Often known as the happy hormone, we field lots of questions on how to boost serotonin naturally in the body. And doing so without prescription medicines, too. These can come associated with several side effects like nausea or low sex drive. There is some evidence women produce 40-50% lower levels of serotonin than men. These levels seem to fluctuate most with menstrual cycles and may explain why women are more prone to depression. The good news is there are many natural ways to increase serotonin. It can be done with small diet changes and with supplements. So, let us take a quick look at what is serotonin, and why it is so important to our mood, sleep, and digestion.
What is serotonin?
It is a natural mood stabilizer. It impacts almost every part of the body, from emotions to how you move. The body produces it from an essential amino acid called tryptophan. This amino acid can only enter the body through diet, however. It’s most famous for being found in high amounts in turkey, but it is found in most of the natural foods we eat, too.
Serotonin helps regulate mood. When levels are within normal ranges, you feel happier, calmer and more focused. Low levels of the chemical can be a reason for depression. In addition, it can also stimulate the parts of brain controlling sleep and wake. This is why it is so important to find natural ways to increase serotonin if you have sleep issues.
However, while often thought of as a “mood” hormone, actually 70-80% of the Serotonin is in the gut. The remaining amount is in the brain. As a result, it regulates a lot of our gut functions. And again, it underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. Take prebiotic and probiotic supplements to do this!
How long does it take for serotonin to replenish?
There are a number of foods that increase serotonin in the body. Things like nuts, cheese, and red meat are common sources. For those seeking out a plant based diet, it can be harder to increase serotonin naturally. That’s why supplements can help. Outside of having lower than normal serotonin levels, it can become depleted artificially due to lifestyle. For example, using party drugs like MDMA or drinking alcohol too regularly. These substances cause a spike in the body’s serotonin levels which later results in a deficit.
When our body has a deficit of serotonin caused by a drug related spike, we may feel more depressed than normal. We may also crave carbs or sugary foods. This is because the body is trying to get a temporary dopamine hit (“the pleasure” hormone) to encourage higher levels of serotonin to enter our brain.
The only natural ways to increase serotonin levels is by allowing the body to return to balance. It can take up to a week. We can speed this up by taking a plant-based supplement like 5-HTP. The body converts tryptophan to 5-HTP. Then, the body converts it into serotonin. So, this provides one of the building blocks for the body to create more of it.
What is the difference between serotonin and dopamine?
So, serotonin vs dopamine. What’s the difference? Both are neurotransmitters. I.e. chemical responsible for delivering messages to all parts of the body. They both belong to a family of neurotransmitters called monoamines. While they both affect mood, they each have distinct functions.
Serotonin is the “balance chemical”. It is responsible for regulating mood and keeping our feelings stable. It should prevent any major fluctuations in happiness. This explains why low levels are so often associated with depression.
However, dopamine relates to the brain’s want for pleasure. It can drive behaviour towards things that drive a spike to that part of the brain. Quite simply, serotonin stabilizes mood and dopamine signals rewards.
Can I have too much serotonin?
While low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and other disorders, there can be too much of a good thing. Above average levels in the body can result in serotonin syndrome. Because the presence of serotonin is most abundant in the gut, often this can result in nausea or diarrhoea. Other symptoms include dizziness or confusion. In extreme cases, a person may hallucinate or get seizures. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome usually occur within 24 hours of taking a prescription medication. It is very treatable, however. It’s another reason why a natural solution offers a better way to manage serotonin levels.
Serotonin and sleep
We hear about melatonin quite often related to sleep. But, how often do we hear about serotonin and melatonin? Not that much, but did you know serotonin breaks down into melatonin? It also controls the sleep and wake function parts of the brain. Therefore, if you are struggling to sleep, one of the issues could be low serotonin levels. The short-cut is often to take a supplement with melatonin. It may work short-term but it is not a great long-term solution. The levels of it you can take orally are much more than your body would produce naturally. As a result, it is much better to find natural ways to boost your serotonin levels. In turn, it should increase melatonin levels and result in a better sleep.
Serotonin and anxiety
There are specific serotonin receptors in the Amygdala part of the brain. This part is responsible for our ancient fight or flight mechanism. When the body is stressed, it releases a chemical called cortisol within the body. Cortisol can kick off a fight or flight response, but it can also hang around within the body. This can lead to an elevated level of stress and anxiety.
