Though they are readily available in the market, many people still aren’t fully-conversant with Tryptophan and 5 HTP. Some choose one in favor of another while others combine the two. Majorly used as dietary supplements, 5 HTP and tryptophan are precursors to serotonin and are classified as amino acids. They are readily available over-the-counter and are used in treating conditions that are brought about by low levels of serotonin in the brain. Common conditions include depression, sleep disorder, anxiety, obesity, and others. Though looking and serving similar purposes, tryptophan and 5 HTP are quite different. Unfortunately, many people use them interchangeably and this may lead to side effects or interactions.
Looking At Tryptophan
Tryptophan is a common amino acid that plays an essential role in human beings. The dietary supplement comes in two key forms: L-isomer and D-isomer. L-isomer is the most common and is derived from both animal and plant proteins such as poultry, meat, peanut, yogurt, banana, fish, milk, egg, turkey, and more. Although the food sources contain adequate levels to boost serotonin in the body, digestion and absorption is slow and it takes time for the essential nutrients to find their way into the body. This is why people opt for dietary supplements which are more concentrated and are easily absorbed into the bloodstream
A Look at 5 HTP
5 HTP is also derived from amino acid that is found in the same sources that provide L-tryptophan (eggs, milk, poultry, peanuts, yogurt…). However, 5 HTP isn’t directly sourced from the protein foods but has to undergo a chemical change before it is produced. It is a direct serotonin precursor and is derived after the synthesis of a neurohormone known as melatonin. 5 HTP is mostly marketed and sold as dietary supplement capsules (50mg or 100mg) and is available as an antidepressant, sleeping aid, or appetite suppressant. It also treats anxiety disorders, fibromyalgia and other conditions brought about by low levels of serotonin.
How Tryptophan Converts Into 5 HTP
Both Tryptophan and 5-HTP are dietary supplements that increase the level of serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter in the brain. The two products serve the same purpose but are produced differently though from the same amino acid or protein sources. While L-tryptophan is derived directly from the food sources, 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5 HTP is derived from Tryptophan after undergoing a chemical change. Thereafter, 5 HTP is converted to a simpler form, 5HT or serotonin. L-tryptophan accounts for about 1 percent of all the amino acids sourced from dietary proteins. Since it shares the same transport path with other supplements such as 5-HTP, leucine, valine, and isoleucine, Tryptophan has to compete so as to reach the brain.
Due to their similarity in working, some people use tryptophan converts into 5 HTP for better result. Some do it to increase the uptake of the essential nutrients and boost production of serotonin in the brain. However, this practice is discouraged because each supplement comes with its unique side effects, and at the end the adverse reactions will be increased. Common mild reactions include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, shivering, headache, restless limbs, while serious ones are tremors, hypertension, mania, ataxia, hyperthermia, hallucination, and increased toxicity.