Serotonin is a brain biochemical that promotes restful sleep, well-being, and satiety. When serotonin levels are low, people often experience depression, anxiety, insomnia, and the urge to overeat.

Low serotonin symptoms also relate to sexual desire and function, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior.

serotonin and your brain

How Do You Raise Serotonin?

This can be done with certain amino acids and the correct vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and gut bacteria balance.  By giving your body the right raw material it can create serotonin.

The key players are two amino acids called tryptophan and 5-HTP. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning you need to get it from your diet or as a supplement because your body cannot produce it. As a supplement it is officially called l-tryptophan but it can still be referred to as tryptophan.

You cannot get 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) from your diet.  L-tryptophan, with the help of specific nutrients is converted to 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which then uses specific nutrients to convert into serotonin.

Therefore your body has to make 5-HTP out of l-tryptophan or you can take 5-HTP as a supplement.

Which Amino Acid Supplement Should You Take?

You would think that 5-HTP would be the preferred supplement as it ‘skips’ the conversion step of l-tryptophan to 5-HTP.  But in reality, many people do better with l-tryptophan over 5-HTP. There is no golden rule, but there are some guidelines that I follow when helping a client choose between l-tryptophan and 5-HTP.

Try l-tryptophan if

  • Sleep problems are part of your low serotonin symptoms
  • You are suffering with moderate to severe adrenal exhaustion

Try 5-HTP if

  • You have no adrenal fatigue
  • You have mild/moderate adrenal fatigue
  • If sleep is not one of your low serotonin symptoms

For Best Results

No matter which amino acid you choose, if you want to get the best results possible, both l-tryptophan and 5-HTP need to be taken with key nutrients so that they convert into serotonin.

belly and seratonin

The Key Co-Factors

Dr. Michael J. Norden in his book, “Beyond Prozac” states that Vitamin C is necessary to make serotonin as well adequate amounts of vitamin E and all the B vitamins, particularly B-6, niacin (B3), folic acid and biotin.

Other researchers have also identified magnesium and zinc as essential nutrients for the conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP to serotonin.

Vitamin D and Omega 3 for Some Low Serotonin Symptoms

Vitamin D and Omega 3 for Some Low Serotonin Symptoms

Although vitamin D isn’t needed for the conversion of l-tryptophan or 5 HTP to serotonin, Vitamin D activates genes in your body responsible for the release of neurotransmitters, including serotonin.  Therefore, a vitamin D deficiency can cause serotonin levels in the brain to drop while increasing the intake of vitamin D can help boost serotonin production.

Although vitamin D is included in the Total Health Pack, a person with low mood will need extra.

Each person is different, but a good starting dosage would be about 4,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D (in winter or when unable to get into sunshine daily).

Omega 3 is another nutrient that isn’t necessary for the conversion but is extremely helpful for those who suffer with the mood symptoms of low serotonin.  For example, a large Norwegian study of nearly 22,000 participants revealed that those who regularly supplemented with Omega 3 were about 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression than those who did not.

Another study at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, found that patients who received Omega 3 supplements had significantly greater improvements compared with the placebo group in scores for depression, suicidality and daily stresses.

Omega 3 is included in the Total Health Pack, but some people will need one Merry Mind Omega 3 over and above their daily Total Health Pack.

As Easy As It Gets

You have heard me speak or seen me write about the daily essential nutrients found in the Total Health Pack.  Here is one more reason to take them. These convenient packs hold all the basic nutrients you need to convert tryptophan or 5-HTP into serotonin, as well as vitamin D and Omega 3.

Remember that these packs are health specific and not gender specific which means that anyone in your family, male or female, can take them.

For complete details on these daily essential nutrients, including ingredients and articles on all the other amazing benefits of the Total Health Pack GO HERE.

Is L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP Safe?

If you are already taking an antidepressant such as an SSRI or an MAO please do not use these amino acids without seeking the advice of a qualified health care practitioner.

If you are seeing a mental health specialist for severe depression or bipolar disorder you should only use these amino acids on the advice of a doctor trained in holistic medicine.

The Total Health Packs are not contraindicated in either of the above cases. In fact, they are recommended as the foundation to any wellness program.

