This article will help you understand Serotonin, including what is does, how to increase your levels of Serotonin, and what medications can increase or decrease the levels of Serotonin in your body. It is not meant to constitute or replace medical advice.
What is Serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that helps relay signals from one area of your brain to another. It’s interesting to note that while serotonin is manufactured in your brain, where it performs its primary functions, 90% of your serotonin is found in your digestive tract and in blood platelets. Almost all of your brain functions are regulated by serotonin. Serotonin affects your mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory, temperature and other functions. Research suggest that an imbalance in serotonin levels can lead to depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic and even extreme anger.
Natural ways to increase it. There are no foods that can directly increase your body’s level of serotonin. That being said, there are certain foods that can increase your body’s level of tryptophan, the amino acid your body needs to make serotonin. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that eating foods high in tryptophan, such as meat, chicken, dairy products, and nuts, actually causes the level of tryptophan in your body to drop. (Drops in serotonin levels have been linked to women on high protein diets, such as Atkins or South Beach.) But if you eat a high carbohydrate meal, your body triggers a release of insulin, which causes the amino acids in your blood to be absorbed into the body, with the exception of tryptophan. This leaves the tryptophan in your blood at high levels where it can enter your brain and increase your serotonin levels. High carbohydrate foods include cereals, bread, bagels, rice, pasta and most fruits.
Vitamin B-6 can also increase the rate at which tryptophan is converted to serotonin. Foods high in B-6 include bananas, peanuts, walnuts, spinach and most species of fish.
Medications that affect its release. Certain medications can increase or decrease the amount of serotonin in your body. Antidepressants such as Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Lexapro increase serotonin levels. Diet pills, pain medications, and certain narcotics can all lower your serotonin levels. Please make sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you are taking, as certain antidepressants can have dangerous interactions with other medications. For example, certain migraine medications called triptans can interact with SSRIs (a type of antidepressants) and cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially life threatening condition that occurs when serotonin levels in your body are too high. Your doctor can advise you on other potential drug interactions.
I hope you found this information helpful.