Collection: 2021's 10 Best 5-HTP Top Supplements
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is an amino acid that is a pre-cursor for serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in a variety of mental and physical processes including mood, appetite, sleep, cognitive functioning, and sexual behavior. The supplement has been shown to successfully increase serotonin production, providing you with the following benefits of 5-HTP.
Depression and Anxiety
Experts agree that imbalances in levels of serotonin can negatively impact your mood. Studies have shown that 5-HTP can safely increase the production of serotonin and alleviate these symptoms. One study found that subjects felt an improvement in their condition within two weeks of starting treatment with 5-HTP. 1
Serotonin levels are also connected with the occurrence and severity of anxiety. Experts believe that lower levels of serotonin correlate to more frequent and severe episodes of anxiety and panic attacks. One study found that subjects who supplemented with 200mg of 5-HTP experienced significantly-reduced levels of anxiety when compared to those taking a placebo.
Studies show that eating carbohydrates will increase levels of serotonin, creating a potentially troublesome loop of always wanting carbohydrate-focused meals in place of protein and healthy fats. Over-consumption of simple carbohydrates such as bread, white rice, and baked goods is directly linked with weight gain, obesity, and cardiovascular disease risk.
One study found that by supplementing with 5-HTP, subjects could get that same serotonin boost without the craving for carbohydrates, which resulted in successful weight loss.
Sleep is the time when our bodies go into repair and recover mode. If you have trouble sleeping, you are at risk for a number of health conditions such as weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cognitive-based diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and imbalanced hormone levels.
5-HTP can increase serotonin, but it also aids in the production of melatonin, a hormone that has an important role in helping you get to sleep. Studies show that 5-HTP supplementation can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and improve the overall quality of the sleep you get.
Best Sources of 5-HTP
Unfortunately, 5-HTP is not found in food because it is synthesized in the body from another amino acid called tryptophan. To naturally increase the amount of 5-HTP in your body, focus on options with higher amounts of tryptophan. We recommend the following foods:
- High-protein animal-based foods: turkey, chicken, eggs, and fish
- High-protein plant-based foods: fermented soy, tofu, and edamame
- Dairy: cheese, cottage cheese, and milk
- Nuts and seeds: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, and pistachios
- Miscellaneous: dark chocolate
If you are allergic to some of the options above, consider a 5-HTP supplement, which is a concentrated extract and highly bioavailable or easy to digest and assimilate.
Side Effects of 5-HTP
The most common side effects of 5-HTP are mild, such as heartburn or nausea. However, one side effect to be aware of is the danger of long-term use of 5-HTP. Elevated serotonin levels over an extended period of time may have an impact on other neurotransmitters such as dopamine. As a result, you could begin to experience symptoms related to low levels of these other neurotransmitters such as mood swings and exhaustion.
We would argue that 5-HTP is best for short-term use, preferably under the supervision of your doctor or nutritionist.
- PubMed: Comparative study of efficacy of l-5-hydroxytryptophan and fluoxetine in patients presenting with first depressive episode.
- PubMed: Acute L-5-hydroxytryptophan administration inhibits carbon dioxide-induced panic in panic disorder patients.
- PubMed: Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression.
- PubMed: The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects.
- PubMed: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep.