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Tryptophan is an α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Tryptophan contains an α-amino group, an α-carboxylic acid group, and a side chain indole, making it a polar molecule with a non-polar aromatic beta carbon substituent. It is essential in humans, meaning that the body cannot synthesize it and it must be obtained from the diet. Tryptophan is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, the hormone melatonin, and vitamin B3.It is encoded by the codon UGG. Like other amino acids, tryptophan is a zwitterion at physiological pH where the amino group is protonated (–NH+3; pKa = 9.39) and the carboxylic acid is deprotonated ( –COO−; pKa = 2.38).Many animals cannot synthesize tryptophan: they need to obtain it through their diet, making it an essential amino acid.
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps the body make proteins and certain brain-signaling chemicals. Your body changes L-tryptophan into a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps control your mood and sleep.
TL-tryptophan is found in meats such as turkey and chicken. It is also found in: Bananas, Cheese, Chocolate, Dried dates, Eggs, Milk, Fish, Oats, Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, Soy, Tofu,nuts, including peanuts and peanut butter The amount of L-tryptophan in these foods is small compared to supplements.
L-tryptophan has been linked to a dangerous, even deadly condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). The FDA recalled tryptophan supplements in 1989 after up to ten thousand people who took them became sick. EMS causes sudden and severe muscle pain, nerve damage, skin changes, and other debilitating symptoms. Doctors saw a lot fewer people with EMS after the ban.
IPotential side effects of tryptophan supplementation include nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, lightheadedness, headache, dry mouth, blurred vision, sedation, euphoria, and nystagmus (involuntary eye movements).