Difference of Opinion Over L-Tryptophan Use


I was greatly disturbed by the April 26 column “Food & Common Sense” by Dr. Jean Mayer and Jeanne Goldberg that insinuated L-Tryptophan, when taken as a nutritional supplement, is hazardous to health.

They claimed a rare blood disorder that created a recent wave of illness and death was brought on by the vitamin supplement form of L-Tryptophan, and they discounted the possibility that a contamination in a particular batch might have been the cause.

The same day their column appeared, an article in the Washington Post reported that Centers for Disease Control researchers had traced all of the fatalities and illnesses in question to contaminated L-tryptophan made by a Japanese manufacturer--Showa Denko Co.


Theoretically, people who maintain a diet of properly prepared, well-balanced meals, organically grown in environmentally pure conditions--and who get plenty of rest and exercise--may not need nutritional supplements. However, it is widely agreed that for those who don’t always eat right--and for smokers, drinkers, the aged, athletes and others with special needs--additional nutrients are required. It would be unfortunate if the Mayer-Goldberg attack affected any of the individuals who need a supplemental “insurance policy.”

--ELLIOTT BALBERT, President Natrol Inc., Chatsworth