Will you be dozing off after your Thanksgiving meal? Although Tryptophan is found in high protein foods like turkey that sleepiness is probably more from those delicious deserts.
Tryptophan is one of the 9 essential amino acids. It is part of many essential metabolic functions, predominantly known for its role in protein synthesis. You have probably seen tryptophan included as part of muscle supporting EAA supplements.
Tryptophan also supports cognitive processes and mood. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan and those who have been found to consume low amounts of foods containing tryptophan are sometimes found to have depleted levels. Some studies have shown depleted tryptophan levels and its effect on reported depression, aggression, and impulsive action symptoms. Serotonin balance and disturbances have implications on many psychological processes.
Similarly tryptophan depletion was shown to have negative effects on memory and delayed recall. Adequate levels can ensure acute and long term cognitive flexibility.
Even though all those thanksgiving desserts are likely the cause for the afternoon crash, tryptophan is involved together with serotonin in the synthesis of melatonin. Melatonin is of course known to have positive effects on sleep and is part of what regulates your internal sleep / wake rhythms. Improvements in sleep latency and duration in sleep stages has been seen when supplementing with tryptophan.
It's no wonder tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids with its roles in protein synthesis, mood, cognition, and behavior.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.