If you’re wondering how to increase serotonin levels, you’ve come to the right place! Below, we have a complete guide to help you understand what serotonin is. Also what it does, and how you can boost it as effectively as possible. By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll have a complete serotonin-boosting shopping list of foods to stock up on for a healthier & happier you!
Serotonin 101: What Is It and What Does It Do?
Serotonin, also known as 5-HT, is a neurotransmitter produced in the pineal gland of your brain. The neurotransmitter is best-known for its positive effect on your mood—specifically. High levels of serotonin can make you feel better, happier, and give you a better sense of well-being. There’s a reason it’s called the “feel good chemical”!
Low levels of serotonin have been linked with depression. Which is why antidepressants are manufactured to help boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin also plays a role in our mood, emotions, memory formation and recall cravings, sleep habits, digestion, appetite, body temperature regulation, and sensations of pain. As you can see, it’s a VERY important neurochemical!
Foods to Boost Serotonin
There are two main nutrients that play a role in the body’s production of serotonin: tryptophan and Vitamin B.
- Tryptophan is an amino acid, one of the “non-essential” amino acids (that aren’t required for building muscle). It is a precursor to serotonin, as it is required to produce the 5-HTP your brain turns into 5-HT. Low levels of tryptophan have been linked to low serotonin levels. So eating more tryptophan-rich foods can help to increase your brain’s serotonin production.Enter your text here...
- B Vitamins including Vitamin B1, B2, and B6 are all needed for the production of serotonin. These vitamins work with magnesium, calcium, and selenium to produce the hormone in your brain. In fact, they are responsible for the production of ALL neurotransmitters, not just serotonin.
Simply put them to increase the serotonin levels in your body. You need to increase your intake of foods that contain these nutrients.
Some of the best foods to eat include:
- Turkey – Have you ever noticed that you feel sleepy after a heavy turkey dinner? This has less to do with the fact that you overeat and more to do with the tryptophan in the turkey. Turkey is the best natural source of tryptophan. Which your body converts to both the feel-good chemical serotonin and the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. A few more servings of turkey per week can raise your serotonin levels visibly.
- Chicken – Chicken may not contain as much tryptophan as turkey. But all poultry contains a pretty hefty dose of this amino acid (along with the nine essential amino acids, of course). You’ll get about 350 milligrams of tryptophan from a four-ounce serving of chicken breast. Making it a food you definitely want on your menu!
- Bananas – Bananas actually contain serotonin, rather than just the tryptophan required to produce it. Each banana contains about 15 micro-grams of serotonin, but plantains (in the banana family) contains closer to 30 micro-grams. Now you’ve got an excuse to eat Cuban fried plantains or banana splits!
- Kiwis – Kiwis are another excellent source of serotonin. It also has six micro-grams of the neurotransmitter per gram of kiwi. Plus, they’re loaded with brain-boosting antioxidants and Vitamin C!
- Tomatoes – For every gram of tomatoes, you get about 220 milligrams of serotonin. That’s a pretty hefty dose for a vegetable (technically, it’s a fruit, but who cares?). Which is one reason tomatoes are one of the most potent serotonin-boosting foods to add to your diet.
- Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (85% or higher) will deliver nearly 3 micro-grams of serotonin per gram of chocolate. On the other hand, dark chocolate with a lower cocoa content (70 to 85%) will give you more tryptophan—over 13 micro-grams per gram of chocolate. Either way, dark chocolate is definitely a food you want more of if you want to increase serotonin levels.
- Eggs – Eggs are so much more than just an amazing protein source. They’re also rich in tryptophan, with 210 milligrams of the amino acid per 3.5 ounces of eggs. Adding more eggs to your diet can help to boost your tryptophan intake, providing the precursor amino acids your body needs to produce serotonin.
- Seafood - Crab, shrimp, and fish are all good sources of tryptophan, with anywhere from 200 to 400 milligrams per four-ounce serving. The high Omega-3 and B vitamin content of these seafood choices also make them excellent for your health.
If you want to boost serotonin levels naturally, these are the foods to try!
Natural Serotonin Boosters
Food isn’t the only way to increase your serotonin, but you have a few more natural options to consider:
- B Vitamins – Taking a B vitamin complex can help to deliver the Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 your body needs to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. A higher B vitamin intake has been proven to lead to lower rates of depression and anxiety.
- More sunlight – Your brain produces more serotonin on sunny days than it does on cloudy or rainy days. This is believed to be the reason why gloomy, overcast, and dark days contribute to higher instances of seasonal effective disorder, a form of depression that sets in during the dark winter days. If you want to increase serotonin production naturally, spend more time in the sun!
- Try St. John’s Wort – St. John’s Wort is a natural supplement you can take to help maintain healthy serotonin levels. It works similar to the SSRI’s that are used in antidepressants, and stops your brain from breaking down serotonin. It can preserve your neurotransmitter levels to keep your mood and emotions stable.
Want to feel better? It’s all about the serotonin! Maintaining healthy serotonin levels will ensure that your brain has the chemicals it needs to regulate mood, anxiety, emotions, pain sensation, cravings, and more. Try these serotonin-boosting foods and remedies to give your body what it needs to produce more serotonin.