Foods with tryptophan - what are they and what are they for

Foods with tryptophan – what are they and what are they for?

Tryptophan is one of the nine essential amino acids. Including foods that contain it in the diet is a basic rule of thumb for healthy eating.

Foods with tryptophan are necessary to ensure the synthesis of hormones essential for well-being, such as serotonin and vitamin D.

This article details the foods with tryptophan with a complete list of examples and what it is to include them in the diet.

What is tryptophan?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. In other words, it cannot be synthesized by the human body.

The body needs tryptophan to make serotonin. However, it is not true that by consuming more foods with tryptophan, you will feel happier. When there is a fault, this is important.

Including foods with tryptophan is a good strategy for those going through a period of depression or low testosterone.

In addition, some studies recommend its use after using recreational drugs such as MDMA. (6)

List of foods with tryptophan

The foods with the highest tryptophan content are fish meat, soybeans, lentils, and other legumes, as well as various nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts), dairy products, oats, and dark chocolate.

The recommended daily allowance for tryptophan is 3.5 mg per day per kilogram of body weight. The equivalent of 250 mg for a person weighing 70 kg. (1) Although daily needs may be higher in people with depression. Here is a list of foods with tryptophan:

Product Tryptophan (mg in 100 g) % DRI
(walnuts, almonds, peanuts)
560-600 mg 200%
Soy-based foods 560-600 mg 200%
Pinions 420-400 mg 150%
Red meat 420-400 mg 150%
White meat (chicken, turkey) 410- 380 mg 140%
Fish 340-335 mg 120%
Eggs 200-150 mg 65%
Chocolate 200-150 mg 65%

Can Tryptophan Foods Increase Serotonin?

Studies that have tried to elucidate whether tryptophan foods serve to increase serotonin or not have reached controversial conclusions.

A study published in the JAMA Network states that one of the foods with tryptophan: chocolate is capable of increasing serotonin production instantly (8)

These authors explain that the combination of carbohydrates with tryptophan increases the concentration of said amino acid in the nervous system and stimulates the production of serotonin.

In contrast, the Journal of Affective Disorders states that the effects of chocolate consumption on serotonin levels are short-lived. (7)

When chocolate is consumed as a strategy to cure psychological disorders, there are more chances of generating a lousy habit than of curing depression.

Foods with tryptophan are essential for making the hormone serotonin. But its effects should not be overestimated.

Foods with tryptophan are helpful when there is a chronic lack of these in the diet. Including foods with tryptophan is an excellent strategy to balance biochemistry. However, it should not be posed as the solution to the problem.

5-HTP Tryptophan Supplements Do They Work?

5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is a precursor to the hormone serotonin. It is used as an antidepressant medicine for people with a deficiency of this hormone, as well as a treatment for cases of epilepsy.

The supplements with tryptophan 5-HTP were sold in pharmacies and due to its potential side effects and contraindications it has even been withdrawn from the market in Spain and Japan.

High doses of tryptophan in the body lead to adverse changes in metabolism. For this reason, it is not recommended to use this type of supplement but to meet the needs through food.

Taking HTP-5 should always be done under the authorization of a doctor. The most common uses are when a lack of serotonin occurs caused by the excessive use of alcohol, nicotine and other narcotics such as MDMA. As well as when going through complex emotional situations, genetic or eating disorders.

Do foods with tryptophan help you sleep better?

The amino acid L-tryptophan is the raw material for both melatonin and serotonin.

Both hormones are essential to regulate the hours of sleep. If you have insomnia problems, this may be due to a lack of foods with tryptophan in the diet.

However, is it accurate that you will sleep well by eating foods with tryptophan? The causes of sleep disorders can be various. So before making changes to your diet, it is essential to find out the reasons.


Tryptophan is an essential amino acid necessary for producing the hormones serotonin and melatonin.

The foods with the most tryptophan are nuts, meats, eggs, and dark chocolate.

Lack of foods with tryptophan can cause anxiety and low quality of sleep.

Hydrolyzed tryptophan supplements should always be taken under a doctor’s recommendation; their side effects can be severe.

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