Because the safest and most effective dosage has not yet been established for tryptophan, it is a good idea to follow the directions on the label of your particular tryptophan product. It is also a good idea to look for a supplement that has the "USP" symbol, which means that the supplement contains the right ingredients in the right amounts. However, it is not clear whether any dose of this supplement is safe.
An Introduction to Dosing With Tryptophan
Tryptophan (also known as L-tryptophan) is an amino acid that is sometimes used in dietary supplements. It is important to note that unlike medications (for which the standard doses have been well established), there is less information available for determining the best dose for supplements, including tryptophan.
Tryptophan Supplementation and Dosing Guidelines
The best (safest and most effective) doses for tryptophan supplementation have not been clearly established. Studies have used a wide range of dosages, too wide to make any recommendations for tryptophan dosing. Because little information is available to guide you in choosing a tryptophan dosage, be sure to follow the directions on your particular supplement.
Studies have used high tryptophan doses for insomnia treatment (1000 mg to 2500 mg daily) and premenstrual syndrome treatment (6000 mg per day), while lower dosages (300 mg daily, in combination with antidepressants) were used for depression studies. It is not known if these amounts are either safe or effective.
A safe maximum dosage (known as the "tolerable upper intake level" or UL) for tryptophan has not been established, due to the lack of safety information about long-term tryptophan supplementation and due to concerns about serious tryptophan side effects. In other words, it is not clear if any tryptophan dosage is safe.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed March 18, 2008.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2005. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=R1. Accessed March 18, 2008.
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