Tryptophan is an amino acid needed for normal growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults. It is an essential amino acid, which means your body cannot produce it -- you must get it from your diet.
The body uses tryptophan to help make niacin and serotonin. Serotonin is thought to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood.
In order for tryptophan in the diet to be changed into niacin, the body needs to have enough:
- Vitamin B6
Tryptophan can be found in:
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
Parker G, Brotchie H. Mood effects of the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine: 'Food for Thought' III. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2011;124:417-426. PMID: 21488845 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21488845.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed January 15, 2016.