L-tryptophan is an amino acid, one of the 22 needed to build proteins. It is also one of the essential amino acids that the body is not able to synthesize. L-tryptophan can be consumed through food sources that are rich in this amino acid such as meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, chocolate, nuts, seeds and certain foods.
One very important function of this l-tryptophan is its ability to aid and speed up the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for regulating appetite and mood. Some of the synthesized serotonin in the brain is transformed into melatonin, another type of neurotransmitter, which is believed to regulate sleep patterns.
Supplementation of l-tryptophan is advised in order to manage or even treat such conditions as insomnia, sleep apnea, bruxism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. Taking l-tryptophan regularly as a supplement is also believed to help people who are trying to quit smoking. As one of the building blocks of protein, some take supplements with l-tryptophan to enhance athletic performance and to aid in recovery after hard physical training.
The cognitive enhancing ability of l-tryptophan is attributed to its ability to regulate mood. L-tryptophan is also a precursor of niacin, a type of B vitamin that contributes to the efficiency of some of the processes in the brain. These two effects from l-tryptophan earned it some merit as a nootropic agent.
Erratic mood changes and disposition often interfere with the brain’s cognitive process. With enough serotonin however, moods are stabilized the brain’s cognitive processes can take place without much interference. B vitamins, with its neuroprotective properties not only help protect the neurons in the brain, but it can also encourage growth of new ones. In these two aspects, cognitive enhancement is achieved to a certain extent and l-tryptophan plays a major role in it. These actions of l-tryptophan also make it a very useful addition to a nootropic stack.
Experienced nootropic users however, will very likely argue that these effects aren’t enough to consider l-tryptophan a nootropic. While it does well with regards to regulating moods, regulating sleep patterns, and staving off anxiety attacks and depression, it has no direct effect on most of the brains cognitive processes.
To be considered as a true nootropic, it is expected from a compound to directly affect cognitive processes like memory retention and recall, learning abilities, logical reasoning, and verbal skills. In these regards, l-tryptophan appears to have no direct effect at all. L-tryptophan supplementation has its own share of side effects and these include diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, nausea, involuntary muscle spasms, excessive sweating, fever, and cottonmouth.
- Relatively affordable.
- It can stabilize your mood.
- It can ward off stress and anxiety.
- It can complement your existing nootropic stack.
- It has a lot of uses and side benefits.
- It may not work for everyone.
- It is not a ‘true’ nootropic.
- It may even counteract the effects of other nootropic agents.
- It has its own share of unpleasant side effects.
The daily recommended daily dose of l-tryptophan is dependent on what goals the user wants to achieve. A safe dose to start with its supplementation should be between four to six grams and then gradually increase the dose until you reach a particular dose that works best for you. As with other supplements, it is always best to consult a physician before you start taking an l-tryptophan supplement.