May 09, 2022 4 min read

5-HTP is a chemical that’s naturally found in the body, but evidence suggests that supplementing with it can help improve serotonin levels. By this logic, many believe that it may offer a range of neurological and physiological benefits when taken daily.

Before you can get started with your 5-HTP dosing routine, though, you need to address one important factor–when is the best time to take 5-HTP every day?

It’s different for everyone, but you can figure out when you should take 5-HTP in a few easy steps. We’ll discuss everything you need to know down below:

Table of Contents
5-HTP Benefits
When to Take 5-HTP
How Long Will It Take for 5-HTP to Work?
How Much 5-HTP Can You Take?
Tips for the Best Time to Take 5-HTP
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • The best time to take 5-HTP depends on your unique wellness routine, but most people take multiple doses throughout the day.
  • Taking 5-HTP daily is crucial to reaping it’s full benefits.
  • You should discuss your wellness routine with your doctor to determine the best time to take 5-HTP surrounding other supplements or medications.

A row of 5-HTP capsules, ready to be divided into multiple daily doses.

5-HTP Benefits

Some areas of 5-HTP’s benefits have been well researched, while others still linger on a preliminary basis. Keep in mind that 5-HTP is regulated as a supplement in the U.S. and is therefore not intended to treat any specific condition. Still, many people are convinced that supplementing with 5-HTP can lead to some impressive benefits. For instance, one study found that 5-HTP may help to suppress hormones that induce hunger, helping you suppress appetite and aiding in a healthy weight loss routine.

Several studies (1972, 1974, 1980, 2017) have also found that 5-HTP may help improve serotonin levels to help combat depression. Low serotonin levels have often been linked to the condition, and some evidence (1985, 1990, 1992) suggests that 5-HTP could symptoms caused by fibromyalgia. Other research (1982, 1984, 1985) even suggests that it may have the ability to help manage migraines, also possibly due to it’s potential ability to increase serotonin.

Finally, some evidence suggests that 5-HTP may help improve sleep. For instance, one study found that 5-HTP combined with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) decreased the amount of time it took for participants to fall asleep. The combination also improved sleep duration and quality compared to the placebo.

Much of this evidence relies on the combined benefits of 5-HTP and GABA, and it’s important to note that 5-HTP may affect all people differently. Read “5-HTP Benefits” to learn more.

When to Take 5-HTP

There are many reasons you may choose to take 5-HTP, as well as many lifestyle factors that may impact when you can or should take your daily dosage. Some factors to consider when designing your dosing routine may include:

  • The reason you intend to take 5-HTP
  • Your total daily dosage needs
  • Your sleep-wake routine
  • What time of day is most convenient for regular doses
  • Other supplements or medications you may take daily

Most significantly, though, when you should take 5-HTP depends on why you intend to use it. Here are some guidelines that may help, but keep in mind that 5-HTP may not yet be proven to provide all of these benefits:

  • Weight management: Consider taking 5-HTP 30 minutes prior to a meal.
  • Mood enhancement: Take 5-HTP 3 times per day, ideally with meals.
  • Fibromyalgia symptom relief: Take 3 doses per day, ideally with meals.
  • Migraines: take between 2-3 times daily with food.
  • Focus: Take 5-HTP twice daily, ideally with breakfast and lunch.
  • Sleep: Consider taking 5-HTP twice daily, taking the last dose around 30 minutes before bed.

How Long Will It Take for 5-HTP to Work?

5-HTP can be absorbed in about 30 minutes, but you may not reap the benefits instantaneously. Instead, it may take around two weeks of consistent dosing to start to feel the benefits of your new 5-HTP dosage routine.

How Much 5-HTP Can You Take?

People take between 150-800 mg of 5-HTP daily, sometimes divided into two or three daily doses. The average dose is around 100-200 mg up to three times daily.

We recommend you start with small doses and increase slowly as needed, allowing several days to evaluate the effects before changing your dosing routine. 5-HTP powder may make it easier to adjust your dosage, though this isn’t the most common dosing form. Talk to your doctor for help adjusting your wellness routine.

Read “5-HTP Dosage” to learn more about how much to take for different health benefits.

Tips for the Best Time to Take 5-HTP

  • You can split your daily 5-HTP dosage into two or three increments and space your doses evenly throughout the day.
  • Some people prefer 5-HTP powder for adjusting their dosage, though capsules are the most common dosing form.
  • Take supplements with plenty of water to help avoid heartburn and improve absorption. Alternatively, you can use a 5-HTP powder mixed with your favorite beverage.
  • 5-HTP works best when taken everyday and the benefits may be more apparent over time.
  • Talk to your doctor about your 5-HTP dosing regimen if you take other supplements or medications. 5-HTP may be associated with some drug interactions, so it is important to include your doctor when making changes to your wellness routine. Read "5-HTP Side Effects" to learn more. 

Resources

  1. “Serotonin reciprocally regulates melanocortin neurons to modulate food intake” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16846858/
  2. “A pilot study of the predictive value of the probenecid test in application of 5-hydroxytryptophan as antidepressant” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4556909/
  3. “5-Hydroxytrytophan as an antidepressant. The predictive value of the probenecid test” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4596091/
  4. “l-5-Hydroxytryptophan in depression: the first substitution therapy in psychiatry? The treatment of 99 out-patients with 'therapy-resistant' depressions” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6967194/
  5. “An Open-Label Pilot Study of Combined Augmentation With Creatine Monohydrate and 5-Hydroxytryptophan for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor- or Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor-Resistant Depression in Adult Women” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28787372/
  6. “Fibromyalgia”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990568/
  7. “Serotonin precursors in chronic primary headache. A double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan vs. placebo” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3913752/
  8. “Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia syndrome” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2193835/
  9. “Primary fibromyalgia syndrome and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan: a 90-day open study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1521674/
  10. “Serotonin precursors in migraine prophylaxis” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7034490/
  11. “[Treatment of essential headache in developmental age with L-5-HTP (cross over double-blind study versus placebo)]” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6397729/
  12. “Serotonin precursors in chronic primary headache. A double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan vs. placebo” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3913752/
  13. “A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19417589/

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