Q&A: Why doesn’t your Collagen add Tryptophan?


February 21, 2021


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Quick Summary

Though collagen possesses unique amino acids and bioactive peptides, it’s missing the essential amino acid, Tryptophan. So, why wouldn’t we add in Tryptophan to our multi collagen complex (like other brands) to make it a “complete” protein? Here’s why.


I’ve seen another collagen product add in the amino acid Tryptophan to their powder? Is their collagen better because they do?Sarah

This is a very science-y type of question, and many people won’t/don’t care to dive deep into this topic. But, we are absolutely here for it and love the question!

There’s a few parts to our answer, so let’s start with focusing on the amino acid, Tryptophan.

Why Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained through your diet.WebMD

As we explored in Collagen vs Whey (see amino acids section), collagen contains 19 amino acids, including 8 of the 9 essential amino acids. It’s missing the essential amino acid, Tryptophan. 

Tryptophan is missing in Collagen
Collagen loses Tryptophan, but offers 2 unique amino acids that Whey lacks. Learn more: Whey vs Collagen (Anchorman style!)

Why would a collagen product want to add Tryptophan?

Simply put, to be considered a “complete protein”. Even though collagen contains a different spectrum of amino acids, it’s missing the amino acid Tryptophan and thus not considered a complete protein.

This is the main motivation behind a collagen product adding Tryptophan.

Collagen with L-Tryptophan Nutrition Facts
This multi collagen protein powder adds in 140mg of fermented L-Tryptophan

Is this a legit claim or bogus marketing claim?

Is adding in Tryptophan to collagen powder legit, or simply a bogus marketing play? “This is an interesting idea, and seems like a legit claim”, commented Dr. Cate.

Here’s more from Dr. Cate:

The production of the L-Tryptophan is likely by a GMO, namely a bacteria that has been genetically manipulated to produce more of the stuff, then the tryptophan needs to be isolated from the bacterial slurry. Lots of processing steps! But could end up with a legit product if done right.

So the big takeaway is, yes it’s legit — if done correctly.

Why doesn’t CB Supplements add in Tryptophan?

Now we’re getting to the core of this Q&A! Why don’t we believe in adding this missing amino acid to our multi collagen complex to ensure it’s a “complete protein”?

The short and sweet answer is that we believe that you should get your overall nutrition from food first, then supplement.

Therefore, we don’t recommend taking a protein powder supplement to get all your essential amino acids because these amino acids are very fragile and processing (aka putting them into a collagen powder) often destroys them while, at the same time, generating toxins.

The idea that you need to supplement collagen to get tryptophan is flawed.Dr. Cate, M.D.

Final Thought

Collagen Protein's Superpower - Connective Tissue Building

Does it bother us that collagen isn’t considered a complete protein? Absolutely not. In fact, we embrace the fact that collagen isn’t a complete protein because it possesses unique amino acids and bioactive peptides.

So, the less manufacturing our collagen needs (e.g. adding in tryptophan) in combination with a strong and transparent emphasis on overall nutrition, seems like the best decision for CB Supplements, our products, and our customers.

Collagen is a joint health, digestive support, and overall health supporting supplement — not a protein supplement. You’d be far better off getting all your essential amino acids from food.Dr. Cate, M.D.

More helpful resources

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This Collagen College™ article created by:


Eric Sharp CMO

Eric Sharp

Eric discovered collagen back in 2019 (thanks to Charlie) and been a believer since. He brings 20+ years of digital marketing experience to the CB Supplements team. As CMO, he's directly responsible for crafting the CB Supplements positioning, content, branding, and overall marketing direction.



Dr. Cate

Dr. Cate Shanahan is our Medical & Scientific Advisor. She is a Board-certified Family Physician, biochemist trained at Cornell University, and New York Times Bestseller.

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