5-HTP (5 hydroxy-tryptophan) is a derivative of the amino acid, tryptophan.
5-HTP is also a precursor to serotonin.
A precursor is a substance from which another substance is formed. As 5-HTP sits between tryptophan and serotonin it is known as an intermediate metabolite.
The molecules of 5-HTP are very small and are able to pass from the bloodstream into the brain.
Here they are converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin.
The unabbreviated form of 5-HTP is 5 hydroxy-tryptophan.
5-HTP may also be referred to as:
- 5-hydroxy L-tryptophan
- L-5 HTP
- L-5 hydroxytryptophan
5-HTP Structural Formula
The structural formula of 5-HTP ( 5 hydroxy-tryptophan) is: C11 H12 N2 O3
5-HTP and Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical which transfers messages between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain.
Serotonin regulates various functions including:
- sexual behavior
As 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, increased levels of 5-HTP are linked to a subsequent rise in serotonin levels.
Low levels of serotonin are associated with:
By raising serotonin levels using a 5-HTP supplement, the negative effects of low serotonin levels can be avoided. Hence, 5-HTP is generally seen as a mood enhancing chemical.
Where is 5-HTP found?
5-HTP is a naturally occurring substance. However, dietary sources of 5-HTP are limited.
As 5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid l-tryptophan. 5-HTP can be indirectly taken from foods containing l-tryptophan.
Dietary food sources of 5-HTP (through tryptophan) include:
- poultry - turkey is a significant source
- red meat
- dairy products - cheese is a good source of tryptophan
The seeds of griffonia simplicifolia, a climbing shrub native to Central and West Africa, is a natural source which contain high levels of 5-HTP.
5-HTP supplements are normally derived from the seeds of griffonia simplicifolia.