Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter. It helps contribute feelings of happiness. More than 80 per cent of serotonin in the human body is produced in the stomach. It helps in regulating the movements of the intestines and also to regulate appetite, sleep, mood and muscle contractions. Serotonin is found as an active ingredient in most antidepressant pharmaceuticals.
Seek a Medical Opinion
It is important that a doctor be consulted prior to attempting to replace serotonin in your body. Based on your medical history, the doctor may advise against certain methods for replacing serotonin. The doctor may also give you a prescription for serotonin-enhancing drugs. As well, a lack of serotonin may be an indication of a larger medical problem that the doctor can help treat.
Eat Protein and Take Vitamins
A high-protein diet of eggs, milk, fish, chicken and beef will help increase tryptophan, an ingredient that helps create serotonin and lower amino acid levels in the blood. When amino acid levels are reduced, a greater access to tryptophan is gained and, as a result, more serotonin is produced. Vitamins can also help replace serotonin levels. Vitamin B-6 is readily available at most grocery and health food stores. B-6 will increase the level of tryptophan in the body and thereby also increase serotonin. Follow the directions of the vitamin's suggested dosage.
Exercise helps release endorphins in the body. Endorphins are released when the heartbeat is raised during physical exercise. The endorphins react with the opiate receptors to produce more serotonin. Regular exercise helps promote stable, healthy serotonin levels. Cardiovascular exercise is best for increasing serotonin levels.
Go Out in the Sun
Natural sunlight helps increase serotonin levels in the body. Always wear sunscreen, as this will not impact the body's ability to absorb the sun's energy. Sunlight is used to treat individuals with seasonal affective disorder, and it may also help our bodies receive more vitamin D.
Lack of sleep depletes serotonin levels. After prolonged sleep deprivation, the body will adapt to the lower levels, and a person may not even know he is not sleeping enough. Go to bed early and wake up naturally. You will quickly find out how much sleep you need. Keep your bed time consistent.
Zoloft, Lexapro and Prozac are some of the antidepressants on the market. The active ingredients in these drugs are a mixture of compounds called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. According to research on SSRIs done at the University of Kansas and presented in a book, "Antidepressants: Past, Present and Future" edited by Sheldon H. Preskorn, John P. Feighner, Christina Y Stanga and Ruth Ross, "SSRi's help to increase the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor." A doctor's prescription is required and antidepressants should be a last resort.
- Drug Info: Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Serotonin
- Mark's Daily Apple: 10 Quick Tips to Boost Your Serotonin
- Seacoast: Replace Serotonin Naturally
- Ray Sahelian, M.D.: Serotonin supplements that raise levels
- "Secrets of Serotonin, Revised Edition: The Natural Hormone That Curbs Food and Alcohol Cravings, Reduces Pain, and Elevates Your Mood;" Carol Hart; 2008
- "Antidepressants: past, present, and future;" S.H. Preskorn, R. Ross, C.Y. Stanga; 2004