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5-HTP: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage and Supplements


5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

5-HTP is a metabolite of L-Tryptophan and is a precursor to serotonin. It is commonly used to improve mood, aid in fat loss, and aid in sleep.

Uses of 5-HTP

5-HTP is a popular supplement, and is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin can be described as the “happy” neurotransmitter, as is plays a role in mood/happiness, and we have studies to prove this.

To start, 5-HTP is commonly used for depression. According to a study, 5-HTP was shown to be about 50% effective at helping people with therapy-resistant depression. An analysis on 5-HTP says that it is promising, however it needs more research to be proven effective.

5-HTP is also used in several fat burners as well, mostly non-stim fat burners. According to a study, 5-HTP may aid in appetite suppression. The study showed that obese subjects who took 5-HTP lost more weight than the placebo group. Appetite suppression is one of the most important aspects of any fat burner we review here on FI, so it’s nice to see a study showing it to be beneficial for that.

Another study showed that 5-HTP may be good at reducing cortisol. If you want to know the potential benefits of reducing cortisol, check out this link to see our write up on it.

Supplementing with 5-HTP may be good for improving sleep as well. A study showed that 5-HTP and GABA may aid in helping people with sleep problems fall asleep faster, as well as increase sleep duration.  

5-HTP is a somewhat underrated supplement in the sports nutrition world, although it is quite popular in the “healthy” side of the supplement industry. It is certainly worth looking into and adding to your daily supplement regimen.

Interactions with 5-HTP

As mentioned above, the combination of 5-HTP and GABA appear to work synergistically. More research needs to be done on 5-HTP as a standalone for sleep purposes however.

You’ll mostly find 5-HTP as a standalone, however you may also find it in sleep aids and some non-stim fat burners.  

Side Effects with 5-HTP

Some potential side effects with 5-HTP include stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Always talk to your doctor before considering supplementing with 5-HTP.

Recommended Dose of 5-HTP

Anywhere from 50mg-900mg is what you’ll typically see recommended. We recommend starting on the lower side and increase your dose as you see fit. We must note that 5-HTP does not have the longest half-life, so it’s best to split doses throughout the day.

Recommended Products with 5-HTP

The following products contain 5-HTP at the recommended dosage, and are recommended supplements for Fitness Informant:

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