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What is tryptophan and where does it come from?

Tryptophan is an amino acid commonly found in our food and in our body as well. It's also an essential amino acid that must be obtained from food in order for many of our body systems to function properly.

Amino acids (including tryptophan) are primary known as building blocks for protein. Therefore, virtually all foods that contain protein will contain tryptophan. Generally speaking, the higher a food is in protein content, the higher it will be in tryptophan. Of course, there are some protein-rich foods that are higher in tryptophan than others. Shrimp, halibut, tuna, chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb are good examples of foods that contain substantial amounts of tryptophan (more than 325 milligrams per 4 ounce serving).

Even though tryptophan and other amino acids can be purchased as dietary supplements, they are not typically added to food in any form but rather occur naturally within food proteins. Within the context of your diet, I recommend that you think about tryptophan as a health-supporting part of protein that belongs to the world of whole, natural foods.

For more information on this topic, please see: Tryptophan

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