You always hear about tryptophan around Thanksgiving time. Folks warn that getting too much turkey (one of the most well-known sources) puts you in a "food coma." Is it really to blame for that post-dinner snooze?
This specific amino acid is considered "essential," which means your body can't make it on its own -- you can only get it from food. All types of protein-rich foods are made of a combination of amino acids.
Tryptophan is important because it helps the body produce two must-haves: the B-vitamin niacin and the chemical serotonin. As with many other nutrients, supplements exist, but research has found these can cause some dangerous side effects. So stick to the safest version -- tryptophan found naturally in your food!
The food myth has to do with tryptophan's help in forming serotonin, which is involved in sleep regulation, appetite control and mood. The reality is that you would have to eat tryptophan alone and on an empty stomach (not likely on Thanksgiving) in order for it to make you feel sleepy. Because foods that contain tryptophan also contain other types of amino acids, that holiday turkey isn't what's making you tired. In fact, turkey's tryptophan content isn't even as high as it is in chicken and cheese.
The reality: Overeating, drinking alcohol and consuming a high-fat meal, which takes more time and energy to digest, are more likely the causes for that Thanksgiving afternoon nap.
Other than turkey, here are some major sources of tryptophan:
Pumpkin (and pumpkin seeds)
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
An Oregon county commission has ordered an incinerator to stop accepting boxed medical waste to generate electricity after learning the waste…
The Obama administration said Wednesday it is cutting the amount of coal dust allowed in coal mines in an effort to help reduce black lung disease.
The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels…
General Motors is dealing with another government safety investigation. This time the car targeted is the 2014 Impala.
Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to…
For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable…
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions.
An infant is fighting for her life after she was left alone with her mother’s dead body for several days.
Netflix is preparing a sequel unlikely to be a hit with its subscribers. The Internet video service is about to raise its prices for the…
Some student loan borrowers who had a parent or grandparent co-sign the note are finding that they must immediately pay the loan in full if…