Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, Oxitriptan, or L-5-HTP. It is a natural compound commonly added to dietary supplements to improve mood and reduce stress.
Users use 5-HTP to promote relaxation, improve concentration, sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation. For the body, 5-HTP is a natural precursor in the production of serotonin. 5-HTP is also related to the sleep hormone melatonin and can contribute to restful and quality sleep.
In this article, we will discuss where 5-HTP comes from, its role in the body, its benefits and possible side effects, and the dosage of 5-HTP.
Interaction between 5-HTP and Tryptophan
In the human body, 5-hydroxytryptophan is a metabolite of tryptophan, meaning that tryptophan is degraded to produce 5-HTP.
Amino acids are divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It means that tryptophan cannot be synthesized in the human body and must be derived from food supplements.
Tryptophan is found in many protein-rich foods, both plant-based and animal-derived. Found in meat, dairy products, eggs, turkey, beef, as well as seafood - crabs, halibut, salmon and perch.
Sources of Tryptophan of Plant Origin: Chickpeas, Soy and Tofu, Oats, Spinach, Bananas, Lentils, Beans, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, and Chia Seeds.
Tryptophan is broken down from food or supplements into 5-HTP and other metabolites, niacin (vitamin B3).
How Are 5-HTP, Serotonin and Melatonin Related?
Tryptophan and 5-HTP are chemical precursors of serotonin and melatonin, two neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood and sleep. Serotonin in the brain is converted to melatonin, so if serotonin levels in the brain are low, typically melatonin levels can be unbalanced as well.
Many mood disorders are associated with lower than normal levels of these neuro-chemicals, and 5-HTP may help to reverse these differences.
People can get a certain amount of 5-HTP by including in their diet plan the above mentioned products which are rich in the amino acid tryptophan.
Vegetarians and individuals who do not eat seafood run the risk of not getting enough of this nutrient. In addition, some people naturally produce ground-level 5-HTP from tryptophan, the food they eat. This can lead to low levels of serotonin in the body.
Low tryptophan a nutrient in the diet, or a decrease in 5-HTP in the body, can lead to low levels of serotonin and melatonin. Dietary supplements can be a good solution for supplementing with the right amount 5-HTP.
5-HTP Food Supplements
5-HTP is a publicly available supplement in many countries and can be purchased at pharmacies or food supplement stores. True, in pharmacies the price of this supplement can be much higher.
As a supplement, 5-HTP is naturally derived from Griffonia simplicifolia plant seeds. Griffonia simplicifolia is a traditional plant in West and Central Africa.
It is a tall shrub that has been used as a natural medicinal plant for thousands of years. In Africa, Griffonia simplicifolia seeds and leaves are often pressed and consumed in powder or tea form.
Griffonia simplicifolia plant seeds may contain up to 20% by weight of 5-HTP. 5-HTP Griffonia the plant contains biologically identical 5-HTP that is produced in the human body.
5-HTP, like almost all amino acids, comes in two forms, the L-form or the D-form configuration. L-Form amino acids are rich in nature, produced in cells, and can be incorporated into a protein. D-Form amino acids are mainly produced by bacteria or artificially.
L-5-HTP is a more common form of 5-HTP found in the human body and in 5-HTP supplements.
How does 5-HTP work?
Tryptophan, in the form of foods or supplements, travels to the liver, which is broken down into 5-HTP and other metabolites. 5-HTP then travels through the blood to the brain.
After ingestion, 5-HTP is transported to the liver. There it is partially metabolized to the aromatic L-Amino-acid decarboxylase, with vitamin B6. The rest circulates in the brain, where it crosses the blood-brain barrier and is converted to serotonin in the brain.
When 5-HTP crosses the brain barrier, 5-HTP crosses by separating blood vessels and brain tissue. Inside the brain, 5-HTP is converted to serotonin.
Serotonin is considered a "neurotransmitter for happiness", it is associated with positive emotions, peace and happiness.
Serotonin itself cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, the direct use of this substance will ineffective. 5-HTP is the best way to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
5-HTP may also increase melatonin excretion during the night. Melatonin is the main sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland to control the sleep and wake cycle.
During the day, serotonin is converted to melatonin very slowly. When light levels decrease in the evening, the conversion of serotonin to melatonin increases.
Increased levels of these neurotransmitters are associated with overall well-being, less anxiety, apathy, and stress.
The recommended dose of the 5-HTP dietary supplement depends on several factors; age, body weight, current health, sensitivity, and reason for taking 5-HTP. Below you will find recommendations, it is also recommended to consult your doctor before taking.
Many sources indicate that 5-HTP should be used at lower doses, thus expecting to reduce the potential risk of nausea or gastrointestinal problems. Healthy individuals who are not currently depressed can take between 50mg - 100mg up to three times a day.
For people with depression, anxiety disorders, the dose can be increased between 150 mg - 300 mg per day.
You should not exceed more than 500mg per day unless instructed to do so by your personal physician. High doses can lead to side effects.
5-HTP safety and possible side effects
5-HTP has been evaluated as safe for oral use in adults according to the database of natural medicines.
The use of 5-HTP in pregnant women is considered unsafe and should be avoided. For individuals with Down syndrome or seizures, the use of this supplement should also be avoided.