Health Benefits of Tryptophan

Tryptophan, also called L-tryptophan, is one of the essential amino acids, the smallest units of protein. It is necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitter serotonin, a hormone known for its benefits in sleep, learning, memory, mood (depression) and more. There fore, tryptophan, due to its effects in the synthesis and release of serotonin, can be beneficial for sleep, mood, and other roles serotonin regulates. It is also required for the production of melatonin and niacin.

Tryptophan is necessary for the production of muscle.

Tryptophan Deficiency

Tryptophan deficiency is associated with reduced serotonin and it can be a risk factor in children for mood swings such as anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. See here for the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of tryptohan for adults, children and pregnant women.

High Tryptophan Food Sources

High tryptophan levels containing foods include protein-rich vegetarian foods (nuts, flax seed, beans) and animal foods (beef, pork, egg, milk products). Tryptophan content in food varies depending on the type. Dried egg white and soy isolate protein isolates contain the highest tryptophan content (1200 - 1400 milli gram/100 gram) of all foods analyzed by the USDA Nutrition lab. Sesame and soybean seeds and some type cheeses such as mozzarella are also among the richest sources of the amino acid tryptophan.

Below are charts with lists of select high tryptophan food sources, ordered high to low, categorized into animal (meat and egg), vegetarian (vegan), and milk and milk products (cheese).

 Tryptophan in Animal Products: Eggs, Meat

Tryptophan food sources Tryptophan content (mg/100 g food)
Egg, white, dried, stabilized, glucose reduced 1430
Egg, white, dried, powder, stabilized, glucose reduced 1270
Pork, fresh, pancreas, raw 410
Pork, Leg sirloin tip roast, boneless, raw 270
Salami, Italian, pork 253
Pork, fresh, loin, blade (chops or roasts), boneless, raw 250
Turkey, meat only, raw 250
Turkey, meat and skin, raw 247
Lamb, Australian, fresh, loin, trimmed to 1/8" fat, raw 240
Chicken,  thigh, meat only, raw 230
Pork, fresh, leg (ham), whole, raw 210
Chicken, wing, meat and skin, raw 195
Turkey, breast meat, raw 194
Egg, yolk, raw, fresh 177
Egg, whole, raw, fresh 167
Beef, round, top round, trimmed to 1/8" fat, raw 146
Beef, top sirloin, trimmed to 1/8" fat, raw 144
Turkey, sausage, fresh, raw 130
Egg, white, raw, fresh 125
Sausage, Italian, pork, raw 114

On the next page are high tryptophan vegetarian foods.