Both 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and tryptophan are amino acid precursors of serotonin. Both cross the blood-brain-barrier and both can be used to increase serotonin levels in the brain. However, as you will soon see, 5-HTP is better for this purpose. Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids found in the human diet. Tryptophan is found in most dietary proteins, but it is especially abundant in meat, poultry, milk, yogurt, eggs, fish, spirulina, sesame/sunflower/pumpkin seeds and oats. However, tryptophan is the least abundant essential amino acid in foods, making up only about 1% of the amino acids available in dietary proteins.
5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor to serotonin. It is derived from tryptophan and is converted into serotonin by the aromatic-L-amino acid decarboxylase enzyme with the help of vitamin B6. 5-HTP does not compete with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain-barrier. However, 5-HTP and tryptophan can also be converted to serotonin in the liver and other tissues outside the brain. In fact, more serotonin is produced and stored outside the brain than inside. However, serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain-barrier and only the 5-HTP or tryptophan that is taken up into the brain can increase serotonin levels in the central nervous system.
Supplementing with 5-HTP can help to treat a number of issues that are associated with anxiety, including trouble sleeping, moodiness and headaches. 5-HTP increases serotonin, which is a calming neurotransmitter that transmits signals between the nerve cells and alters brain functions that regulate your mood and sleep patterns. Studies show that 5-HTP therapy is associated with a significant reduction in anxiety due to its calming effects. For people struggling with mood disorders, insomnia or addictions, supplementing with 5HTP can be a good way to directly increase serotonin. Low doses should be taken at first, and you should look for outside effects, including nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, lightheadedness, headache or dry mouth. It also helps improve sleep quality, lifts your mood, reduces depression and anxiety, can help with recovery from addictions, reduces headaches and migraines, and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
We’ve been told throughout the years that it’s important to not use 5-HTP with MAO inhibitors unless your doctor tells you otherwise, as they both trying to accomplish the same “goal.”
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Remember this article is for information only. Do not make any changes in your diet or lifestyle without first consulting with your preventive health care provider. We always pray for your prosperity and health, 3 John 2, blessings, Donna.