So where does serotonin come into the picture? As we now know, it plays a role in keeping our mood and body in balance. A normal level of it in the body helps regulate cortisol production and helps keep the stress spikes in check. As a result, low levels of serotonin can mean higher levels of cortisol than you want. This can lead to elevated activity in the amygdala. That means the typical symptoms, which are anxiety style panic attacks.
Many anti-depressants and anxiety medications focus on increasing serotonin levels to help regulate the body and other systems.
Supplements to increase serotonin
There are many natural ways to increase serotonin in the body. We stock a variety of serotonin supplements on GreenBox that do just this. The most popular and effective is 5-HTP. It’s an amino acid that the body naturally produces. It’s also known as griffonia seed extract, and is totally natural. This amino acid is a building block for the body to produce more serotonin. The problem with 5-HTP is if you are a vegan/vegetarian, it is tough to get a large amount of this through a plant-based diet. So, supplementing with a plant based capsule is an effective way to boost the serotonin levels in the body.
Are there other natural serotonin boosters?
There are many other ways you can help boost serotonin levels. One of the easiest ways is too incorporate more exercise into your daily return. A better diet with fresh food and less processed food, will also give you body the building blocks it needs to create more. And do not forget the sun. The lack of sunlight is known to contribute to depression because of lower levels of Vitamin D. An easy way to solve the problem is to get outside more as that sun peaks out from behind the clouds.
Our Top Serotonin Supplements Selection
On top of a supplement containing 5-HTP, the other thing the body needs to maintain a normal levels for serotonin are Vitamin B6, C, D, and Magnesium. Below we have selected the top 5 products we offer, which will not only give you 5-HTP, but also a host of other vitamins to naturally boost your serotonin levels.
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#1 Serotonin Capsules with 5-HTP and sleep herbs: Innermost Relax Capsules
The most popular sleep product on GreenBox, the Innermost Relax Capsules come packed with multiple Serotonin boosting ingredients, not just 5-HTP. They also contain famous natural sleep herbs like Valerian Root and Ashwagandha. Innermost proudly reported on a customer survey which showed the following findings when taking their Relax Capsules:
- 90% said they felt they were getting a better night’s sleep
- 84% said they were feeling less stressed
#2 High quality 5-HTP Tablets: Solgar 5-HTP 100mg Complex
For those who want a simple, high dose and high quality 5-HTP supplement, these are for you. Solgar have been making top quality supplements for over 70 years. You may have heard of their commitment to the ‘Gold Standard’. It essentially means you will only ever get the very best supplement formulas from a Solgar product. These 5-HTP pills are no different. Each dose contains 100mg of 5-HTP, alongside vitamin B6 for extra efficacy. In addition, the supporting acts are the addition of magnesium and 100mg of Valerian Root. And to top it off, they are very reasonably priced. Give them a try today.
#3 Sleep Gummies: Wicked Gummy Peaceful ZZZZZ Gummies
The vegan vitamin gummy format for supplements is proving a popular option nowadays. For people who struggle to take pills, or already take a lot of capsules daily, a vitamin gummy is a great alternative. These sleep serotonin gummies of course contain 20mg of 5-HTP, as well as chamomile and lemon balm extracts. Both of which may help to calm the mind and body for sleep. It also contains vitamin B6 which is crucial in the serotonin production process.
Rather than dessert, try giving these delicious passion fruit flavoured gummies a go each evening instead.
#4 CBD oil for sleep: Vitality CBD Relax Drops
Would you like to boost your 5-HTP levels and get your CBD, too? This product provides a good daily dose of 5-HTP, along with magnesium, which again is critical for maintaining a balanced system. The CBD can complement the 5-HTP, as CBD may help calm the mind and restore balance. Hence, it allows the serotonin in the body to focus on other more important tasks.
#5 Sleep Capsules with hops: Neat Nutrition Sleep + Relax
The sleep herb that makes these serotonin boosting tablets really unique is the addition of 200mg of hops, on top of the usual 50mg of 5-HTP. It’s the only supplement that contains hops, despite the fact there is some good evidence to show that hops can be a good natural sedative. This is an excellent all-rounder supplement, with the presence of common natural sleep aids such as lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm.
Serotonin is a powerful hormone and hopefully we have shown you a few ways to naturally boost it in the body. It could be your first step to better sleep!