In what forms can tryptophan be taken?

You can buy tryptophan in pill or powder form as L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is an amino acid found naturally in protein sources. The body turns L-tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and then to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite and sleep, among other things.

L-tryptophan supplements are controversial because of possible safety concerns. The Food and Drug Administration took L-tryptophan supplements off the market for a time in the 1990s, after they were linked to a life-threatening syndrome that caused muscle pain, nerve damage and widespread inflammation in the body. The reaction may have been caused by contaminated L-tryptophan supplements.

You can also get tryptophan naturally by eating turkey, milk, chocolate, pumpkin, sunflower seeds and collard greens.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.