(NaturalNews) Serotonin is known as the happy hormone because the level or lack thereof greatly influences our moods and sense of well-being. Emotional stability is also affected by a number of other factors such as stress, diet, lifestyle and others. However, there is much one can do to naturally boost the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Adequate sleep and high quality nutrition are obvious basic building blocks for keeping the levels of serotonin at a high enough level to deal with everyday stress. A prolonged stressful situation, deprivation of sleep and bad nutrition can lead to symptoms of depression.
Some herbs, vitamins and amino acids when taken in supplement form are known to be helpful in supporting the production of serotonin. This form of nutritional therapy is fast becoming popular as patients pay attention to what they eat and see results in the way they feel.
Here is a list of supplements and nutrients that specifically help boost serotonin levels and so help improve mood disorders, depression and anxiety.
Vitamin B Complex They are considered by some as the "anti-stress vitamins". Low levels of essential B-vitamins like B6, B9 and B12 may affect mood, anxiety and depression. They also affect cognitive function and memory. Our brains need vitamin B to manufacture calming neurotransmitters, serotonin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).
Essential Fatty Acids Numerous studies document the enormous benefits of essential fatty acids. They from part of every cell membrane and are vital for effective brain functioning.
Inositol Inositol is necessary for proper action of several brain neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and serotonin. Inositol supplementation can assist in the reduction of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Low inositol levels may contribute to depression as evidenced by low inositol levels found in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with depression.
L-Theanine An amino acid commonly found in Green Tea, it is known to increase the alpha waves in the brain which promotes a feeling of relaxation but retains mental alertness. The bonus is that it doesn't cause drowsiness but will improve the quality of your sleep. It can be taken in supplement form.
Magnesium This essential mineral is particularly helpful for relaxing nerves and muscles. Magnesium helps improve energy levels and activates the B vitamins needed for production of serotonin.
5-HTP This is an amino acid essential to the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan. It is available in supplement form and commonly used as a natural anti-depressant. It is also thought to assist with conditions such as binge-eating, obesity and insomnia.
Other Lifestyle Changes To Raise Serotonin Levels
Bright Light Therapy Get outside for at least 30 minutes a day. Light is a common treatment for seasonal depression and studies also suggest that it is an effective treatment for non-seasonal depression too.
Get Exercising Research clearly shows that exercise increases the firing rates of serotonin neurons. This results in increased release and synthesis of serotonin. Increased levels of tryptophan (serotonin precursor) are also present in the brain long after exercise. Research on the relation between exercise and mood concluded that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects are clearly demonstrated. Treatment guides for mild clinical depression recommend various strategies including exercise rather than antidepressants because the risk/benefit ratio is poor for antidepressant use.
Important - Patients being treated with any prescription medication for mood disorders, depression, anxiety or any psychiatric condition must consult with a qualified medical professional before embarking on any herbal or supplement treatment program. This article is nutritional in nature and is not to be construed as medical advice.
REFERENCES: 1. http://5htp.com/ 2. http://www.social-anxiety-disorder-resources... 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC... 4. Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, et al. Effects of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet 2002;360:1840-2. 5. Salmon P. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clin Psychol Rev 2001;21:33-61. 6. Davis JM, Alderson NL, Welsh RS. Serotonin and central nervous system fatigue: nutritional considerations. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72(2 Suppl):573S-8S 7. Reader's Digest. The Healing Power Of Vitamins and Herbs. Heritage Publishers (Pty) Limited
About the author
Katherine Oosthuis is completing a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy. She researches and writes for a health and nutrition website Detox For Life . Her passion is to make research available to those who are looking to improve their well-being and revolutionise their health through better nutrition and alternative medicines.