Serotonin is called the “happy chemical” with good reason--it can affect your mood, relieve anxiety, and may even help you get a more restful night’s sleep. With all that serotonin does for both the mind and the body, who wouldn’t want to get an extra boost to their levels? Serotonin is produced in both the brain and the body, and carries out a variety of important tasks vital to our wellbeing. But are there any specific vitamins and nutrients that you should be paying attention to in order to help keep your serotonin elevated?
This article will examine:
- Serotonin’s effect on both the brain and body and why it’s important
- Vitamins and nutrients necessary to keep serotonin levels up
- Are there other ways to get more serotonin?
How Does Serotonin Affect the Brain and Body?
Serotonin is an important chemical to help regulate mind and body
As we’ve mentioned before, serotonin is the “happy chemical” that is produced predominantly in the brain and in the digestive tract. As both a hormone and neurotransmitter, it is responsible for many vital bodily processes. By transmitting messages between nerve cells, serotonin ensures the brain is receiving information correctly and is acting accordingly. It also contributes to the functionality of the central nervous system, and regulates our circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). By keeping the brain and nervous system running smoothly, serotonin ensures that your body and mind stay at homeostasis and you feel like yourself.
However, when serotonin levels drop, you can become out of balance, and your mood and wellbeing can be affected, or even changed. Researchers have found links to lower levels of serotonin with an increased chance for depressive symptoms, such as anxiety.
- Serotonin is an important hormone and neurotransmitter that transmits messages between nerve cells to ensure the brain and body are functioning properly.
- Lower levels of serotonin can have an adverse effect on your mood, and increase the chances of having a low mood.
Are There Vitamins that can Help Increase Serotonin Levels?
We’d all like to feel good more often, but are there nutrients that can help keep serotonin levels up?
Since serotonin is synthesized in the body, we cannot get it directly from our diet. That’s why it’s important to ensure you do get the right amounts of the appropriate building blocks in order to keep serotonin production up. This means ensuring you include these nutrients as a part of a well-balanced diet:
- Tryptophan. This amino acid first is converted to 5-HTP, and then into serotonin. One way you can keep your serotonin levels up is by including tryptophan-rich foods in your diet. Foods such as chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, seeds, cheese, and any other protein dense foods you like all contain higher levels of tryptophan. You can also take a 5-HTP supplement that will contribute to a boost in serotonin production.
- Fermented Foods. Since most of your serotonin is produced in your gut, it’s important that your GI tract is functioning properly. Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut help keep this important system alert and operating at its highest level.
- Vitamin B6 and B12. These vitamins are considered cofactors for serotonin production, which means that they are involved in helping serotonin form. Although not directly a part of the creation of serotonin, they do contribute to its formation. You can ensure you’re getting enough B6 and B12 by eating foods such as avocados, liver, lentils, poultry, and fish.
- Vitamin D. You can step outside for a walk or a short jog to soak up your daily vitamin D requirement from the sunshine, but in case you can’t, you can also find it in salmon, mackerel, cheese, and other dairy products that have been fortified with vitamin D.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Research has shown that omega 3 fatty acids are helpful to our brain’s cognitive function, which is why they are also helpful in helping the brain produce more serotonin. Make sure to include salmon, tuna, flaxseed, and walnuts to your diet.
- Vitamin C. Enjoy a regular inclusion of citrus fruits and broccoli to your diet to ensure you’re getting the right levels of vitamin C.
- While we cannot get serotonin from food, we can ensure our diet includes the vitamins and nutrients necessary to boost its production.
- By including cofactor vitamins and nutrients such as tryptophan, B6, B12, and omega 3 fatty acids, you can ensure your body has what it needs to keep serotonin production up.
Are there Any Other Ways to Raise Serotonin Levels?
You can keep your serotonin elevated in other ways
To ensure your brain and body have the right amount of serotonin, it’s important to ensure your diet includes specific vitamins and minerals. But just as diet is only one part of a healthy lifestyle, there are other ways to get a serotonin boost in your daily routine.
Exercise is essential for both our mind and our body, and by raising your heart rate each day, you can also contribute to elevated serotonin levels! Exercise helps increase tryptophan, which leads to serotonin production, and is the reason completing a workout feels so good. You could also increase your time outdoors. Not only is getting outside fun and refreshing, but it soaking up the sunshine is a great way to get your vitamin D, which assists with serotonin production. Supplements are also a great way to add the essential vitamins and nutrients required for serotonin production. Consider adding a tryptophan supplement, a 5-HTP supplement, or a probiotic supplement to your daily lifestyle.
Keep that happy feeling going and ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to aid in serotonin production. Whether you choose to do it with diet, exercise, or supplements, just make sure you discuss your goals with your healthcare provider first.