In a recent recipe sent out by the cooks here at Swanson Health Products, we called out tryptophan as an important nutrient provided by the chicken in the dish. When I think of chicken, the first thing I think of is protein, not tryptophan. And when I think of tryptophan, I think of it in terms of the post-Thanksgiving Dinner nap, not something I need to supplement.
Recently, however, with the wedding coming up and being super busy here at work, I was looking for something to help deal with stress – and hopefully reign in some of the mindless eating that goes along with that. I’d also been having a hard time sleeping, sometimes only getting an hour or two a night. After some research and reading some health supplements reviews from our customers, I decided to try 5-HTP—short for 5-hydroxytryptophan—a supplement intended to support a positive mood and a healthy appetite, as well as encourage a good night’s sleep.
According to our Health Encyclopedia (check it out – we’ve got lots of good natural health information in there!) 5-HTP is a metabolite of the aforementioned L-tryptophan and a precursor to serotonin, “a neurotransmitter involved in sleep, moods, appetite and other body functions.” In order to make serotonin, the body requires the raw material to do so, and that’s where 5-HTP comes in. “Much of the tryptophan we eat is processed along different biochemical pathways and won't necessarily be used by the brain to make serotonin. On the other hand, 5-HTP is the direct precursor of serotonin, and its smaller molecule size makes it readily available to the brain.”
The reviewers were right on – this stuff does just what it says it will and it’s quickly become one of my top health supplements. To learn more about 5-HTP, check out this article in our Health Library.