It is necessary amino acid and should not be absent from the diet. It is not synthesized in the animal but in microorganisms it may be synthesized. This amino acid is neither ketogenic nor glycogenic. Tryptophan may suffer bacterial putrefaction in the intestine causing the creation of indolacetic acid, indole, indoxyl, skatole and a lot of other compounds. These are toxic substances and later than being wrapped up are detoxified in the liver by conjugation with sulphuric acid and glucoronic acid.
Hartnup disease is a hereditary faulty metabolic situation in which tryptophan is not usually metabolized and excreted as such along with indolacetic acid. The symptoms are pellagra similar to skin and mental abnormality.
Sources of tryptophan
Tryptophan, found as a component of dietary protein, is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage, cheese, meat, fish, turkey and peanuts.
Benefits of tryptophan
Tryptophan has two important functions. First, a small amount of the tryptophan we get in our diet (about 3%) is converted into niacin (vitamin B3) by the liver. This change can help stop the symptoms linked with niacin deficiency when dietary intake of this vitamin is low.
The major purpose of tryptophan is as a building block in protein synthesis.
Tryptophan has been concerned as a probable cause of schizophrenia in people who cannot metabolize it correctly. When inappropriately metabolized it create a waste product in the brain which is toxic and cause hallucinations and delusions. Tryptophan has also been point to as an aid for schizophrenic patients.
Clinical research tended to confirm tryptophan's effectiveness as a natural sleeping pill
Tryptophan helps the anxious agitated depressive to counterbalance, restoring a sense of well-being and behavioral self-control. Van Praag's research has shown that for many people suffering depression, combining the amino-acid tyrosine with tryptophan works much better than taking tryptophan alone
Chronic alcoholism may also have a serotonin component. Research with animals and humans has exposed that alcohol at first increase serotonin nerve action; yet chronic alcohol use impairs tryptophan entry into the brain. This chronic alcoholism may engage a vicious spiral of a brief alcohol induced add to of serotonin neural activity, with consequent sense of well being, combined with an ever worsening baseline state of serotonin nerve activity due to alcohol's impairment of brain tryptophan transport.
Recent research has shown that the depression that frequently accompanies and even predates the movement disorders of Parkinson's disease is primarily due to the hypo function of serotonin nerves, so tryptophan may be a useful adjunct to L-Dopa/ deprenyl treatment of Parkinson's.
Tryptophan serves as a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps the body control appetite, sleep patterns, and mood. Because of its capability to increase serotonin levels, tryptophan has been used therapeutically in the treatment of a variety of situation, most remarkably insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Supplemental tryptophan also helps to decrease the anger and aggression.
Deficiency symptoms of tryptophan
As an essential amino acid, dietary deficiency of tryptophan may cause the symptoms characteristic of protein deficiency, which include weight loss and impaired growth in infants and children.
Deficiency of tryptophan can cause symptoms range from depression, suicide, PMS, anxiety, alcoholism, insomnia, aggression, compulsive gambling and violence.
Suicidal behavior, compulsive gambling, unreasonably dangerous thrill seeking behavior and pyromania have been shown to be correlated with low serotonin neural motion, combined with extreme dopaminergic or noradrenergic activity.
When accompanied by dietary niacin deficiency, be short of of tryptophan in the diet may also reason pellagra, the classic niacin deficiency disease that is characterize by the "4 Ds" dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death. This circumstance is very rare in the United States, however, and cannot take place simply because of a tryptophan deficiency.
Symptoms of high intake
High dietary intake of tryptophan from food sources is not known to cause any symptoms of toxicity. In addition, tryptophan has been given therapeutically, as a recommendation medicine or dietary supplement, in doses more than 5 grams per day with no report of unfavorable effects.
However, in 1989, the use of dietary supplements contain tryptophan was blamed for the growth of a serious situation called eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS), which caused severe muscle and joint pain, high fever, weakness, swelling of the arms and legs and shortness of breath in more than a thousand people. In addition, more than 30 deaths were credited to EMS caused by tryptophan supplements.
Daily requirement for different age groups is given below:
* Males and females 10-18 years: 3.3 mg/kg
* Adults: 3.5 mg/kg
* Infants up to two years: 17 mg/kg
* Children 2-10 years: 12.5 mg/kg
Other interesting points
Tryptophan may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions: Anxiety, Depression, Headaches, Insomnia, Nightmares, Obesity, Obsessive/compulsive disorder, Pain, Premenstrual syndrome, Senile dementia, and Tourette's syndrome
People taking the anti-depressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (including Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft) should consult a physician before taking any other supplement or medication that also increases the amount of, or the effect of, serotonin, in the body
Vitamin B6 is necessary for the conversion of tryptophan to both niacin and serotonin. As a result, a dietary deficiency of vitamin B6 may outcome in low serotonin levels and impaired conversion of tryptophan to niacin.
In addition, more than a few dietary, lifestyle and health factors decrease the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, including cigarette smoking, high sugar intake and alcohol abuse, too much consumption of protein, hypoglycemia and diabetes.