Tryptophan: see what foods to find and the benefits

Food has an important weight for the maintenance of the organism – be it in the physical or mental aspect. A good example of this is Tryptophan, which has gained prominence in nutrition.

It is an important amino acid, which has a role in regulating sleep and well-being. Do you want to know how to take advantage of this substance and have complete health? Check it out in the text:

What is tryptophan and what is its function?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that together with vitamin B3 (niacin) helps in the production of serotonin . And this neurotransmitter is popularly known as the “happiness hormone” for improving mood and providing well-being to the body.

Serotonin also regulates heart rate, body temperature and cognitive functions. Therefore, at low levels in the body it causes a bad mood, increases anxiety and symptoms of depression .

Thus, tryptophan is a fundamental amino acid for the proper functioning of the body. But as the organism does not produce it, it is necessary to consume frequently the foods that contain it to enjoy its benefits. It is also possible to acquire it through supplementation in capsules.

What are the benefits of tryptophan?

The main benefit of tryptophan is to promote the body’s well-being. Research shows that changes in the level of serotonin in the brain can alter mood. Therefore, the consumption of foods that are sources of tryptophan can be quite beneficial for those who are feeling discouraged or suffer from depression, for example.

In addition, tryptophan is also a precursor to the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for regulating sleep. In this way, the amino acid contributes to more peaceful nights of sleep.

A survey of middle-aged people showed that those who ate cereals enriched with tryptophan for breakfast and dinner slept quickly and for longer compared to those who ate conventional cereals.

For athletes or people who want to increase muscle mass, the amino acid can be used to improve performance in training by giving more energy during physical activity. It also helps in feeling full and can contribute to weight control.

Here are other benefits:

  • Relief of symptoms of depression and anxiety;
  • Increased emotional well-being;
  • Increased pain tolerance;
  • Decreases the symptoms of Premenstrual Tension (PMS), such as irritability in women;
  • It promotes well-being in those who are trying to quit smoking;
  • Decreases stress;
  • Relieves symptoms of hyperactivity;
  • Improves memory and learning;
  • Decreases the symptoms of insomnia;
  • Decreases fatigue and tiredness;
  • It can improve performance in sports.

Is it good for anxiety?

Yes. People who suffer from anxiety disorders can benefit from foods containing tryptophan or even supplementation.

What is known is that a deficiency of tryptophan in the body can lead to lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which results in mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Serotonin acts directly on the brain, regulating anxiety, increasing the feeling of well-being and improving mood.

However, it is worth mentioning that in cases of anxiety disorder, tryptophan is not a substitute for medical and psychological treatment and monitoring.

What foods are high in tryptophan?

There are a variety of foods that are sources of tryptophan, however this amino acid is found mainly in those that are rich in protein . Foods rich in iron, riboflavin, vitamin B6 also tend to contain large amounts of this amino acid.

See details below which foods contain the most tryptophan to include most often in the diet.

  • Chicken;
  • Eggs;
  • Cheeses;
  • Fish;
  • Turkey breast;
  • Roasted peanuts;
  • Pumpkin seeds;
  • Nuts;
  • Share;
  • Chestnuts;
  • Oat;
  • Integral rice;
  • Milk;
  • Tofu;
  • Soy;
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder;
  • Avocado;
  • Banana;
  • Bean;
  • Strawberry;
  • Melon;
  • Pineapple;
  • Dehydrated apricot;
  • Pea;
  • Lean meats;
  • Red wine.

It is worth mentioning that in order for tryptophan to be converted into serotonin, the body needs iron, vitamin B6 and B2. Therefore, it is important to consume foods with the amino acid frequently, but within a balanced diet.

Read more: Egg diet: how to do it

Tryptophan supplement: how to take the capsules?

Generally, the indication for adults is to take a few capsules daily. They should be administered in divided doses three or four times a day. Two capsules can be taken before lunch and two capsules before an afternoon snack or dinner, for example. Those who wish to have a more peaceful sleep should also eat before going to sleep.

But the dose can vary according to the problem presented and the person’s age. Therefore, it is important to consult a health specialist before starting supplementation with the amino acid.

Need a recipe?

No. The tryptophan supplement does not need a prescription. Although it is easily found in pharmacies, drugstores and health food stores, it is important to check with a doctor before starting supplementation on your own.

This guidance is necessary especially if the person has a health problem that needs medical attention such as heart problems or taking other medications such as antidepressants.

Healthcare professionals can also indicate the appropriate daily amount and explain possible side effects.

What are the side effects?

Although tryptophan is considered safe, in most cases, some people may experience adverse effects with amino acid supplementation.

In addition, there is no scientific research that reports the risks offered to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Therefore, use is not recommended for this group.

There are also no reported cases of toxicity due to excess tryptophan. But in large quantities, and when combined with serotonin medications, which is the case with some antidepressants, it can cause some form of discomfort. In such cases, it can increase anxiety and tremors for these people.

Some individuals, when overdosing, may experience muscle pain or weakness, skin rashes, cramps, difficulty breathing and extreme tiredness .

In addition, cases have been reported of people who have had gastrointestinal problems such as  heartburn , stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Other common side effects include headaches, sexual dysfunctions such as impotence and dry mouth. However, it is worth mentioning that these side effects are quite individual.

Does tryptophan get thin?

No. There are still no scientific reports demonstrating that the use of tryptophan helps to gain weight or lose weight. What is known is that it can indirectly contribute to weight loss, since it produces serotonin and it controls the impulsive consumption of high-calorie foods, such as sweets or carbohydrates .

This is because those who are depressed or feel anxious and stressed, can often look for caloric foods to feel pleasure and well-being, which increases the consumption of calories and, consequently, weight.

In addition, because tryptophan contributes to a good night’s sleep, it can be quite beneficial for weight control. This is because some hormones that regulate appetite are produced by the body during sleep, thus preventing over-consumption of food.

But it is worth mentioning that in order for healthy weight loss to occur, it is important to maintain some appropriate habits such as having a balanced diet and performing regular physical activities. Thus, inserting tryptophan in daily life can become an important ally in weight control.

Price and where to buy the supplement?

Tryptophan can be found in pharmacies or health food stores in the capsule version. The average price varies depending on the laboratory or manufacturer.

Some options are:

  • Tryptophan Minas Brasil , 60 capsules: R $ 60;
  • Triptofano Dreams Inove Nutrition: R$90;
  • Tryptophan from Santa Catarina : R $ 50;
  • Biophisicus Tryptophan , 60 capsules: R $ 30.

* Prices consulted in August 2020. Prices may change.


A balanced diet is the key to complete health, which includes the body and mind. Therefore, investing in variety and good nutrients helps in this process.

The Healthy Minute brings tips for a balanced life and an adequate diet!

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