Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids i.e. it can not be produced by human body. Therefore it has to be supplemented from outside. Infact dietary supplements of tryptophan are being increasingly recommended in management of psychiatric disorder (mainly depression ; but also in anxiety and insomnia). Consult your physician before taking such dietary supplements.

How does tryptophan work ?

Tryptophan finally converts into serotonin , a neurotransmitter. Thus the production of serotonin is directly related to the tryptophan concentration in blood. Since the level of certain neurotransmitters (including serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) is decreased in depression, it is only logical that increase in tryptophan intake would adequately manage depression. Rich sources of Tryptophan are sesame and sunflower seeds, cereals (excluding corn), whole grains with germs, cheese, eggs, milk, turkey fish, banana, dried dates, peanuts and soybeans.

How much Tryptophan should one consume per day?

Estimate of Tryptophan requirements:

Age group Requirements (mg/kg/day)
Infants, 3-4 months 17
Children, 2 years 12.5
Children, 10-12 years 3.3
Adults 3.5