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Tired? It's not your turkey's fault

By David Liu

Rumor is still alive that eating turkey at your Thanksgiving dinner makes you feel tired because turkey contains high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that can be transformed into a sleep-inducing hormone called serotonin.

Sounds like science, but that assertion is baseless. First of all, many foods such as egg white, sesame flour and soy protein contain higher levels of tryptophan (1 gram of tryptophan in 100 grams of food) than turkey (0.25 gram of tryptophan in 100 grams of turkey). The amount of Tryptophan in turkey is similar to that found in children.  That is, the animo acid you get from the turkey served at your Thanksgiving dinner is not particularly high. 

Second, just because of high levels of tryptophan present in a food does not necessarily mean eating the food will make you sleepy or tired.

Tryptophan is one of the 14 essential amino acids that are needed to make proteins and we need to get them through food. The recommended daily allowance for tryptophan is 0.5 grams per day.

Our meals provide us an average of 1 to 1.5 grams every day. But only small fraction of it is able to reach our brain where it is needed most because the size of the amino acid is very large and not easy to pass the blood-bran barrier. As a result, only a very tiny amount of tryptophan can be used to make serotonin, which is of course sleep inducing.

If you feel tired after Thanksgiving dinner, it is probbale that you eat too big a Thanksgiving dinner, oregonlive.com cited Kerry Marinson, a registered dietician with kaiser Permanente 's Vancouver Clinic as saying.

One thing that people can do to minimize the effect of Thanksgiving dinner is drink enough water. Insufficient intake of water after eating lots of protein and sugar can make you feel sleepy before it makes you feel thirsty. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to have that effect.