What Is Serotonin?
Often referred to as the feel-good chemical in the brain, serotonin has many positive functions within the body and mind. Scientifically known as 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT, the substance works as a neurotransmitter carrying signals between cells.
The benefits of this substance are immense, including helping with stabilizing one’s mood, supporting gut health, better sleep, and sexual function, promoting bone health and aiding with blood clotting.
Serotonin helps carry out a variety of crucial roles in the body, and with so many benefits, it may be time to start considering ways to increase your serotonin naturally. While the physical benefits of serotonin are substantial, the benefits as they relate to your mental well-being are especially crucial.
In fact, serotonin is integral to your overall mental health.
Psychiatrists will often prescribe patients dealing with depression and anxiety selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Lexapro and Prozac, to name a few. While these effective and popular forms of medication are widely used, they are not natural. If you are interested in naturally enhancing your serotonin levels, keep reading for five supplements you can buy today!
It is important to speak with your doctor if you are struggling with serious anxiety and depression before experimenting with medications. If natural supplements seem like a good fit for you upon consultation with your doctor, read on to learn more about these popular substances and how they might impact your health.
5 Supplements To Increase Serotonin
According to a recent study, 40-60% of people who treat mental illness with antidepressants experience an improvement in mood and well-being within six to eight weeks. However, medication isn’t the only way you can support your mental health — many supplements are available that may help promote feelings of mental wellness.
Before self-medicating using over-the-counter options, consult a health professional to ensure that any supplements you are considering will not pose a risk to your health.
Serotonin is made from a compound known as l-tryptophan. By naturally increasing levels of l-tryptophan in the body, you may experience an increase in serotonin levels. Essentially, by increasing the metabolic precursor to serotonin, you are successfully supporting serotonin production within the body.
L-tryptophan is often used by people struggling with memory loss due to high stress and anxiety. In a study involving 23 patients, after supplementing with tryptophan, these patients saw significant improvements in their health, specifically their memory and mood regulation.
Additionally, l-tryptophan can also be used to treat patients experiencing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The building block for serotonin reportedly helps to improve mood, irritability, cravings, and trouble with sleeping.
L-tryptophan can be purchased in a supplemental form most commonly labeled 5-HTP. Research suggests that supplementing with 5-HTP helps support serotonin production and, as a result, increases mood and well-being.
Now that we know tryptophan is an essential building block in producing higher levels of serotonin, it is important to note that tryptophan is most commonly found in the digestive tract. In fact, much of the tryptophan used to support serotonin levels in the brain is found within gut bacteria. This might help explain why serotonin is so popular in treating issues related to gut health.
One study notes that probiotic supplementation led to improved mood, sleep, and energy levels after six weeks. Another study suggests that probiotics may aid with the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, potentially by helping to enhance beneficial gut bacteria.
With 1AND1 Life, you can purchase the Best Probiotic Supplement on the market and begin taking better care of your mood and wellbeing.
3. Vitamin D
While the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D as they relate to serotonin are slightly unclear, vitamin D is directly linked to serotonin production, release, and use. Additionally, if vitamin D levels are low, it can negatively impact serotonin production within the brain.
According to several scientific studies, vitamin D activates an enzyme that transforms tryptophan into serotonin. And while you can find vitamin D supplements in any local store or pharmacy, vitamin D can also be increased without supplements.
This vitamin can be increased by spending more time in the sun or incorporating foods and drinks high in vitamin D into your daily diet. Here at 1AND1 Life, we also offer a vitamin D supplement that makes taking care of your body easy.
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
So far, we have discussed supplements mostly involved in the production of serotonin.
Thus, while vitamin D and probiotics, which help create tryptophan, lead to the production of serotonin, how can we ensure the release and sensitivity of our serotonin receptors? Omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in over-the-counter gel tablets and a plethora of foods like salmon and trout. Omega 3s are notable for their mood-enhancing properties, with studies suggesting that omega 3 supplements may support mental wellness.
5. St. John’s Wort
This supplement is derived from the medicinal plant Hypericum perforatum and is popular for many health benefits. However, it is most commonly used as a supplement for low mood and mild depression.
St. John’s Wort can become potentially dangerous when mixed with other medications, so consult a doctor before taking the supplement. If your doctor decides St. John’s Wort could be right for you, you just might experience a variety of benefits.
While much more research is needed to confirm the effects of this supplement as it relates to serotonin, existing research does help to support the link.
What Are Other Ways of Increasing Serotonin?
While supplements are a great way to support healthy serotonin levels, there are several other ways you may be able to increase serotonin in your body. These are things that anyone can do, and they go beyond supporting serotonin by boosting your health and wellness in general.
Spending some time out in the sun helps your body naturally produce some vitamin D. As mentioned above, low vitamin D levels are directly correlated to mental wellness and overall health. Aiming to get at least 30 minutes of time in the sun each day may help you keep your vitamin D levels up to par.
Maintain a Proper Diet
Additionally, many people looking to buy supplements often overlook the vitamins and minerals that are naturally occurring in many of the foods we eat. By adjusting your diet to include a wider variety of omega 3 fatty acids, you can begin to increase the release of serotonin in the brain.
Maintaining a balanced diet, in general, helps ensure that you are supplying your body with the fuel and nutrients it needs, and supporting your overall health helps protect your mental health as well.
Being active is one of the best ways to increase serotonin levels in the body. It actually increases tryptophan levels in the blood while helping to eliminate other unhelpful amino acids. Some of the best forms of exercise that increase tryptophan and, consequently, serotonin levels are forms of aerobics and cardio. Getting your heart rate up for even 20 minutes a day can positively impact your overall health and well-being.
In addition to supplementing with nutrients, consider implementing the activities above into your life as well. They are low-risk habits that just might change your life forever.
Increase Your Mood, Change Your Life
Mental health is not a one-size-fits-all thing. It is a journey that takes time and commitment. What works for one person might not work for another, and it may take a process of trial and error to find routines or supplements that allow you to feel like your best self.
If you think you might be dealing with lower levels of serotonin, supplementing with certain key nutrients or herbs may help. It is always best to consult your doctor for the most personalized advice and to ensure any supplements are safe for you specifically.
At 1AND1 Life, we work hard to bring you wellness and mental health information so that you can stay informed without the hassle. No matter what path you are on, we are here to help you work towards a better version of yourself.
Whey protein rich in alpha-lactalbumin increases the ratio of plasma tryptophan to the sum of the other large neutral amino acids and improves cognitive performance in stress-vulnerable subjects | National Library of Medicine