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girl on exercise bike5-HTP, short for 5-Hydroxy-l-tryptophan, is an amino acid. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. When orally ingested 5-HTP is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and in the brain it is converted to serotonin. With supplementation of 5-HTP, elevated serotonin levels can be achieved. This is especially true if natural serotonin levels are low to begin with.

Physical and mental stress can cause a depletion of the body’s serotonin levels, which has some nasty effects on the body. These effects include depression, sleep disturbances, and intense cravings for starchy carbohydrates. Using 5-HTP can relieve the user of these issues by bringing serotonin levels up.

Intense training and dieting are two big stressors that can cause low serotonin levels. Because of this, 5-HTP is possibly the best supplement that an athlete can take to increase feelings of well-being and prevent sleep disturbances while training intensely. While dieting, 5-HTP also has the effect of reducing cravings for starches and sweets.

Many natural sleep aids and diet products contain 5-HTP, but it is also effective when used alone. Proper dosage of 5-HTP is in the range of 25-100 mg one to three times daily. When used solely for sleep quality, it can be taken only in the evening. When used for cravings or mood enhancement, it should be spread out in two to three daily doses.

References

1. Autret A, Minz M, Bussel B, Cathala HP, & Castaigne P. (1976). Human sleep and 5-HTP. Effects of repeated high doses and of association with benserazide (RO.04.4602). Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology. 41(4), 408-13.

2. Lam DD, Garfield AS, Marston OJ, Shaw J, & Heisler LK. (2010). Brain serotonin system in the coordination of food intake and body weight. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. 97(1), 84-91.

3. KLINE NS, SACKS W, & SIMPSON GM. (1964). FURTHER STUDIES ON: ONE DAY TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION WITH 5-HTP. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 121, 379-81.

4. Birdsall TC. (1998). 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor. Alternative Medicine Review : a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. 3(4), 271-80.

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