The debate rages on about the usefulness of Tryptophan in the fight against anxiety. Fact: your body needs Tryptophan to make serotonin. If you follow a diet very low on tryptophan, such as a strict vegan diet with too little protein in the form of nuts and soya etc, you quickly become fatigued and miserable, with aching joints. You can also get worse anxiety.
Getting more Tryptophan into your body through diet is rather hard due to the complex way that Tryptophan and other amino acids vie for a way through the blood-brain barrier. Ultimately that means that you might need to consider supplementing if you are trying raise serotonin naturally.
But how much should you take? Especially considering the health scares and scandals that have surrounded Tryptophan for several decades.
Calculating the best dose of Tryptophan can be tricky. Like most supplements research is lacking and too much of the data is qualitative.
The most commonly suggested dose is 500-1000mg, but I would like to add a few caveats to that. Firstly, more is not better! Some studies have shown that higher doses of Tryptophan do not yield better results. That is because of the way Tryptophan is metabolized and some of the (unpleasant) enzymes produced. So don’t aim to take masses!
Secondly, Tryptophan can have some side-effects. Some people have reported nausea, dizziness and dry-mouth. Obviously taking in lots more Tryptophan than usual can be a shock to the system, therefore starting on a small dose and gradually increasing might be wise. I recommend starting as low as 50mg and increasing in increments of 50mg or even less every few days. Stop increasing if you get any side-effects and let your body get used to what it is getting before moving on.
Depleted levels of seotonin take time to recover, so don’t expect results for a few weeks anyway.
There is more on beating anxiety through nutrition and dealing with other physical symptoms in Killing Anxiety From The Roots.