Foods that Boost Serotonin Levels, Naturally.
Sometimes we may feel a bit down, moody or unmotivated for seemingly no reason. This may potentially be because of low serotonin levels in our brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is extremely important for regulating mood, sleep, appetite as well as having a role in learning and memory. Low serotonin levels are associated with feelings of depression, anxiety, and irregularities in sleep and appetite. Some people choose medications to boost the availability of serotonin in the brain. For those looking for a more natural and safe approach, there are a ways to increase your body’s production of serotonin by providing it with the right resources to make more. Serotonin is synthesized from the amino acid, L-Tryptophan. It is then converted to 5-hydroxy-Tryptophan (5-HTP) and then converted to 5-Hydroxy-Tryptamine (Serotonin). Vitamin B6 and Magnesium are fundamental to the catalytic conversion of L-tryptophan to serotonin. These can be sourced from food or taken as supplements.
With that said, choosing foods rich in L-Tryptophan, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium are a great way to boost your body’s natural production of serotonin. Some people like to take plant-sourced supplements with 5-HTP in them (the intermediate between tryptophan and serotonin) to increase their serotonin levels. Tryptophan is most abundant in protein rich foods, typically animal products (Eggs, Meat, Dairy). It can be found in a number of fruits, vegetables and nuts/seeds as well. Sometimes a vegetarian or vegan diet can be deficient in tryptophan. If eating animal products is not an option, supplementation with nutritional products works well. It is important to eat a carbohydrate (such as a piece of fruit, rice, potatoes or any natural sugary/starchy food) in conjunction with a tryptophan rich meal because this will increase the absorption of tryptophan, and thus increase serotonin levels. Here is a list of foods containing Tryptophan, B6 and Magnesium to help you as a guide.
Dietary Sources for Tryptophan:
- Animal Meat (Chicken, Turkey, Red meat)
- Dairy products
- Pumpkin, sunflower seeds, and almonds
Dietary Sources of Magnesium:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Nuts and Seeds
- Dark Chocolate
Dietary Sources of B6:
- Sunflower Seeds/Pistachios
- Turkey, Chicken and Red Meat
- Prunes, Apricots and Raisins