What is serotonin?
Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another.
How is serotonin made?
Serotonin begins with tryptophan, an amino acid, and specific nutrients that convert it into 5- HTP which is then converted into serotonin.
What does serotonin specifically do?
Serotonin influences brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior.
Are you low in serotonin?
If you are low in serotonin, you are likely to be experiencing feelings of impatience, edginess, and unreasonable irritability.
If you are low in serotonin you could be a perfectionist. You may feel driven, unable to relax about grades, looks, or work. You may wonder about, or have other people comment on, your tendency to focus on a single worry such as your weight, your work, or a problem that you perceive in someone else.
You may be experiencing a cluster of traits that all have to do with a single annoying or even tormenting symptoms of low serotonin: false fear. Whether you experience it as shyness, anxiety, or panic, your fear quotient is a good gauge of how deficient in serotonin you are.
Low serotonin is also a very common cause of or factor in depression. Anyone who is currently taking an SSRI anti-depressant is on that medication because they are low in serotonin.
Besides the symptoms mentioned above, other common physical symptoms of low serotonin are:
- Gut and heart problems
- Cravings for carbohydrates, alcohol and certain drugs
- SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): You can tell if you have SAD because you will really dislike the dark weather or have a clear-cut fall/winter depression
- Sleep apnea
- Menopausal and PMS mood related problems
- Migraines, tension headaches or chronic daily headaches
- Sleep challenges
What zaps your serotonin?
- Menopause: menopausal women low on estrogen can be low on serotonin. Estrogen helps program serotonin production in the brain.
- Poor diet: short on vitamins, minerals and quality protein that are required to produce serotonin.
- Vitamin D deficiency: A 2014 study shows that serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, three brain hormones that affect social behavior, are all activated by vitamin D hormone.
- A magnesium deficiency: serotonin balance is magnesium dependent.
- An inflamed intestinal lining hinders the production of serotonin, which is produced in the gut.
- Poor intestinal flora balance: gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin.
- Chronic stress: high levels of cortisol suppress production of serotonin.
- Winter: if there is not enough bright light then there is no signal to your brain to produce serotonin.
- Lack of exercise: exercise can raise serotonin.
- Vegetarian: most vegetarian foods contain way less tryptophan than animal-derived foods.
- Stimulants: such as caffeine, ephedra, diet pills, and cocaine are serotonin enemy number one.
- Artificial sweeteners: such as aspartame (NutraSweet) is serotonin enemy number two.
Genetics may be a factor to consider.
The tendency toward depression (caused by low serotonin) is one of those traits related to neurotransmitter metabolism that can definitely be inherited. What goes on in your life can exaggerate or diminish your genetic tendencies. If you have inherited a tendency toward insufficient serotonin, a little stress and a little alcohol may plunge you into despair.
When one parent is depressed (low serotonin), the lifetime risk for the children to be affected is 17%. When both parents are depressed, the risk to their children of developing depression at any time in their life is 55 to 75%.
Studies show a higher incidence of depression in families with alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and hyperactive children. But the good news is that that the natural treatment for depression can often improve or eliminate these genetically associated conditions.
For example, if you were depressed and had an eating disorder, by correcting the depression naturally you could correct the eating disorder because your appetite and mood control centers are in the same area of the brain, and both are influenced by serotonin.
Don’t put the cart before the horse!
It is important to deal with the basic steps first before pursuing a more complicated treatment for low serotonin (unless you are suicidal or can’t function and then you should seek medical attention immediately).
The first steps for raising serotonin.
The best reference for the following steps can be found in my book “Get Off The PMS and Perimenopausal Roller Coaster, Learn 9 Natural Fast Track Solutions to Balanced Hormones” (even if you are menopausal, this is the best reference book for you).
- If you are menopausal, you should be supporting your adrenal glands so that they can make the estrogen you need (reference chapter 10).
- Improve your diet choices (reference chapters 15, 16, 17, 18, and 20). AND make sure to include foods that supply ample tryptophan (amino acid) such as mutton, venison, beef liver, calf’s liver, chicken breast, turkey breast, halibut, cod, tuna, shrimp, mackerel, salmon, snapper, and scallops.
- Supplement daily with Daily Essential Nutrients, also known as the Total Health Pack (reference chapter 6).
- Manage chronic stress (reference chapter 10).
- During the winter season take 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3.
- Get regular exercise but don’t exhaust yourself doing it.
- Reduce caffeine consumption (reference chapter 20).
- Eliminate all artificial sweeteners including aspartame, NutraSweet and Splenda (reference chapter 16).
- Make sure to balance your magnesium (reference chapter 7).
- Balance your intestinal flora (reference chapter 9).
NOW YOU ARE READY FOR THE NEXT STEPS TO RAISE YOUR SEROTONIN NATURALLY….