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The effects of tryptophan had been considered safe for more than 30 years until an incident in 1988 was to changed this. In 1988 more than 1000 people were injured and 37 people lost their lives due to tryptophan supplement use. Research carried out by the CDC showed that the cause of this incident was not from the tryptophan supplement itself, but from a contamination in the products. The discovery of this information however did not affect the ban on tryptophan that the FDA introduced and are still enforcing today.
Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce. Amino acids as you know are the building block of protein a substance that is required by the body in order to survive. As our bodies do not produce tryptophan we need to provide it eating tryptophan rich foods, or by taking a tryptophan supplement.
The amino acid tryptophan is a vital element for neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. These chemical messengers carry nerve impulses from one cell to another. Put in simpler terms, our brain can not function properly without adequate amounts of these messengers. As the amino acid tryptophan helps with the production of both serotonin and melatonin it is vital that our body gets the required amout from sources such as tryptophan rich foods or supplements.
Our body also uses the amino acid tryptophan to create vitamin B3, known as niacin. Many nutritionists beleive that as long as you supply your body with enough trytophan rich foods you will be able to produce adequate amounts of niacin, which reduces cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Niacin also helps to reduce depression.
In order for tryptophan to carry out its bodily functions efficiently, vitamin B6 is required. Other nutritents that are also required are vitamin C, folate (vitamin B9) and the mineral magnesium.
Due to the fact that tryptophan has been banned in many countries a derivative of tryptophan known as 5-HTP can be used. This supplement can also be as a safer alternative for treating depression without the side effects of SSRI drugs. A supplement I would recommend is the Xtend-Life Neuro-Natural Serenity, containing 250 mg of 5-HTP along with key brain and body nutrients to fight with depression.