Updated by Marc Woodard, 2/27/20
What is dietary Tryptophan and how can it help you lose weight and reduce anxiety?
It is one of the 8 essential amino acids our bodies require to function correctly. It is found naturally in varying degrees within food we eat, such as red meat, milk, eggs, turkey, bananas and chocolate, etc.
How does Tryptophan work to produce benefits for our bodies that could promote natural weight loss, reduce anxiety, increase happiness, remove depression, and promote good sleep? Could it be possible this essential amino acid supplemented within a diet and known as L-Tryptophan could also help with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) for you and your children?
The answers will surprise, anger and shock many of you about the health benefits our pharmaceutical industries don’t want you to fully realize. This is because the prescription industry is a billion (s) dollar industries that do not want to give up its prescription turf!
Let’s first cover a bit of history. Back in 1991 the US government banned the dietary supplement L-Tryptophan because it was linked to a large outbreak of a deadly disease that killed 38 people in a 1989 study. After 10 years had passed without incident of use in Europe, the US loosened its marketing restriction on the substance in 2001. Like anything else, if misused any product may cause ill-health conditions. Like many competitive industries, and most specifically our pharmaceutical industries back in 1989, they took full advantage of this disaster and profited in the market place by denouncing L-Tryptophan supplementation and created a whole slew of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals to mimic the benefits of this essential amino acid.
As you will read below, there are still risks of using L-Tryptophan if not used correctly. But I believe the pharmaceutical cocktail mixes our doctors now prescribe to you and your children have greater risk to health than this natural occurring supplement found in a balanced diet. So instead of this industry improving a safe version of this supplement, it appears it was more profitable to create a whole lot of other products to achieve the same result at greater expense with increased health risk.
How does this amino acid work in our bodies to promote health benefits?
Our bodies need serotonin and melatonin neurotransmitters which are bio-brain chemicals that allow proper function of our physiology. Our bodies do not manufacture these neurotransmitters without this amino acid in the diet. That’s what essential means… our body can’t produce this amino acid on its own, and it has to be obtained through the diet.
This is important why? Because without enough of this essential amino acid – any one of us stand a good chance of suffering from one, or any combination of ill-health condition of varying degree… such as, migraines, low energy, sleepless nights, improper weight regulation, obesity, depression, anxiety and hyperactivity.
If your diet is predominately low protein-high carbohydrate, you are at greater risk of ill-health. When dietary balance is one of high sugar-fat and low protein you reduce the uptake of essential nutrients needed to sustain balanced body chemicals and good health.
Fortunately, more consumers today are educated on proper use and benefits of L-Tryptophan. It is making a big comeback in the mainstream weight loss, anti-anxiety/depression and ADD marketplace.
As you can imagine there is big opposition to this movement from the pharmaceutical industry because there is much profit to be lost once consumers wean off unnecessary pharmaceuticals.
I’m not saying all man-made products are without merit. However, all too often, our physicians and psychiatrists are too quick to prescribe a pill when the answer to the problem could be very simple – a poor diet, or need to simply supplement the diet with an essential amino acid to stimulate the production of the necessary neurotransmitter chemical.
Can supplementing the diet with L-Tryptophan help us regulate and reduce weight?
Science shows this supplement can greatly reduce our cravings for sweets and carbohydrates.
When dieting our serotonin levels appear to decrease which creates a carbohydrate binging and cravings effect.
When our serotonin levels remain low there is a direct correlation with weight gain and obesity. We know this binging and craving effect as the Yo-Yo effect.
There are known side effects of taking L-Tryptophan if proper dosages and impure quality grade are not considered. Unlike Tryptophan extracted from the foods in our diet, there appears to be no health risk. But like anything else we put in our bodies, if you consume too much with frequency, a negative to no benefit effect can result making the body ill.
Here is a list of possible side effects when misusing, or using L-Tryptophan: Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS), or serotonin syndrome.
Symptoms include severe muscle pain, fatigue, and nerve pain, hair loss, rash, dry thickened skin, or skin changes. High eosinophil levels are found in the blood when supplementation has gone wrong. Also when recommended dosages are disregarded, excess toxic waste in the body can impact the brain bringing on psychotic symptoms. This may include confusion, seeing, or hearing things, fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, diarrhea, difficulty walking. Allergic reactions may include: Rash, hives, itching, swelling of mouth/throat, wheezing, or breathing difficulty. Science still cannot tell us if EMS is the result of impure or specific brand L-tryptophan that had contaminants. But for best results, it’s best to ensure a quality pharmaceutical grade for safe use.
If L-Tryptophan is supplemented within the right dosages, the scientific data shows the brain will manufacture balanced serotonin and melatonin neurotransmitters promoting a cheerful mood, assist in weight reduction, relieve anxiety, reduce migraine, reduce hyperactivity, reduce depression and promote healthy sleep patterns. Sounds like the same benefits you’d receive from a doctor’s prescription, does it not? Because this supplement also has many potential risks like prescriptions; it would be prudent to work with your primary care physician if interested in supplementing the diet with L-Tryptophan.
This essential acid is also responsible for manufacturing the neurotransmitter Melatonin [resulting in healthy sleep patterns]. Melatonin can be purchased over-the-counter in many retail stores.
I’ve used melatonin after working grave yard shifts and can tell you it works very well to induce sleep. But if you’re getting enough tryptophan from a balanced diet – sleepless nights may become less frequent. Of course, bodies are all different in ability to process Tryptophan and manufacture serotonin and melatonin, so these dietary truths and resulting effects will vary and affect each individual differently.
If you’d been advised to reduce the cholesterol in your diet, this may likely lead to a reduction of this essential amino acid. I have not supplemented my diet with L-Tryptophan, but would do so If I felt I couldn’t get this essential amino acid from the foods I eat daily.
If you or your child suffer from ADD, obesity, anxiety, depression and insomnia, consider balanced diet and/or supplement with natural Trpytophan, or a high quality L-Trpytophan prescribed by a physician.
Understand there are literally thousands of Internet links and library resources on this topic. There is much to be interpreted and derived from the data I found outside of the two links listed below. I see the positive benefits of balanced diet and supplementation if needed. The pharmaceutical and psychiatric community does not share a similar enthusiasm over the benefits of supplementation.
Research the Internet and read up on diet Tryptophan versus supplement L-Tryptophan and how it may be your silver bullet to weaning off of pharmaceuticals and promoting a good health to meet your fit healthy and well-being goals.
Good health to you and your family!
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2010-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.