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What is Tryptophan?

What is Tryptophan?

This ingredient is contained in NeuroScience's Nuvoxil, a popular health product by Neuroscience Inc..


Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is most commonly known to help the function of the nervous system to make us feel relaxed and sleepy. An essential amino acid is a unit of protein needed by the body but is unable to synthesize it naturally so its supply is dependent on food intake and supplements.

Just like the other essential amino acids, tryptophan is used by the body to build protein. This helps us grow and develop muscles and tissues, and repair damaged ones. Additionally, tryptophan is a precursor to some of the most important compounds needed by the body. Serotonin helps regulate intestinal peristalsis but is most commonly known as the chemical that helps improve mood and decrease depression. Vitamin B3 or niacin, another tryptophan derivative, helps in the metabolism of fats and proteins as well as the proper functioning of the nervous system. Auxin is a phytohormone that helps in the growth of plants.


Deficiency in tryptophan is not good for the body. When one lacks enough tryptophan from the daily food intake, the manifestation is depression and anxiety. This is because tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin. Since it is an essential amino acid, tryptophan deficiency may also cause weight loss and growth retardation in children. High levels of tryptophan have no reported toxicity or adverse effect. Its most obvious effect would probably be the feeling of sleepiness.


At present, tryptophan is promoted and marketed as treatment to insomnia, anxiety and depression due to its calming and relaxing effect. It is available in many food sources and even from nutritional supplements. However, before taking any tryptophan supplement, a doctor should be consulted since it may interfere with other nutrients or medications you are taking.

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