Tryptophan’s journey to the brain

Bioseutica has developed NA2R®, a tryptophan-rich natural ingredient derived from the protein content of egg whites. With an optimised amino acid composition, NA2R® is specifically formulated to drive the uptake of tryptophan into the brain, critically supporting the synthesis of serotonin. In this way, NA2R® may contribute to improving cognitive function, stabilising mood, and promoting a feeling of well-being.

Tryptophan’s journey to the brain; from food to cognition-critical serotonin. Clinical studies have shown improved working memory, reaction to positive information, and alertness for participants taking NA2R® compared to placebo controls. Daily consumption of NA2R® is clinically proven to increase brain serotonin levels, supporting the processing of positive emotional bias, whilst promoting focus, sleep quality, and cognitive function. Given this potent improving and enhancing properties of NA2R®, it is of particular interest to programmers, gamers, and those seeking to stabilise their mood. The resident excitable cells of the brain, the neurons, communicate across the physical gaps between them by means of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. Once released from one neuron at the synapse, these neurotransmitters are capable of binding to the receptors of neighbouring cells, conveying information that impacts the signalling and downstream propagation of signals by these receiving cells.

The brain is capable of encoding highly complex information, endowing us with the consciousness and behaviours that make us human. To date over 40 of these chemical messengers have been identified, the most commonly encountered, and perhaps most important in human behaviour and psychology being dopamine, glutamate, and serotonin. Serotonin is of particular interest to neuroscientists and psychologists due to its involvement in learning, cognition, memory, and mood. Indeed, serotonin deficiency is implicated in anxiety, irritability, mood disorders, memory, and depression.

Studies carried out to rapidly deplete serotonin levels have revealed acute mood lowering, particularly in women. Notably, even participants without prior depressive episodes were susceptible to significant mood abnormalities if there was a family history of depression. This makes it abundantly clear that maintaining serotonin levels and function is critically important for our well-being, mood, and happiness. The question that arises for us then is ‘how do I maintain stable levels of serotonin?’

The production of serotonin, otherwise referred to as 5-HT or 5-hydroxytryptophan, requires tryptophan. Despite this being an essential amino acid for the production of not only serotonin, but tryptamine, niacin (vitamin B3), and melatonin, the body is unable to synthesise tryptophan for itself. For this, we rely entirely on its intake through our diet. So, tryptophan’s journey begins in our food. Once ingested, through our normal digestive processes, tryptophan makes its way into the bloodstream to be delivered to cells around the body. En route to the brain, however, Tryptophan must pass the blood-brain-barrier (BBB), a highly selective, protective barrier that keeps the brain’s blood separate and isolated from the main circulation. Here, specialised transport receptors shuttle Tryptophan and other amino acids to the brain’s side of the BBB, supplying neurons and other cells of the brain.

A further complexity on this journey for tryptophan, however, is that it faces competition with other amino acids. Large neutral amino acids (LNAAs) significantly slow the shuttling of tryptophan across the BBB, reducing the concentration of tryptophan in the brain. Interestingly,  we are able to tune this process by controlling the levels of these LNAAs, by reducing our consumption of other amino-acid rich proteins alongside tryptophan. In this way, tryptophan faces less competition at the BBB, allowing more to cross into the brain to produce serotonin. Hence, optimal delivery of tryptophan from food to the brain is achieved by its consumption in a low-protein meal or snack.

Our clinically proven solution, NA2R®  has an optimised amino acid composition that contributes to the efficient uptake of tryptophan across the BBB. This makes it highly effective in increasing serotonin levels in the brain when taken daily, promoting focus, cognition, sleep quality, and stabilising mood. NA2R® can be effectively incorporated into smart foods, supplements, and drinks, providing consumers with a clinically proven natural source of tryptophan, contributing to improved performance. Contact us to learn more about incorporating the benefits of NA2R® into your products or wellness routine.