Serotonin’s Roles and How to Increase it Naturally
I think is it a safe assumption to say that most people have heard the term serotonin and have related it to either depression or feeling good, but most people may not know what serotonin’s precise role is in their body. Therefore, this article will have several sections. First, I will begin by giving declarative knowledge about serotonin and its role in your body,
To begin, the scientific name for serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT. Serotonin is used to transmit messages between nerve cells, and it is thought to be active in constricting smooth muscles, muscles found in the walls of hollow organs like your intestines and stomach. Also, serotonin contributes to wellbeing and happiness and is a precursor for melatonin, so it also helps to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and internal clock . Serotonin is also thought to play a role in functions such as appetite, emotions, and motor, cognitive, and automatic functions . I say thought because the specific role of serotonin is not known, and it is not known if serotonin affects the aforementioned functions directly or if serotonin has a broader, overall role in coordinating the nervous system, which, in my opinion, makes the chemical more interesting to study.
Now, I will do a general review of scientific studies which aimed to link serotonin to a specific bodily function.
Serotonin also seems to contribute to the formulation of blood clots because it is released by platelets when there is a wound. As a result, there is vasoconstriction, narrowing of the blood vessels, which reduces blood flow and helps blood clots to form  .
Gastrointestinal (GI) System
Based on many scientific studies, we know serotonin has a role in the GI system because of the “well-known observation that most of the body’s serotonin is synthesized and stored in the intestine” . This is because there are “many different serotonin receptors within the intestinal wall” . However, even with numerous studies aimed to investigate the relationship between the GI system and serotonin, the exact role of mucosal serotonin (serotonin relating to the mucous membranes) remains mysterious and still requires further study . Also, serotonin plays a role in diarrhea. When you eat something toxic or irritating, your gut produces more serotonin to increase the speed your gut processes the food and expels the irritant in diarrhea .
There is a bi-directional communicational relationship between the gut and the brain, meaning there is a link between the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with the peripheral functioning of the digestive tract , and since most serotonin is stored in the gut, studies have investigated whether you can manipulate serotonin levels to change mood levels. It has been shown “low serotonin contributed to a lowered mood state” and “depleted serotonin causes cognitive impairments, with reports including deficits in verbal reasoning, episodic, and working memory” .
Additionally, another study found in healthy adults, increases in serotonergic neurotransmission resulted in “enhanced attention and recognition of positive emotional material” . Also found in that study, it seems when an individual has decreased serotonergic neurotransmission, they experience impaired attention and recognition of positive emotional material, and they focus their attentional bias towards negative stimuli . Meaning, people who have decreased serotonin transmission seem to focus on the negatives more so than people who have increased serotonin transmission which makes sense. With these studies linking serotonin to mood, there seems to be an intriguing light on the neuropsychology of depression .
As seen in the above studies, there is plenty of research connecting serotonin to various physiological functions even though serotonin’s specific purpose may be unknown.
How to Boost Serotonin Levels Naturally
In this section, I will cover and list several ways you can boost your serotonin levels naturally.
- Eat foods that contain probiotics and eat plenty of polyphenols. These two substances act as food for healthy gut bacteria which can help increase both serotonin and dopamine levels in your body. Polyphenols can be found in grapes, specific fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and dark chocolate. Healthmasters sells a gourmet pure dark chocolate which is a good source of polyphenols.
- Exercise is a great way to increase serotonin, and it does not have to be intense exercise, just daily and moderate. It has been shown cardiovascular exercise or building muscle each create more serotonin and increase neuroplasticity to boot .
- Increasing the amount of Omega 3 fats, particularly DHA, can help increase serotonin. Foods high in these fats include avocado, coconut and coconut oil, seeds, and nuts. You could also take Healthmasters’ Norwegian Omega 3 for an Omega 3 supplement.
- Listening to happy or positive music could increase positivity and cause the body to release more serotonin .
- Spending time in nature, going on a walk outside, visiting your local park, or even taking a swim is a great way to boost several neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and oxytocin. Also, even spending time in the sun without sunscreen or sunglasses has been shown to raise neurotransmitters like serotonin .
- Increasing the amount of tryptophan in your diet can also raise serotonin levels because tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. Good sources of tryptophan include pumpkin seeds, pineapple, Brazil nuts, pecans, and walnuts.
- Most importantly, it is vital that you have adequate amounts of co-factors that support serotonin. These include taking therapeutic doses of magnesium, zinc, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin B6 . Respectively, Healthmasters’ Magnesium and Malate Acid or Magnesium Brain Food, Healthmasters’ Zinc Glycinate, Healthmasters’ Folate Max, Healthmasters’ Excellent C, and Healthmasters’ Corticare B5 B6 are great sources of these nutrients.
These are some ways to help your body produce more serotonin, but there is still one, exceptional way: taking 5-Hydroxytryptophan.
Your body uses 5-HTP to help increase serotonin levels, and like tryptophan, 5-HTP is a precursor for serotonin. Many studies have shown promising results with 5-HTP and depression    . Healthmasters’ 5-HTP CR is an exceptional controlled-release 5-HTP supplement which research backing the formulation. If you are interested in reading about the product, click here.
So, in this article, we investigated researcher’s attempt to draw direct links between serotonin and physiological activities and discovered some ways you can increase serotonin levels naturally. While the exact role of serotonin may be unknown, which this has caused serotonin to be seen as the unicorn of hormones, serotonin indeed plays in important and influential role in your body.
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