Tryptophan is rapidly metabolized and cleared from the body so there is no toxic buildup over time and 5-HTP is a naturally occurring compound in the body.  Thus, side effects with either amino acid are extremely rare.

The infrequent but possible side effects are:

  1. Slight morning drowsiness (which if experienced at all is trivial compared to the heavy sedation experienced with some of the traditional antidepressant medications or sleeping pills)
  2. Stomach queasiness or mild nausea
  3. Erratic dreams
  4. Slight headaches (although I know of clients you have used tryptophan to successfully treat their migraines)
  5. Transient agitation
  6. Blood pressure changes in a few who have a preexisting high, unstable blood pressure and who are over sixty years old (this symptom is not noted with people who do not have blood pressure problems)

If you experience a side effect you have the following options:

  1. Cut back the dosage.
  2. Wait 5 days. If the symptoms do not go away, then the supplement you have chosen may not be a suitable for you.
  3. Try the other amino acid.

How Much Should You Take and When?

L-tryptophan needs to be taken away from a protein rich meal or snack or it will have to compete with all the other amino acids (found in protein) that also want to get into the brain.

First thing in the morning, 3 hours after a meal/snack with protein or last thing at night are the best times to take l-tryptophan.

You can take tryptophan if you have just eaten only fruit and/or vegetables. In fact eating a bit of healthy carbohydrates at the same time can improve the uptake of tryptophan into the brain.

5-HTP does not compete with other amino acids therefore does not need to be taken on an empty stomach and absorption is not enhanced when taken with healthy carbohydrates.

The dosage range of 5-HTP is typically 50 to 100 mg one to three times per day.  Start with 50 mg and increase gradually if needed.

The dosage range of l-tryptophan is usually 440 mg to 1100 mg one to three times per day.  Start with 440 mg and gradually increase by increments of 440 mg if needed.

If you are taking l-tryptophan or 5-HTP for sleep issues, then take it before bed.  If you need to increase beyond 100 mg of 5-HTP or 1100 mg of l-tryptophan, then add your dosage before dinner.

If you are taking either amino acid for issues other than sleep, still start with your first dosage before bed, and if more is needed or you can take it first thing in the AM.

You can increase your dosage of either supplement every 2 days if you are not getting the desired result.


How Long Should You Take Them?

The lowest dose that works to reduce or eliminate symptoms should be maintained for a minimum of 90 days.  Although withdrawal symptoms will not accompany abrupt discontinuance, it is best to slowly reduce your dosage the same way you increased it to make sure that you can maintain your results.  If symptoms return on a lower dosage, then go back to the last dosage where you were symptom free.

You can find more details for self-navigation in our Great Mood e-manual titled “The Natural Way to Great Moods and Happinessfound in our online store HERE.


Poor gut bacteria can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders, especially depression. Make sure to periodically take a quality probiotic product. (like HIT). Did you know that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can synthesize gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)?

How Your Gut Flora Affects Your Mood

The latest research shows that the digestive tract and the central nervous system maintain a complex two-way line of communication via the “gut-brain axis.”

Bacteria in your intestines send chemical messages to your brain. Some strains of gut bacteria can secrete neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, which is calming) and tryptophan (which raises serotonin).

The enteric nervous system lining the digestive tract contains millions of neurons that can respond to these neurotransmitters and send signals up to the brain.

Make sure you have healthy gut bacteria.

Take HIT (Health Intestinal Tract) at least one month per year.


All of the products in this article are available at the lowest price possible through our online store at We only carry quality products that we have tried and know provide results.  Delivery is fast.  Shipping is FREE with all orders of $75.00 or more before taxes.

Copyright Brenda Eastwood 2019 – “Raise Your Serotonin Naturally

Would you like to use this article in your E-zine or website?  You may, if you include this complete write-up with it: Brenda Eastwood is a holistic health expert who specializes in Women’s Health Issues.  Her expertise stems from over 35 years’ experience as a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner.  This includes ongoing research, 17 years running a successful private practice, presenting hundreds of seminars and workshops, as well as coaching clients through her unique online Inner Circle program. Today she can reach out to even more women through her Facebook posts and her book “Get off the PMS and Perimenopausal Roller Coaster, Learn 9 Natural Fast Track Solutions to Balanced Hormones”.

For more information on Brenda Eastwood please visit or for information on her Total Health Packs visit



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