It’s helpful to know how to increase serotonin levels, especially if you are a “moody person”. Serotonin is known as the “happy hormone” because the level or lack thereof greatly influences our moods and sense of well-being. Emotional stability is also affected by a number of other factors such as stress, diet, lifestyle and others.
Tips on how to raise serotonin levels may be helpful if you are suffering from mild depression. There is much one can do to naturally increase the serotonin levels in the brain especially through diet.
Adequate sleep and high quality nutrition are obvious basic building blocks for keeping the levels of serotonin at a high enough level to deal with everyday stress. A prolonged stressful situation, deprivation of sleep and bad nutrition uses up serotonin and also prevents the brain from producing serotonin in sufficient levels to replace that which has been used. Diminished serotonin levels can lead to symptoms of depression.
You don’t get serotonin directly from your diet, your brain produces it by using a combination of essential fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins and minerals. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in red meat and poultry, oily fish, nuts, seeds, bananas and plums, which is extremely important to make serotonin. Some herbs, vitamins and amino acids when taken in supplement form are known to be helpful in supporting the production of serotonin. This form of nutritional therapy is fast becoming popular as patients pay attention to what they eat and see results in the way they feel.
Here is a list of supplements and nutrients to include in your serotonin diet that specifically help increase serotonin levels and so help improve mood disorders, depression and anxiety.
B - Complex Vitamins
Considered by some as the “anti-stress vitamins”, low levels of essential B-vitamins like B6, B9 and B12 may affect mood, anxiety and depression. They also affect cognitive function and memory. Our brains need vitamin B to manufacture calming neurotransmitters, serotonin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).
Essential Fatty Acids
Numerous studies document the enormous benefits of essential fatty acids. They from part of every cell membrane and are vital for an effective brain functioning. The easiest way to significantly raise dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids and tryptophan to your diet by is by taking a fish oil supplement.
Inositol is necessary for proper action of several brain neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and serotonin. Inositol supplementation can assist in the reduction of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Low brain inositol levels may contribute to depression as evidenced by low inositol levels found in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with depression.
An amino acid commonly found in Green Tea. It is known to increase the alpha waves in the brain which promotes a feeling of relaxation but retaining mental alertness. The bonus is that it doesn’t cause drowsiness but will improve the quality of your sleep. Can be taken in supplement form.
This essential mineral is particularly helpful for relaxing nerves and muscles. Magnesium helps improve energy levels and activates the B vitamins needed for production of serotonin.
5-HTP - (from seeds of the Griffonia Simplicifolia, a West African medicinal plant.)
An amino acid essential to the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan. It is available in supplement form and commonly used as a natural anti-depressant. it is also thought to assist with conditions such as binge-eating, obesity and insomnia.
As mentioned above, tryptophan is and essential amino acid and a key precursor in the production of serotonin. This is a list of foods rich in tryptophan: chocolate, oats, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame seeds, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts.
Bright Light Therapy
Get outside for at least 30 minutes a day. Light is a common treatment for seasonal depression and studies also suggest that it is an effective treatment for non-seasonal depression too.
Get exercising! Research clearly shows that exercise increases the firing rates of serotonin neurons. This results in increased release and synthesis of serotonin.
Increased levels of tryptophan (serotonin precursor) are also present in the brain long after exercise. Research on the relation between exercise and mood concluded that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects are clearly demonstrated.
Treatment guides for mild clinical depression recommend various strategies including exercise rather than antidepressants, because the risk–benefit ratio is poor for antidepressant use in patients with mild depression.
Take Note - Patients being treated with any prescription medication for mood disorders, depression, anxiety or any psychiatric condition must consult with a qualified medical professional before embarking on any herbal or supplement treatment program. This article is not to be construed as medical advice.
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