November 23, 2006

Happy Tryptophan Day from Shake Well Before Use

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Thanks.gifHappy Thanksgiving to those in the States - to the rest, just follow suit like we do for holidays that aren't our own (Cinco de Mayo) and share some drinks over full bellies. If you're feeling a bit crafty with the long weekend ahead, Make offers some festive ideas for the over-achievers in the house.

As with most holidays, the dreams of little boys and girls across the globe must eventually be crushed. Ah, yes, like the tooth fairy, let me divulge in telling you that the Tryptophan fairy doesn't exist either:

"According to popular belief, tryptophan in turkey meat causes drowsiness. Turkey does contain tryptophan, which does have a documented sleep-inducing effect as it is readily converted into serotonin by the body. However, tryptophan is effective only when taken on its own as a free amino acid. Tryptophan in turkey is found as part of a protein, and, in small enough amounts, this mechanism seems unlikely.

A more-likely hypothesis is that the ingestion of large quantities of food, such as at a Thanksgiving feast, means that large quantities of both carbohydrates and branched-chain amino acids are consumed. Like carbohydrates, branched-chain amino acids require insulin to be transduced through the myocyte membranes, which, after a large meal, creates a competition among the amino acids and glucose for insulin, while simultaneously creating tryptophan's reduced competition with other amino acids for the Large Neutral Amino Acid Transporter protein for transduction across the blood-brain barrier. Alcoholic beverage consumption at holiday feasts is likely to compound the effect."

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