Definition

Tryptophan is an amino acid needed for normal growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults. It is an essential amino acid, which means your body cannot produce it — you must get it from your diet.

Function

The body uses tryptophan to help make niacin and serotonin. Serotonin is thought to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood.

In order for tryptophan in the diet to be changed into niacin, the body needs to have enough:

  • Iron
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B6

Food Sources

Tryptophan can be found in:

  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy
  • Tofu
  • Turkey
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