Tryptophan hydroxylase is a vital step when producing serotonin in the body. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which is obtained through our diet and supplementation. It is directly linked to serotonin levels, which then influence our mood. When we experience an increase in serotonin levels, it also provides a calming effect and diminishes stress.
In order for tryptophan to be converted into serotonin, it needs to undergo a a metabolic process. Tryptophan hydroxylase plays a large role in this process, as it is the first limiting step. It is also the first enzyme involved in the production of melatonin.
What Is Tryptophan Hydroxylase?
The process known as hydroxylation, is when an organic compound is broken down in liquid or air. This process is common within many biochemical mechanisms, allowing one compound to be transformed into another.
For instance, when a compound is known as a pre-cursor to another compound, it must undergo this process in order to complete its transformation. Tryptophan hydroxylase, tyrosine hydroxylase, and phenylalanine hydroxylase, are all part of the family known as aromatic amino acid hydroxylases.
When focusing on natural supplements, tryptophan hydroxylase is the enzyme that allows users to increase serotonin levels. This enzyme causes tryptophan to be transformed into 5-HTP, then serotonin.
When tryptophan hydroxylase is inhibited, it may create symptoms of depression.
What Is the Difference in Tryptophan Hydroxylase and Tryptophan Pills?
The term tryptophan hydroxylase is more commonly discussed within biochemical or chemistry techniques, instead of commercial supplementation. When focusing on supplements, you’re more likely to find products that are labelled L-tryptophan or just tryptophan.
When taking hydroxylated tryptophan, your body is able to form 5-HTP more readily. However, it is not necessary in order to gain the benefits that tryptophan offers. If you are supplementing for everyday stress relief, tryptophan supplements are recommended. This is because tryptophan hydroxylase is more commonly used within a lab setting, not for daily supplementation.
How Does Tryptophan Work?
As the human body has evolved, it has began to require some tryptophan. Through a regular diet of tryptophan-rich foods, you can consume adequate amounts of this amino acid. Some of the most common foods are broccoli, almond, bananas, Brussels sprouts, and of course turkey. Although we can consume this amino acid through our diet, supplementation can be highly beneficial for those that are deficient.
When you consume tryptophan, it begins its transformation into serotonin. This neurotransmitter is directly linked to mood and nerve function. The first step is being transformed into tryptophan hydroxylase, then 5-HTP. At this point, 5-HTP is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
When focusing on serotonin, 5-HTP is used to synthesize this neurotransmitter (based on the reactions prior to its production). When serotonin levels are stable, you feel content and at peace. However, if serotonin levels are low, you can enter a state of depression and hopelessness. Due to this reason, many individuals are opting for tryptophan supplementation.
Tryptophan Hydroxylase Isoforms
Within humans and other mammals, there are two distinct tryptophan hydroxylase genes. These two enzymes are known as TPH1 and THP2. When focusing on TPH1, this gene is mainly expressed in tissue that involves the peripheral system. However, it also expressed within the central nervous system.
THP2 on the other hand, is associated with neuronal cells, acting as the main isoform in the central nervous system. It is expressed in the brain, controlling serotonin synthesis in mammals. Current research has shown that variations in this gene are associated with antidepressant treatment.
Safety Concerns While Taking Tryptophan
If you are looking to alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression, tryptophan is ideal for you. However, it is understandable if you’re slightly concerned. In 1990, the FDA banned the sale of tryptophan supplements which has created uncertainty. Due to a health scare involving tryptophan, 35 people died from a rare neurological condition known as EMS.
Later on, it was determined that the fatalities were linked to a bacterial infection that was circulating at a Japanese factory. Due to these findings, general tryptophan consumption was deemed safe. Currently, the FDS has cleared this ban. Considering tryptophan is found naturally in many food items, it has been well-tolerated in humans throughout time.
Where Can I Purchase Tryptophan Hydroxylase?
When looking for tryptophan hydroxylase, you can purchase it on many websites that cater to the scientific community. Since these forms of tryptophan are mainly used for research purposes, they’re intended for the lab and are not recommended as a daily dietary supplement.
Although consuming tryptophan hydroxylase is safe, there is no reason to favor it over commercial supplements. Nootropics supplements such as L-tryptophan or 5-HTP, will provide you with nearly identical results. These supplements are readily available by online vendors that specialize in nootropic supplements.
What Other Supplements Will Provide Similar Effects?
If you are trying to boost your mood, you have multiple options. There are a few supplements that are known to boost serotonin levels, essentially improving one’s mood. These have similar effects to tryptophan hydroxylase and are typically more readily available.
One natural supplement that has been safely used for years is Griffonia Seed Extract. Within the seeds of this plant, you will find 5-HTP. Due to these seeds, this extract produces the same effects as tryptophan. Another option is L-theanine, which is found naturally in tea. Either of these options are great substitutes.
When focusing on the best supplement for you, take the time to research each option. If you have further questions or concerns, speak with your healthcare provider. This is especially the case if you are currently on antidepressants.