You Can Increase Your Natural Serotonin Levels

Here Are Some Ways To Do It

If you suffer from anxiety or depression , it's good to know you can increase natural serotonin levels in your body.

Adequate amounts of serotonin help put you in a good mood and it has a calming and relaxing effect on your nervous system. Insufficient levels can cause you to feel depressed or anxious. Of course, your moods are also affected by other factors like the levels of stress in your life, what you eat, your general lifestyle, etc. If you have anxiety disorders or suffer from depression, it is good to know there’s a lot you can do to naturally boost the levels of serotonin in your brain.

Two of the easier ways to boost your levels of natural serotonin are to get adequate sleep and eat a very nutritious diet. This strategy is helpful for most people dealing with an average amount of stress. If you happen to have a period of extended stress in your life, don’t get enough sleep, and eat a diet consisting mostly of junk food, you become a good candidate to develop the symptoms of an anxiety disorder as well as depression.

How Your Diet Can Boost Natural Serotonin

Your diet is very important in keeping your natural serotonin at adequate levels. Serotonin is produced by your body when it digests foods containing the natural food substance called L-Tryptophan; more commonly known as tryptophan. Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid.

Your body cannot create its own serotonin. Natural serotonin comes from the food in your diet or from a variety of dietary supplements.

The key to serotonin is the amino acid tryptophan. If your diet doesn’t contain tryptophan, your body won’t create serotonin.

Tryptophan is found in milk, lean meats, eggs, etc.

In addition to tryptophan, there is a fat called Omega 3 that is found in tuna, salmon, and other seafood. Omega 3 is a natural serotonin booster and it can also be found in high quality fish oil supplements.

Whey protein is another source of tryptophan. Whey protein is usually found in powder form and you can mix it with milk or water. You can find whey protein at health food stores, grocery stores, and department stores. It is also available online at various health-related websites.

When you eat foods naturally containing tryptophan, the tryptophan is used by your body to create natural serotonin. The serotonin moves into your blood stream, your stomach and intestines, and it’s finally synthesized in your central nervous system. This is one reason it’s important to eat a natural, healthy diet.

Unfortunately, there are some people who do not get enough tryptophan in their diets and this causes them to be low in natural serotonin. These people may want to talk to their doctor about taking serotonin supplements.

If you’re one of these people and are suffering from low serotonin, you may be interested in natural serotonin boosters. Do not take these unless you get permission from your doctor. Serotonin supplements should not be mixed with pharmaceutical SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) because this combination might actually be harmful to you or even fatal. Too much serotonin in your body can actually cause serotonin overdose , which leads to a potentially fatal condition called serotonin syndrome.

Other natural serotonin boosters are:

  • St. John’s Wort: This is an herbal treatment that is used to treat depression. Standardized extracts are usually available in health food stores but some countries require a prescription for St. John’s Wort. Do not combine it with other antidepressants because of the possibility for severe interactions, such as serotonin syndrome. Always discuss your ideas about using St. John’s Wort or any other natural SSRI with your doctor.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: Another natural serotonin booster that works by increasing blood flow. It should not be used in combination with blood thinners because of concerns about excess bleeding. Ginkgo may have undesirable side effects in those who have blood circulation disorders or who are taking anticoagulants like aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, etc. Ginkgo should not be used by people who are taking certain types of antidepressants such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It should also be avoided by pregnant women unless they get approval from their doctor.
  • Kava: If you have anxiety, kava is a natural serotonin booster that some people believe is effective in treating anxiety. Kava’s effects are similar to the effects of benzodiazepines . It can be helpful if you have sleep problems that add to your anxiety levels. Don’t take kava if you take any other sleep aids or medications…get your doctor’s permission before you take kava. Kava is known to have adverse interactions with some prescription and nonprescription drugs. These drugs include, but are not limited to anti-anxiety medications (central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines), alcohol, anticonvulsants, antipsychotic medications, L-Dopa, diuretics, and drugs which are metabolized by the liver.

Exercise Increases Natural Serotonin

Another way to increase your natural serotonin is to get regular exercise. Exercise stimulates production of natural serotonin, dopamine , and other feel good chemicals in your body. For mild depression or anxiety, exercise can be just as good or better than traditional drug therapies.

However, there are cases where your depression or anxiety can be so severe that you can’t be helped by exercise, food, or supplements. In these types of situations, you should always consult a doctor to get the help you need. Don’t try to treat yourself.

Here are a few other ways to naturally increase your serotonin:

  • Avoid cheap carbohydrates: Carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin and that’s why they give you an instant pick-me-up. However, they let you down almost as quickly and they are useless for stimulating the continual production of serotonin.
  • Eat complex carbohydrates: We’ve learned that proteins contain tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin in your brain. However, if you rely only on protein, it interferes with your production of serotonin. Tryptophan is most efficient when it is taken with a small amount of complex carbohydrates, such as a serving of brown rice, a handful of almonds or other nuts, or a serving of legumes. Complex carbohydrates are necessary to help your brain process the tryptophan in the protein you eat. Vegetables also work quite well.
  • Protein is important: Get your dietary protein from things like chicken, lean cuts of beef, fish, turkey, cheese, eggs, nuts, etc.
  • Consume healthy fats: Hormonal processes require essential fatty acids, so don’t avoid the good fats. Eggs and dairy are important. Eat fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines several times a week. Nuts, flaxseed, avocados, seeds and oils like olive or flax are also good.
  • Take high quality fish oil supplements: Fish oil contains essential fatty acids that play a crucial role in your mood and in the health of your brain.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugar: You get a temporary lift from these things but they really end up depleting important hormones that you need. If you must drink caffeine, try to drink one or two cups of coffee (or its equivalent) a day at the most. Do the best you can to avoid sugar altogether.
  • Get enough sleep each day: Many of us try to get by on four or five hours of sleep a night. It’s best to get seven or eight hours, so try to work more sleep into your schedule. It gives your body and mind time to rejuvenate.

Supplements and Nutrients That Boost Natural Serotonin

Here’s a list of supplements and nutrients that naturally help boost your serotonin levels, helping improve depression, anxiety, and mood disorders :

  • Vitamin B Complex: Inadequate levels of essential B vitamins like B6, B9, and B12 can affect depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. B vitamins affect cognitive function and memory. Our brains need the B vitamins in order to create neurotransmitters , serotonin, and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).
  • Magnesium is particularly helpful for relaxing your muscles and nerves. Magnesium improves your levels of energy and it's needed to activate the B vitamins you’re taking that are used for the creation of natural serotonin.
  • Inositol is necessary for the proper action of serotonin. If you supplement with inositol, it can help you to reduce your depression, anxiety, or panic attacks .
  • Drink green tea: It contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which helps to promote feelings of relaxation. L-theanine doesn’t cause drowsiness but it can improve the quality of your sleep.

It is very important to remember that if you think you have an anxiety disorder or are depressed to see a qualified doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor can best advise you on the proper steps to take in treating your anxiety or depression.

If you are being treated with prescription medications for depression, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, or any other psychological or psychiatric condition, you should also consult with a qualified medical professional before embarking on any herbal or supplement treatment program.

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