Tired After Turkey – Is Tryptophan to Blame?

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

After finishing a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, do you have the urge to skip the family game of Scrabble and instead, crawl under the table for some post-turkey slumber? You’re not alone.

Some may blame a certain amino acid known as tryptophan  – but the truth is, you’d have to eat a massive quantity of turkey to feel the effect of the this substance. Your fatigue is more likely caused by consuming larger-than-usual (to put it lightly) portions of food.

But there’s something you may not know about tryptophan – it offers benefits to your body, year-round!

What is tryptophan?

L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means your body does not produce it on its own. Tryptophan is actually a precursor to several important neurotransmitters and other substances within the body, including 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), serotonin, vitamin B3 (niacin) and melatonin.

Benefits of tryptophan

Although turkey itself probably won’t make you tired,  tryptophan  does play an important role in supporting natural, restful sleep. This amino acid also offers benefits for healthy mood, normal attitude during PMS (sign me up!) and get this – may actually support a healthy appetite!

Sources of tryptophan

Because your body doesn’t produce its own stores of tryptophan, it must be obtained by consuming certain foods or supplements. In addition to turkey, you’ll find tryptophan in spirulina, spinach, sesame seeds, soy products, egg whites, bananas and chocolate (just to name a few).

As I mentioned above, it’d be difficult to consume enough through diet alone, which is why  tryptophan supplements are a convenient choice.