Consuming enough tryptophan is essential for your mental and physical health. Without being aware, you may be deficient. When someone has a tryptophan deficiency, it can lead to serious issues with one’s emotional stability. Without proper tryptophan intake, you can also negatively affect your neural health.
Since our bodies cannot produce this amino acid on its own, it needs to be consumed through diet and in some cases supplementation. If your diet lacks enough tryptophan, you can develop symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you understand the symptoms, you can target a potential deficiency.
Why Is Tryptophan So Important Within Our Diets?
It’s essential to include tryptophan in our diets, as higher levels of serotonin are dependent on tryptophan. When you have low levels of serotonin, it’s easy to become depressed, stressed, and lack focus. Although environment places a large role, your brain chemistry is a large factor regarding your mood and the way you feel overall.
Both serotonin and dopamine are two of the most well-known neurotransmitters. Both of these chemicals influence your emotions, feelings of pleasure, confidence, and ambition. In turn, when there’s a lack of these chemicals, you can feel confused, pessimistic, and agitated.
Our bodies collect and utilize the materials needed to produce hormones and neurotransmitters. In terms of diet, tryptophan is the leading source of serotonin. Therefore, when there are emotional concerns, a lack of tryptophan may be playing a role.
The Essential Role of Tryptophan
Once we consume tryptophan from items in our diet, it is immediately converted into 5-HTP. From there, it accesses the brain through the blood-brain barrier. Once inside the brain, it is converted into serotonin. Levels of serotonin are stored in your neurons, until its release is triggered.
To create calming effects, serotonin binds to specific receptor sites. The release of serotonin allows us to feel happier and more fulfilled. Not only does it affect mood, but it has a direct effect on appetite. This is an important role for anyone who is trying to lose weight.
When you do not consume enough tryptophan, it can lead to low levels of serotonin. When environmental factors do arise, you will not have the necessary tools to counteract the stress felt by your body and mind. If this continues, then depression or feelings of anxiety may be experienced.
Am I Consuming Enough Tryptophan?
In order to understand whether or not you have a tryptophan deficiency, you need to pay attention to potential symptoms. Once deficient, you will notice various physical symptoms. Many individuals experience digestive and skin issues. Although these can lead to more serious complications, emotional effects can be even more dangerous. Since they do not create physical symptoms, they’re harder to detect.
Emotional symptoms begin with depression-like symptoms, such as sleeping issues, low self-esteem, and social withdrawal. In much more advanced and serious cases, individuals may experience cognitive decline. Cognitive imbalances can lead to more serious conditions such as dementia.
Although there can be multiple factors, tryptophan is a strong contributing factor. Similar symptoms are also seen when individuals have vitamin B deficiencies. This is why it’s so beneficial to supplement, especially if you’re not consuming enough tryptophan on a regular basis.
How Much Tryptophan Do I Need?
If you are already deficient, simply consuming more foods that are high in tryptophan may not resolve the imbalance. Taking tryptophan supplements is an easy and safe way to help rectify your emotional issues. For most users, a starting dose ranges between 1-2 grams per day.
When you’re consuming this starting dose, you will feel less stressed and have a sense of calmness. Sleeping patterns tend to normalize, which helps target symptoms of depression. Sleep is essential, especially when dealing with your mental health.
If needed, some users take up to 6 grams daily. However, for many users, this amount will not be necessary. At low doses, tryptophan supplements create very few side-effects. However, in some rare cases, side-effects have been experienced.
If you consume more than 6 grams, you can potentially experience serotonin syndrome. Meaning your brain produces an excess of this chemical. This is a very serious condition, so please be conscious of proper dosing. You should never mix tryptophan with any other anti-depressant medication for this exact reason.
How Else Can I Balance Serotonin Levels?
There are a number of ways that you can increase serotonin levels in the brain. All of the benefits experienced by tryptophan, can be experienced when supplementing with 5-HTP as well. Taking 5-HTP is considered to be highly effective, as it’s even easier to process than tryptophan. This is because it takes less energy for your body to process 5-HTP.
Serotonin levels can also be increased through L-Theanine. Not only does this supplement aid in mood, but it helps create calming effects. If you’re someone that is trying to combat feelings of stress and anxiety, L-Theanine is a great choice.
Although L-Theanine is often associated with green tea, levels are simply too low to have significant effects on your brain. This is why supplementation is recommended. In conclusion, a tryptophan deficiency can be serious. Luckily, it can be easily corrected. Simply supplement to boost serotonin levels, combating potential symptoms of depression and anxiety.