Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is associated with mood. In fact, most pharmaceutical antidepressants are designed to increase the availability of serotonin in the brain. It is believed that by increasing serotonin, mood will improve and therefore depression will be treated.
Antidepressant drugs are not the only way to increase serotonin. Below are 10 ways you can naturally boost serotonin levels and hopefully improve mood.
Vitamin D from the sun is important for producing serotonin. Without it, serotonin production is impaired.
Serotonin production requires all the B-vitamins, especially vitamins B6 and B12. Vegetables and whole-grains are good sources of B-vitamins.
Poor sleep reduces serotonin concentrations. Therefore getting 7-9 hours of sleep is essential for a healthy mood.
It is believed that one of the reasons exercise improves mood is because of its serotonin-boosting effects.
Although omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., fish oil) does not directly increase serotonin levels, it makes the cells more sensitive to serotonin. This helps serotonin to work more effectively.
There are several herbs and nutraceuticals that can increase serotonin. St John’s wort is the most commonly known. However, the spice saffron can also increase serotonin levels. In fact, saffron has been shown to be an effective natural antidepressant.
High levels of the stress hormone cortisol, can lower serotonin concentrations. So reducing stress levels, and learning more effective ways to deal with stress is important. Learning relaxation exercises and/or meditation is definitely helpful.
Eating processed, refined, and unhealthy foods inflame the body. Inflammation lowers serotonin levels. So eating a healthy diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, herbs/spices, and healthy fats is important.
Serotonin is made from the amino acid, tryptophan (derived from protein). So it is important that you consume high-protein foods every day. These include chicken, fish, turkey, beef, eggs and legumes.
Excess bodyfat can reduce serotonin levels. This is because fat cells are pro-inflammatory. As stated earlier, inflammation lowers serotonin.