Does Turkey Make You Tired?

By Schieszer, John | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 23, 1995 | Go to article overview

Does Turkey Make You Tired?


Schieszer, John, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Millions of Americans will be eating turkey today -- and probably plenty of it. After eating a large Thanksgiving dinner, many people feel stuffed and sleepy. That could be caused by overeating -- or perhaps by L-tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey.

While many animal and plant proteins contain L-tryptophan, turkey has a high concentration of it. Researchers say that L-tryptophan is converted to a brain chemical known as serotonin, which directly affects sleep. L-tryptophan can induce sleep or help people sleep longer.

Diane Dyn, a dietitian at DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton, says that only large doses of L-tryptophan will affect sleep. On Thanksgiving, she says, many of us will ingest higher levels of L-tryptophan because it is found not only in turkey, but also in milk, vegetables and gravy.

Until about five years ago, L-tryptophan capsules were sold in health-food stores, marketed as a sleep aid and sold in strengths ranging from 100 to 600 milligrams. Four ounces of turkey contains about 350 milligrams of L-tryptophan. The capsules are no longer sold in the United States because of impurities found in them. Tainted capsules resulted in hundreds of cases of a serious blood disorder and in the deaths of 38 people. The problem was traced to a Japanese manufacturer, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to reallow the sale of L-tryptophan capsules.

In Canada, researchers at the University of Manitoba conducted a sleep study of L-tryptophan. …

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