Mood-Altering Tryptophan: Some Foods That Will Help Regulate Your Serotonin Levels Through Tryptophan Intake
Tryptophan used to have a bad rep. The amino acid found in turkey and other foods was thought to be the major cause of sleepiness on the U.S.’s annual turkey day. Thanksgiving would roll around and all people could talk about was how turkey contains so much tryptophan that your Uncle Kevin was perfectly justified in falling asleep on the couch after his third helping.
The truth is both more simple and more complicated than that. Yes, it is true that tryptophan does help boost your serotonin levels, which is responsible for helping us to sleep soundly.
However there are many foods that contain much higher levels of tryptophan than turkey. So its more likely that Uncle Kevin is drooling on his sweater by halftime of the Detroit Lions game simply because he ate so much high starch, high glycemic index food at one sitting that he suffered a massive sugar crash. A couple of afternoon beers never hurt either.
Tryptophan is also essential for keeping our moods stable, producing niacin, and for promoting growth and development. The recommended daily dose of tryptophan is 4 mg per kilogram of body weight, or 1.8 mg per pound. This means that a person weighing 70 kilograms or 154 pounds ought to be consuming 280 mg of tryptophan per day.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to get your tryptophan fix. Here are some great foods for it.
• Pumpkin seeds – A mere ounce of these guys contains over 50 percent of the U.S. recommended daily allowance for tryptophan. Other similar sources include, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios and sunflower seeds.
• Soya-based foods – Edamame or roasted or blanched soybeans are a great source of tryptophan, along with tofu and soybean sprouts.
• Cheese – Mozzarella is especially high in tryptophan, coming in with 160 mg per ounce, or over 56 percent of the U.S. RDA.
• Lamb – There’s a good reason why you feel so satisfied after a big meaty meal. Lamb especially contains a lot of tryptophan, with 228 mg in a 55 gram serving, or 81 percent of the U.S. RDA. Other meat sources for tryptophan are rabbit, roast beef and pork, and pork tenderloin.
• Chicken and Turkey – Well, you knew this one was coming. But actually chicken breast is higher in tryptophan than turkey, with 343 mg per three-ounce serving.
• Tuna – With 95 mg of tryptophan per one-ounce serving, tuna may not be quite as high as chicken or turkey, but it makes a nice change. other great tryptophan-containing fish include halibut, salmon and trout.