Greetings from a post-Thanksgiving, post-tryptophan stupor.
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as tryptophan. Then Frederick Hopkins (June 6, 1861 – May 16, 1947) invented vitamins, including tryptophan.
Frederick did not have an auspicious academic beginning. He was actually expelled from high school for truancy (which when you think about it makes no sense—you aren’t showing up for school so we’re going to make sure you never show up again. Huh?)
Since he didn’t have a degree (and I kid you not about this) he became an insurance salesman. However, Fred was an ambitious sort of fellow and since he was going to win a Nobel Prize later in life he ate his vitamins (even though they didn’t exist yet) and went to night school. He got a degree in chemistry, worked as an assistant in a criminal forensics lab, and eventually saved up enough money to go to medical school.
In 1901 he discovered tryptophan (which is an amino acid).
He was keenly interested (I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate the word “keenly” into a blog—success!) in how cells obtain energy in the metabolic process, and in 1907 he discovered that oxygen depletion causes the build of lactic acid in muscles. (Now are you digging this dude?)
He then went on to discover vitamins (kindly read that word with the British pronunciation since our good friend of the vitamin fetish was in fact British).
He discovered that a diet that only included pure proteins, carbs, fats, minerals, and water don’t make for a healthy animal. He figured out that “accessory food factors” were missing. But the advertising world realized that no one could possibly sell “accessory food factors” and vitamins were invented (especially in the Flintstone form).
The Nobel Committee agreed to take their vitamins and to give him (and co-researcher Christiaan Eijkman) the 1929 Nobel Prize in Physiology for Medicine.
During WWI, Fred was asked to study the nutritional value of margarine. Which he did and discovered it was “inferior to butter because it lacked the vitamins A and D.” Ta-da! Enter vitamin enriched margarine. See how these things happen?
But back to tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid which is a building block for protein. (Pay attention. There may be a quiz later.) Our bodies (ourselves—you’re too young to get the reference. Let it go.) can’t produce tryptophan but that’s ok, because we get tryptophan from lots of food.
And here’s the kicker: Tryptophan does not make us sleepy.
According to WebMD (along with some weird references to Harry Potter movies), tryptophan doesn’t make us tired until mixed with carbs (of which there are plenty on Thanksgiving). WebMD also suggests that alcohol, relaxing with family, and watching football probably make us more sleepy than tryptophan (with or without carbs). And I put in the part about football, not them.
Since you took your nap prior to the Carving of the Bird, I’m inclined to agree that other factors are more influential than turkey.
Happy Leftover Day!