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Serotonin: What is it and can you enhance its levels?


Apr 3, 2024

Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid found in foods like animal products, nuts, and legumes. Most people get enough of it in their diets, and experts say that taking large amounts of it in pill form is unlikely to significantly affect serotonin levels in the brain. Research suggests that low tryptophan levels may worsen mood in people with depression, but it does not have much impact on healthy individuals. Additionally, tryptophan must cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain, which it can only do in small amounts.

Taking tryptophan supplements also carries potential risks, as serotonin is not well absorbed in the gut and may result in unpleasant side effects such as nausea and gastrointestinal problems. Another popular supplement, St. John’s wort, is thought to have a similar function to SSRIs and may be beneficial for individuals who cannot tolerate SSRIs. However, the efficacy of St. John’s wort is not well-established, and it may also have interactions with other drugs, so it is important to consult with a doctor before using it.

In addition to supplements, there are natural ways to boost serotonin levels, such as exercise, a healthy diet, exposure to sunlight, and getting enough sleep. These lifestyle changes can improve mood and overall well-being. If you are concerned about your mood, it is best to seek advice from a healthcare provider. Talking to your family doctor about any feelings of depression or anxiety is the most effective way to address mental health concerns.

By editor

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