Tryptophan is an essential amino acid.
The molecular formula of tryptophan is C11H12N2O2
Amino acids generally are explained further in the column on the rightin further detail below. Briefly, there are two types of amino acid:
- Those that can be synthesized by the body itself (non-essential amino acids), and
- those that, although necessary for the healthy growth or maintenance of the body, cannot be produced by the body itself.
This second type of amino acids are called essential amino acids, and are also referred to as indispensible amino acids in some textbooks.
Tryptophan is one of those amino acids that are necessary and cannot be produced within the body. Therefore it is an essential amino acid, meaning that it is an essential part of a healthy diet.
For further information about amino acids in general, see Amino Acids.