5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. Your body uses it to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between your nerve cells.
Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain and other health problems. Therefore, increasing your body’s production of serotonin may have various benefits.
For this reason, serotonin-producing 5-HTP supplements have become increasingly popular.
Here are 3 potential health benefits of 5-HTP.
It Can Aid Weight Loss by Increasing Feelings of Fullness
5-HTP may increase feelings of fullness, causing you to eat less and lose weight.
Weight loss can increase the production of hormones that make you feel hungry. These feelings of constant hunger can make losing weight unsustainable in the long term.
It may counteract these hunger-inducing hormones, working to suppress appetite and help you lose weight. In one study, 20 people with diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either 5-HTP or a placebo for two weeks. The results showed that those who received it consumed approximately 435 fewer calories per day, compared to the placebo group.
What’s more, 5-HTP primarily inhibited the intake of calories from carbohydrates, which was associated with better blood sugar control, as well as certain animal studies have shown that it may reduce excessive food intake due to stress or depression.
Helps With Depression by Increasing Serotonin Levels
The effects on symptoms of depression have been well studied. While the exact cause of depression is largely unknown, some researchers believe that a serotonin imbalance may influence your mood in a way that leads to depression.
5-HTP supplements are thought to treat depression by increasing serotonin levels, however more research is necessary to be 100% sure.
Can Promote Sleep by Increasing Your Melatonin Production
5-HTP produces serotonin, which can be converted into the hormone melatonin which plays an important role in regulating sleep. Its levels begin to rise in the evening to promote sleep and fall in the morning to help wake you up. Therefore, supplementing with it may promote sleep by increasing melatonin production in your body.
One human-based study showed that a combination of 5-HTP and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) significantly reduced the time it took to fall asleep, increased sleep duration and improved sleep quality. GABA is a chemical messenger that promotes relaxation. Combining it with 5-HTP likely has a synergistic effect
What about dosages?
The recommended dose for 5-HTP depends on your reason for taking it.
Here are some general guidelines to get you started:
Weight management: 250–300 mg, 30 minutes prior to a meal.
Mood enhancement: 50–100 mg, 3 times per day with meals. Use for at least one week to notice a beneficial effect.
Sleep aid: 100–300 mg, 30–45 minutes before bed. Stack with GABA to increase effectiveness.
In short 5-HTP is an effective supplement that will aid with problems sleeping, weight management and also mood improvement.