Tryptophan Is The Only Substance That Can Create More Serotonin

The essential amino acid tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate a number of important brain functions. In particular, serotonin has been shown to play a role in regulating mood, anxiety, appetite, and sleep patterns. Medications that increase serotonin levels in the brain, such as antidepressants, do not actually create more serotonin; they simply inhibit the reuptake of existing serotonin by cells in the brain, thereby making more available. Tryptophan is the only substance that can actually produce more serotonin.

Dietary Tryptophan

Tryptophan is not produced by the human body and must be obtained through diet. It can be found in many foods, including turkey, cottage cheese, milk, brown rice, peanuts, meat, and soy products. Unfortunately, the protein-rich foods that tend to contain tryptophan also contain other amino acids that compete to cross the blood-brain barrier. This means that much of the tryptophan consumed does not make it to the brain, causing a minimal effect on brain serotonin levels.

Boosting Serotonin Production

Consuming carbohydrates along with foods containing tryptophan can help more tryptophan cross into the brain and boost serotonin levels. This is because carbohydrates cause an increase in insulin, and insulin decreases the concentration of amino acids other than the tryptophan, thereby weakening the competition for transport across the blood-brain barrier.

It is also important to consume enough vitamin B6. While vitamin B6 does not produce serotonin itself, it is necessary for converting tryptophan into serotonin. Without this important vitamin, even large amounts of tryptophan will have no effect on serotonin levels.

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