2019 Volume 65 Issue 6 Pages 507-514
Tryptophan (TRP), a precursor of serotonin is believed to have an antidepressant effect. The pathway for brain uptake of TRP is shared by other large neutral amino acids; therefore, the best time to take TRP may be between meals. No previous study has, however, designated the time of TRP dosing to improve mood. Further, the effects of TRP on autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity are unclear. This study investigated the effects of TRP, vitamin B6, and nicotinamide-containing supplements loading between meals on mood and ANS activity in depressive young adults. Thirty depressive young adults were randomly allocated to receive TRP, vitamin B6, and nicotinamide-containing supplements or a placebo supplements twice daily between meals for 7 d. Mood was measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS). ANS activities were analyzed by heart rate variability power spectral analysis. Blood samples were assayed for plasma total TRP concentration. For analysis, TRP and placebo groups were further classified into two subgroups according to CES-D score (mild to moderate vs. severe depressive symptoms). The CES-D score significantly improved following both treatments in the severe depression subgroups, while the POMS depression score was significantly improved only in the TRP severe depression subgroup. There was no significant change in ANS activity or plasma total TRP in any group. TRP, vitamin B6, and nicotinamide-containing supplements loading between meals can quickly improve depressed mood in quite low dose in young adults with severe subclinical depression.