Tryptophan is one of the eight essential amino acids; these amino acids are ones that your body cannot produce on its own so you must include these amino acids through your daily diet. Tryptophan is needed because it helps your body produce serotonin, which is required for normal brain and nerve function. Serotonin is important for your body because it helps with inflammation, but it also stabilizes your moods and helps your body with sleep. Tryptophan is also needed for the production of Vitamin B3, without tryptophan, your body cannot produce this much-needed vitamin.
Tryptophan is needed for other reasons as well. Without tryptophan, controlling hyperactivity in children can be nearly impossible. For adults tryptophan can help reduce stress levels, but it can also help with weight loss because it reduces your appetite. People who suffer from migraines can benefit from a tryptophan supplement because it has been found that most migraine suffers have an abnormal level of tryptophan, so increasing the levels helps reduce the number of migraines that they have.
Something else that you will want to keep in mind when it comes to getting the proper amount of tryptophan is that if you do not get enough of this essential amino acid it can cause heart artery spasms, especially if you are not getting enough magnesium. It is recommended that you get at least 3 mg of tryptophan per every 2 pounds of body weight for an adult, just remember that this is the minimum amount that is recommended, you can take more.
Various studies have been done on the intake of tryptophan; each study has used a different amount of tryptophan. One study has shown that simply taking 100 mg at night, in the form of a supplement, is enough to help with sleep related issues. Other studies have used 300 to 600 mg to help treat sleeping disorders, weight loss, anxiety, depression, and many other problems. The results of those studies have varied considerably, but they all show the same side effects when tryptophan is taken in high doses.
If tryptophan is taken in too high of a dose the worst side effects that you are going to suffer from are headaches, sleepiness, anxiety, and possibly gastrointestinal upsets. If you notice these possible side effects, the best thing you can do is lower the amount of your dosage until the side effects go away. You also want to be careful when taking a tryptophan supplement if you are currently taking anti-depressants or a serotonin modifying medication.
University of Michigan report: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d04732a1