Milk is not a good source of L-Tryptophan, NY Times says.

There was an article published recently in the NY Times stating that the L-Tryptophan in milk doesn't cross the blood brain barrier. Can you explain this in terms of taking the Tryptohan capsules? Thank you very much.

Hello Eileen,

I have not yet seen the NY Times article, but a well-known property of Tryptophan is that it competes with several other amino acids for passage through your blood-brain barrier.

These amino acids are the branch-chain amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine), and the aromatic amino acids (Phenylalanine, and Tyrosine), Because milk is a significant source of these amino acids, not much of the Tryptophan is likely to get through.

Pure Tryptophan either given on an empty stomach or with a carbohydrate snack will pass through your blood-brain-barrier much more easily... especially when given with a carbohydrate snack, which tends to drive other, competing amino acids out of your blood stream, leaving Tryptophan to pass through your blood-brain-barrier virtually without competition.

This is one reason that a chewable Tryptophan tablet works so well, even though the actual dose of Tryptophan is lower than in a capsule.

I hope this helps, and if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me!

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