Serotonin: The Ultimate 2020 Guide to Increasing Serotonin
Do you want to feel calmer, more focused, and generally better in yourself?
If at normal levels within your body, there’s a chemical that promises exactly this as a mood regulator.
Serotonin is a chemical impacting your body from your bowels, blood and brain, and is associated with people feeling less anxious.
Your intake of serotonin could make the difference to your outlook and mind-set.
We’ll go through exactly how it functions in the body, and how you can increase it too.
Table of Contents
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is also known by the longer chemical name, being 5-hydroxytryptamine.
It has a crucial role to play in your central nervous system and works by sending signals through your brain. It is found there, as well as in your intestines and your blood platelets.
Serotonin has a lot to do in the body, as it doesn’t just regulate your mood and reduce anxiety.
It also plays a big part in your appetite and how you digest food, and also when you’ve been scraped, as your blood platelets release serotonin.
It can also make you feel nauseous should you consume something toxic and undesirable, helping you to expel it through flooding your gut with serotonin.
Other than how it works in the body, lower levels of serotonin have also been connected to depression. However, it remains unclear as to whether low levels of serotonin cause you to feel depressed, or whether they result from it.
If you have lower levels of serotonin than normal, you might experience anxiety and poor memory.
Recreational drugs like ecstasy flood the brain with serotonin, meaning that in the days after, your body is hit by a big decrease in serotonin, having an adverse effect on your mood and cognitive abilities.
So we’ve run through how lower levels of serotonin are linked to depression, but what happens when you boost your levels beyond a normal capacity?
Too much serotonin can cause serotonin syndrome, which is caused by nerve activity going into overdrive.
This is a very dangerous condition, and potentially fatal.
This is something to watch out for and monitor if you’re taking medications that contain serotonin, like a lot of antidepressants.
It’s really important that you seek medical advice before taking medication containing serotonin, because some may react to it worse than others.
Serotonin syndrome symptoms
The symptoms to watch out for can manifest in lots of different ways.
The signs are as follows:
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle rigidity
While these symptoms are all quite broad, there are some serious signs that require medical assistance immediately. These are:
- A high fever
- Losing consciousness
- An irregular heartbeat
How to increase serotonin
So before we go onto ways you could try to boost your serotonin levels, you should always approach your doctor about supplements and drugs because mixing them might put you at risk of serotonin syndrome.
However, if within a controlled and normal range, and if undertaken with your doctor’s advice, seeking to increase it can make you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Having a healthy diet anyway is a good starting point to looking after your mind and body, but there are some key foods you can include in your diet that can help naturally increase your serotonin levels.
You can’t ingest serotonin directly into your body through the food choices you make.
However, food containing tryptophan is the best way to do so, as serotonin is synthesised from this.
So what you’re looking for is to incorporate foods containing tryptophan into your diet. While studies are unclear about the exact relationship between serotonin and tryptophan, it has been found that when your diet doesn’t have enough tryptophan, your serotonin levels drop.
We’ll be going through some food choices you can easily opt for as a means of possibly tackling that issue.
Everyone is familiar with eggs being a great source of protein, and this also works to boost the tryptophan in your body.
The most important (and delicious) part of the egg is the yolk, and this is the part that contains all the good stuff.
Apart from being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, the yolk also contains a lot of tryptophan, which is what you’ll be looking for if you’re looking for ways to boost your serotonin.
Everyone needs an excuse to include more cheese into their diet, and being a good source of tryptophan, you can start today.
Cheese is among dairy products like milk that are high in tryptophan, and are included in most people’s daily food intake anyway.
Salmon is another great source of tryptophan, and while perhaps not as easy to add into an everyday diet like cheese and eggs, is a healthy and delicious way to boost serotonin.
4) Nuts and seeds
A big number of nuts and seeds are sources of tryptophan, and while they may not contain as much as the others on our list, if eaten daily they can really make a difference.
You could try snacking on nuts like peanuts in work breaks, or adding sunflower seeds to a salad or start your day by putting them in your porridge in the morning.
As we've touched on, combining medications or medications and supplements could potentially cause serotonin syndrome, and overwhelm your system with too much of it. So check with your doctor if you're on medications that contain it, and are looking to use some of the supplements below, as it could put you at risk.
However, we've compiled some of the supplements you could choose if you've been given the OK to build them into your life and diet.
1) Fish oil
As we’ve touched on, salmon is a good source of tryptophan, and so we’re kicking off our list of supplements you could take, with fish oil.
Fish oil is good for you in lots of ways but the good news is that it could also boost your serotonin levels.
This supplement can be bought in some high street shops, and is offered as a means of addressing and combatting feeling depressed or unable to sleep.
This is because when you take 5-HTP your body converts it into serotonin.
3) St. John’s Wort
This supplement is often associated with helping to reduce the effects of depression.
Taking St. John’s Wort makes not only serotonin but also dopamine more available to the brain.
You can take it in a capsule or even a tea.
However, you should check with your doctor before taking this supplement as it can react badly when combined with other medications.
As we’ve looked at above, tryptophan is what you’re looking to increase in your diet by going for foods like eggs, cheese and nuts and seeds.
It is really important when it comes to serotonin, as your body converts it into this.
So rather than looking at what foods you’re eating, you could also opt for this supplement as a way of increasing it in your body.
This supplement is often compared to 5-HTP but is understood as working more gently in your system. So you could try this out if 5-HTP hasn’t worked for you, but you’re still interested in increasing your serotonin levels.
However, if you're looking for something to increase your levels beyond the effects of changes to your diet, and supplements available, there are serotonin drugs out there.
Serotonin drugs work by increasing the levels in your body so as to combat the effects of depression.
They work by stopping the reuptake of serotonin in your brain, which basically means there is more serotonin available.
Antidepressants are prescribed by your doctor, so you should seek advice if you want to go for this option.
Here are some of the serotonin drugs that are prescribed for depression:
1) Fluoxetine (Prozac)
2) Citalopram (Celexa)
3) Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
There is a range of side-effects from these drugs however, that you should consider and discuss with your doctor.
You could expect to experience insomnia, headaches, restlessness and nausea for instance.
Increasing serotonin in the brain is fantastic if you are looking to relax. However, if you have work to do, it can be counter-productive.
Instead, we recommend you use Brainzyme Focus Elite. Elite is the first of its kind 3-in-1 brain supplement, multivitamin and probiotic.
It has been formulated to help you feel less tense and more positive, as well as increasing concentration, mental performance and reducing tiredness.
It is a perfect middle ground between those who have work to do and those who want to relax.