Serotonin is one of your brain’s neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that helps communicate information throughout your brain and body. Serotonin is known as a “happy neurotransmitter” because it’s linked with mental health and happiness. When you have sufficient and balanced levels of serotonin in your brain, you feel calm, optimistic, and relaxed. However, the adverse effects are present when you have low levels of the chemical in your brain. It’s widely researched to be one of the key indicators and links to depression symptoms like sadness and pessimism. Other symptoms of lower levels of serotonin are interrupted sleep, panic, anxiety, and food cravings.
So, what is serotonin?
The molecular formula of serotonin is C10H12N2O. That means it’s chemically created by 10 Carbon, 12 Hydrogen, 2 Nitrogen, and 1 oxygen atoms. Additionally, it’s synthesized from the essential amino acid L-Tryptophan.
The role that L-Tryptophan plays is a major one. It converts into serotonin, primarily in the brain. It also is a precursor to melatonin and niacin. There are two possible sources for L-tryptophan: diet and tissue proteins in which it is recycled during protein turnover.
Typically, an adult male needs 250mg per day of tryptophan just to maintain a healthy balance. However, a normal diet contains about 1,000-1,500mg per day.
What are the effects of low serotonin levels?
The benefits of serotonin are staggering. If you don’t have healthy levels of serotonin, some of the effects may be:
- sleep disorders
- Carbohydrate cravings
- premenstrual syndrome
There are ways to increase serotonin levels naturally. Those include eating particular foods that are rich in tryptophan, exercising regularly, and taking natural supplements.
Foods that are rich in tryptophan
- nuts and seeds
Activities that increase serotonin
- walking or running
- lifting weights
Natural supplements that increase serotonin
- Saint John’s Wort