Tryptophan and Pregnancy

Although a normal dietary intake of tryptophan (L-tryptophan) is safe and essential for pregnant women, tryptophan supplementation may not be safe during pregnancy. Tryptophan supplements may negatively affect fetal breathing movements, which can be a sign of fetal distress. Also, there are significant concerns that tryptophan supplementation may not be safe for anyone (including pregnant women), due to the risk of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome.

An Overview of Tryptophan and Pregnancy

Tryptophan (also known as L-tryptophan) is an amino acid found in many foods and also used in dietary supplements. Tryptophan supplements are not thought to be safe for use in pregnancy. Therefore, you should not take tryptophan supplements during pregnancy without your healthcare provider's approval and supervision.
 

Is Tryptophan for Pregnant Women Safe?

A normal dietary intake of tryptophan (from a wide variety of foods as part of a healthy diet) is safe and essential for pregnant women.
 
However, there are concerns that tryptophan supplementation may not be safe for pregnant women. It might seem logical that tryptophan supplements would be perfectly safe for pregnant women, as tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in many foods. However, just because a normal dietary intake of tryptophan through food is safe, it cannot be assumed that using tryptophan supplements medicinally is equally as safe. Perhaps the higher levels of tryptophan could cause problems, or perhaps the tryptophan in supplements is slightly different from the tryptophan found in foods. Until more information is available, it is probably wise to wait until after pregnancy to take tryptophan supplements.
 
One study has shown that tryptophan supplementation negatively affected fetal breathing movements as measured by ultrasounds. Because decreased fetal breathing movements can be a sign of fetal distress, it is possible that tryptophan supplementation can have negative effects on a fetus. Also, there are significant concerns that tryptophan supplementation may not be safe for anyone (including pregnant women), due to the risk of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (see Safety of Tryptophan).
 
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