How To Increase Serotonin: Foods, Pills, Natural Tips

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Serotonin Is one nerve conduction (brain chemicals) that stabilize mood and foster feelings of happiness and well-being. It also plays a role in how well brain and nervous system cells communicate, enhances concentration, and helps regulate digestion and sleep cycles.

The body naturally produces serotonin using essential amino acids tryptophan. Although the body can make serotonin on its own, sometimes it doesn’t make enough to keep the brain and other systems functioning optimally. If serotonin levels are low, your risk of depression and anxiety increases and other problems can occur.

This article will discuss the importance of adequate serotonin levels in the body, as well as how to boost serotonin both naturally with the help of food, sunlight and exercise and synthetically through medication. and functional foods.

Why are Serotonin levels important?

Having adequate levels of serotonin is important for your mental and physical health. Too little serotonin can increase the risk of depression and other mental health challenges like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Low serotonin levels have also been linked to the development of a number of diseases, including chronic fatigue syndrome (excessive, persistent fatigue), fibromyalgia (a widespread pain condition), Alzheimer’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. progression to memory problems and mental confusion) and Parkinson’s (a neurological disease that affects movement).

It is also possible that serotonin levels are too high. This can lead to serotonin syndrome, a rare condition that can cause symptoms that range from mild (anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, tremors) to severe (sweating, fever, confusion).

There are a number of factors that can cause serotonin levels to drop too low. Including:

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  • Lack of tryptophan: The body can only make serotonin with tryptophan. The body cannot make this essential amino acid on its own, so it must be obtained through food. If you don’t eat enough foods with tryptophan, your body can’t make enough serotonin.
  • Other nutrient deficiencies: Research shows that other nutrients, including vitamin D and probiotics, help regulate serotonin production, release, and function.
  • Malfunction of serotonin receptors: In some cases, your body can make enough serotonin but cannot use it effectively. This is usually due to having too few serotonin receptors or having serotonin receptors not working properly.

Natural Ways to Increase Serotonin

Verywell / Zoe Hansen

Get enough of these feel-good foods

Serotonin is naturally produced by many plants. In fact, it is currently found in about 42 species of plants in 20 different families, most commonly in roots, leaves, stems, fruits, and seeds.

However, serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier (a protective group of cells that are tightly packed to prevent harmful substances from entering the brain), so eating foods with serotonin is not the way to go. to raise serotonin levels.

Instead, you’re better off eating foods rich in the essential amino acid tryptophan, which can cross the blood-brain barrier. Foods rich in tryptophan include:

  • Animal proteins, such as turkey, chicken and fish
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Soy products such as soybeans (edamame), tofu, seitan, soy milk
  • Nuts, including peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds

Studies show that increasing tryptophan intake can have positive effects on mood and health, especially in people with tryptophan depletion.

You should consume foods rich in tryptophan along with carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, rice, or fruit). That’s because carbs trigger an insulin response that can help carry tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier.

Probiotics for Serotonin

An estimated 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. Beneficial bacteria found in the gut (probiotics) secrete substances that are used to make serotonin.

Research shows that consuming foods rich in probiotics (including yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut) helps build populations of good gut bacteria, which positively affects serotonin production. In several recent studies, probiotic consumption was associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. More research is needed to confirm the most effective results and dosage.

Get 15 minutes in the sun

Enjoying a few minutes outside on a sunny day has a dual effect of boosting serotonin levels: Bright light is known to boost serotonin production by stimulating the body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock) .

Plus, when the skin is exposed to sunlight, skin cells convert the sun’s ultraviolet B rays into vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in the production and activation of serotonin, which has May help with mood. One study found that more sun exposure was associated with reduced depressive symptoms in elderly women.

Experts say just 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to make enough vitamin D in most people. If this is not possible, supplements are also available. Your body can still produce vitamin D even when you’re wearing sunscreen, so make sure to use adequate protection, especially if you have pale or sensitive skin.

Connecting Vitamin D and SAD

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is characterized by cyclical depressive symptoms that occur in the fall and winter months when the days are shorter and there is more darkness. This condition is thought to develop as a result of reduced levels of sun-derived vitamin D, which in turn leads to less serotonin production.

