are supplied with the amino acid L-tryptophan, the higher your levels of serotonin, and the better your mood will be. Are you interested in the happy hormone serotonin? Then we have summarized everything important and exciting for you here.
The improved supply of L-tryptophan and therefore the increase of your serotonin level can do even more good. A study at the Neurobehavioral Research Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas has now been able to bring a shortage of L-tryptophan in connection with a variety of other mental and physical health problems. Researchers have found out that L-tryptophan not only helps against mood swings but also against insomnia, stress and reduced memory performance.¹ Because L-tryptophan is in a sense, the precursor to the formation of serotonin, the body needs serotonin to form the sleep hormone melatonin at night. Thus, a deficiency of L-tryptophan is not only associated with a lack of serotonin and a worsening of your mood, but also with the so important sleep hormone, which regulates your sleep and ensures relaxation. If you sleep badly, your stress level increases, you lack energy for the day, and you find it difficult to concentrate. If you suffer from bad well-being, decreased memory performance, and insomnia, this may be an indication of a lack of L-tryptophan. The good news: Even a small increase in the amino acid ensures improvement.
Take-Home-Message #1: L-tryptophan is essential for the body and building materials for the happy hormone serotonin and the sleep hormone melatonin. If too little of the neurotransmitter is available, it leads to reduced well-being.
The key role of L-tryptophan
By increasing your level of serotonin naturally through the amino acid L-tryptophan, it can have a positive influence on various factors in relation to the mind and body. We have summarized the three most important ones here.
1. L-tryptophan and mood swings
A study by Washington University has dealt with the relationship between depression and serotonin and has now been able to show that a low level of serotonin is a major reason for mood swings and poor well-being.² Similar to the functionality of antidepressants, serotonin levels in the brain are increased. If there is too little serotonin present in the brain, which acts as a chemical neurotransmitter, then impulse conduction between neurons no longer functions correctly. The so-called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase the concentration of serotonin again. Unfortunately, serotonin cannot be absorbed as a "building material" that easily, but can only be increased through additional L-tryptophan. Therefore, you should ensure that your brain has sufficient L-tryptophan.
2. L-tryptophan and decreased memory performance
Low tryptophan levels can lead to both long-term, and short-term reduced memory performance and affect other cognitive functions. A study by the University of Bordeaux found out that tryptophan improved memory in both healthy adults and adults with memory loss.³ The principle is similar to the positive effect of tryptophan on mood. If there is too little amino acid available in the brain, then a lack of neurotransmitters will develop in the brain. You are mentally blocked, as it was because the stimulus transmission of information does no longer function properly.
3. L-tryptophan and insomnia
As already mentioned, L-tryptophan is also an important component of the sleep hormone melatonin. It is therefore just as essential as the happy hormone serotonin. If there is too little L-tryptophan present, this can lead to insomnia. Increasing the amino acid may help you go back to sleep faster, help you sleep longer in total, and help you wake up less during the night. According to recent findings, L-tryptophan promotes your restful sleep by keeping serotonin levels almost unchanged during the day, so enough melatonin can be built up when falling asleep at night.
Take-Home-Message #2: L-tryptophan plays a key role in your overall well-being. If you do not have enough supply of the amino acid, it can cause mood swings, decreased memory performance, and insomnia.
These foods have the highest proportion of L-tryptophan
If you keep a balanced diet, you will have a daily input of about 3.5 to 6 mg of tryptophan in your diet. However, each person has individual requirements. Because of this, it is recommended to incorporate as many foods with a high content of L-tryptophan into your own diet in time to prevent a possible shortage. Tryptophan is not free in foods but is always bound to proteins. Therefore, animal and vegetarian foods such as eggs, meat, cheese, fish, beans, or seeds have an extremely high protein content and are thus good for your tryptophan intake. With the preparation of these foods, you do not have to pay attention to anything special, because the amino acid is heat-resistant and not water-soluble (with the preparation of these foods, you do not have to pay attention to anything special, because the amino acid is heat-resistant. Because of the lipophile character of the amino acid, it is beneficial to take in those foods together with some fat or oil).
Here is an overview of foods with the highest tryptophan content:
- Poultry, beef, lamb
- Dairy products of all kinds (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
- Sesame, walnuts, cashews
- Oats, quinoa, brown rice
Take-Home-Message #3: L-tryptophan can be readily easily absorbed through food. The amino acid can be found especially in foods containing protein. L-tryptophan is by the way also an ingredient in our BRAINEFFECT MOOD.