Well, here we go again. Foodfacts.com has noticed that tryptophan is discussed extensively, especially over the holidays.
Although many people blame the tryptophan in turkey for their post-meal drowsiness, this is not really an accurate connection. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (which means our bodies can’t make it and we must get it from our diets) and it’s found in many foods, including turkey and other meats, wheat, dairy and more.
Typtophan can also be found in a lot of different foods. One of the foods with the highest amount of tryptophan is actually egg whites. Cheese has a lot of tryptophan and pork has even more present than turkey or chicken (which are found to have the same amount of tryptophan).
So why the sleepiness after Thanksgiving and not a breakfast of scrambled eggs with pork sausage? Mostly because the really sedative effect of Thanksgiving dinner is more because of the over eating, excessive carbohydrate consumption (like break and sweet potatoes) and for adults, alcohol consumption.
It’s not really the tryptophan that makes us so tired after our big turkey meal.
Tryptophan is critical in infants for normal growth and in adults for proper nitrogen balance. Although tryptophan is used by the body to produce serotonin and melatonin, which are hormones involved with sleep, the levels found in foods are not enough to produce an immediate drowsy effect.