Treatment for seasonal narcissism includes medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Move your body

It is commonly known that exercise is good for mental health. How does it help? In addition to endorphins (the hormone responsible for “high movement”), research shows that physical activity promotes the release of several mood-boosting chemicals, including dopamine and serotonin. This effect seems to reduce the risk of depression in people who regularly exercise.

Try some of the following exercises to increase your serotonin:

  • Run/jog
  • Swimming
  • Ride bicycle
  • Dance
  • Skipping
  • Yoga

If those aren’t right for you, you can also benefit from low-impact activities like brisk walking, chairlifts/water aerobics, and gardening activities, like doing grass or rake.

Try Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogens are plant extracts that work to help keep the body in a state of homeostasis, the balance of the endoplasmic, chemical, and physical systems in the body. These herbs do this by improving the body’s ability to respond and respond to stress and by helping to maintain hormonal balance.

Early research suggests that certain adaptogen herbs may have antidepressant effects. More research is needed, but there is some evidence that the following may have an antidepressant effect:

  • Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea)
  • Ginseng
  • Ashwagandha

As with any complementary alternative medicine, it is important to note that these herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before trying any alternative treatments.

Stress management

Chronic stress negatively impacts serotonin production and impairs the function of serotonin receptors. That means stress management can play an important role in maintaining optimal serotonin levels.

Here are some research-backed stress reduction techniques to try:

While it’s not easy to remove stress from everyday life, simple stress management techniques can help you feel better.

Drugs that increase serotonin levels

Serotonin can also be enhanced synthesis. Antidepressants are a popular line of treatment for depressive symptoms that can be caused by low serotonin levels. There are several different types of antidepressants including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These drugs work to keep serotonin circulating in the brain for long periods of time.
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): These work by keeping serotonin and norepinephrine circulating.
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: Older class of drugs that block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOI): This drug blocks the action of an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

These antidepressants can be helpful for increasing serotonin levels, but they can also have side effects. However, these side effects can be mild and usually do not last long. They may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia or fatigue
  • Sexual problems

Sometimes people need to try a few different medications to find the right antidepressant for them. Talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects you develop, and work with them to find the most appropriate medication.


Increasing serotonin levels can be done naturally. The best way to do this is to eat serotonin-boosting foods, get out in the sun or take a vitamin D supplement, exercise, take adaptogens, and manage stress.

Serotonin can also be increased synthesis, with antidepressants. While increasing serotonin is important for reducing depressive symptoms and improving mood, it’s not that you get as much serotonin as possible. Too much can also be harmful to your health. Finding the right balance is key.

A very good word

While you can’t really tell how much serotonin you have in your body right now, you can tell when you don’t have enough. When serotonin levels are low, you may feel pale or depressed.

Not having enough serotonin is nothing to be ashamed of. Many people sometimes struggle with low serotonin levels, especially during the dark winter months. Sometimes, low levels are caused by something out of your control.

While it can be hard to feel motivated to try new things to boost serotonin levels when you’re feeling down, finding the right balance is possible.

frequently asked Questions

  • What happens when you don’t get enough serotonin?

    Low serotonin levels can lead to symptoms of depression. Not having enough serotonin is also linked to anxiety and sleep problems.

  • Are serotonin supplements safe?

    Some are, but it’s important to exercise caution when trying them. Unlike antidepressants, which are prescribed to you by your healthcare provider and regulated by the FDA, supplements do not require a prescription and are not regulated.

    However, there is evidence to suggest that certain supplements, such as vitamin D, probiotics, and adaptogens, may be helpful in reducing depressive symptoms. Research is underway.

  • Do low serotonin levels cause depression?

    Unnecessary. While low serotonin levels are often associated with depression, having low serotonin levels does not automatically mean that you will become depressed.

  • Can adaptogen herbs increase serotonin?

    Early research shows that certain adaptogen herbs, including R. rosea, ginseng, and ashwagandha, may help boost serotonin and improve mood. These herbs and plant extracts are commonly used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

    Although adaptogens show promise in terms of improving serotonin, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before trying them to make sure they’re safe for you.

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