Functions of serotonin

The hormone of joy and happiness” – serotonin – is a complex chemical substance, without which life becomes joyless, dull and dreary.

What serotonin is in simple words. How it affects the body. And whether it is really as important as is commonly believed.

Now we’re about to find out.

Serotonin – what is it?

In the brain, it functions as a neurotransmitter – passes impulses between nerve cells. Its quantity determines a good mood and a feeling of well-being. Serotonin reduces anxiety and protects against depression. That’s why it is so often called the “happiness hormone”.

However, only 5% of this substance is produced in the brain. A little more in platelets, some skin cells and other organs.

Most of the serotonin is formed and stored in the gastrointestinal tract. There it becomes a full-fledged hormone and takes part in the regulation of important processes.

The human body does not produce serotonin. It is synthesized by the pineal gland from tryptophan – an essential amino acid, which is contained in protein foods of animal and plant origin.

And sunlight is also vital for its production. That’s why our mood rises on sunny days and falls when it’s cloudy and gray outside.

This hormone is essential for health and well-being.

Serotonin is: in simple terms

What serotonin is responsible for

This amazing substance helps to heal any wounds, both physical and mental.

The functions of the hormone serotonin are extraordinarily broad:

Mood and depression

High levels of the neurotransmitter make us feel good moods, lifted spirits and optimistic. Decreased serotonin causes anxiety, panic, melancholy, negative intrusive thoughts, increased anxiety, unwarranted anger and even depression.

The reason is that serotonin does not give positive emotions as much as it reduces the susceptibility to negative ones. Therefore, it is more correct to call it not the pleasure hormone, but rather the “no displeasure” hormone.

Scientists have not yet come to a definite conclusion – the lack of serotonin in the body causes depression or depression reduces its levels. But one thing is certain: depression and serotonin levels are inextricably linked.


Controls the sensitivity of the brain’s receptors to the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. Its decreased levels cause even minor occasions to turn into a severe stress response.

How to increase serotonin levels in the body?


Serotonin is among the hormones that regulate eating behavior. For example, it is involved in shaping the emotional pleasure we get after we are full.

How do we raise serotonin levels in the body? Delicious food is the easiest and most accessible way . However, it is a straightforward way to binge on emotions and, as a consequence, overweight problems.

Treat yourself carefully. At the first signs of apathy, anxiety and depression don’t try to improve your condition with food or alcohol. Change your lifestyle, your diet and find ways to replenish lost resources. We’ll tell you how to do this a little later.

You can also do a DNA test. This will help you understand how you are predisposed to lower serotonin levels, how to get serotonin and which ways are right for you.

Serotonin plays an important role in many processes in our body.

Symptoms of serotonin deficiency

Enhances sleep

Stimulates areas of the brain that control sleep and wakefulness cycles. Makes nighttime sleep deeper and more restful, and morning sleep less intermittent.

And serotonin is also a precursor of the sleep hormone melatonin. Therefore, only sufficient levels of this neurotransmitter creates the necessary amount of melatonin, and therefore contributes to a deeper and fuller sleep.

Helps with digestion

Increases intestinal peristalsis, and controls many gastrointestinal functions.

Neutralizes food poisoning

When toxic substances enter the body in large quantities (poisoning), the body produces an increased production of serotonin. This causes nausea and diarrhea, which displaces harmful substances.

Increases blood clotting

With serotonin, which accumulates in platelets, constricts small arteries. This promotes blood clotting and wound healing.

Maintains bone health

It has already been proven that low serotonin levels can lead to osteoporosis.

It also affects
Muscle, pituitary, cardiovascular, hormonal and endocrine systems. Also on brain neuroplasticity, character, attention, memory, communication, learning ability, sexual function and childbirth.

How to increase serotonin production in the body?

Serotonin Deficiency
Among the causes of serotonin deficiency in the body, scientists say:

A low number of brain cells responsible for the production of serotonin;
lack of receptors that can receive serotonin;
or a lack of tryptophan.

or a lack of tryptophan.
If the body is deficient in serotonin, both physical and mental health suffer:

  • Emotional and nervous disorders from low and severe mood swings to depression and bipolar disorder;
  • Constant fatigue and loss of energy;
  • migraine;
  • intestinal problems;
  • sleep and wakefulness disorders – they can be reversed;
  • cognitive decline: memory, attention, concentration on tasks.
  • However, these signs can also indicate that the body is lacking dopamine. It is another hormone and neurotransmitter that handles a huge range of tasks.

How do you determine neurotransmitter levels? Doing the MyNeuro DNA test is the easiest and most objective method.

How to restore serotonin in the body?

Causes of serotonin deficiency
Common causes:

  1. Fast food cravings;
  2. Food with a low content of useful micro- and macronutrients;
  3. Low protein and complex carbohydrates in the diet;
  4. vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies;
  5. lack of sunlight;
  6. excessive caffeine and/or alcohol;
  7. chronic stress;
  8. excess estrogen;
  9. gastrointestinal diseases;
  10. circulatory disorders;
  11. thyroid disorders;
  12. heart disease and other disorders of the cardiovascular system;
  13. menopause;
  14. abuse of sedatives, benzodiazepines, or sleeping pills;
  15. A person’s genetic characteristics.
  16. Where to get serotonin?

Symptoms of serotonin deficiency in the body

  • Frequent and prolonged headaches;
  • Constant craving for sweets and cravings for unhealthy foods;
  • Digestive disorders: stomach pain, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, etc;
  • problems with sleep: it is difficult to fall asleep in the evening and to wake up in the morning;
  • frequent unexplained anxiety and restlessness;
  • fatigue, even after waking up;
  • loss of vitality and productivity;
  • decreased libido;
  • impaired memory and concentration.

Prolonged serotonin deficiency can also lead to more serious consequences:

  • Panic attacks, and not always due to nervous tension;
  • Constant depression – no vitality or desire to do anything;
  • Depressions, which may become chronic;
  • Inability to control own emotions;
  • impairment of thought processes – constant distraction and inability to remember even basic information.

How to increase serotonin levels

Since the human body can not produce serotonin on its own, our body needs tryptophan from outside. We can only get it from food or supplements.

However, there is no serotonin in its pure form in food. But fortunately, and literally, the body synthesizes it from tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in many foods.

Most tryptophan is found in foods high in protein, iron, riboflavin and vitamin B6.

There’s an important point here!

Tryptophan foods alone do not increase serotonin levels. It requires carbohydrates, which cause the body to release more insulin. And he, in turn, helps to absorb amino acids and increases the activity of tryptophan in the blood.

Therefore, for a greater effect tryptophan products are better to eat together with useful complex carbohydrates – buckwheat, rice, oatmeal or wholemeal bread. Buns, desserts and pies do not belong here 🙂

It is believed that the physiological need for tryptophan is from 250 mg/day.

Where can one get tryptophan from to feel happier, calmer and more energetic?

Foods Rich in Serotonin

Foods that boost serotonin
The main sources of tryptophan are protein foods. And not only meat!

Fatty Fish
Only two portions of cod, salmon, pink salmon, chum or herring a week, and you will provide yourself with a sufficient amount of tryptophan. And as a nice bonus, you’ll maintain your musculoskeletal and skin health.

The main thing is to cook them properly! Fat reduces the benefits. The best option is to make an omelet or boil eggs.

Grains and seeds
A great option for vegetarians, as the amount of tryptophan in these foods can compare to fatty fish, eggs, and poultry.

Want a boost of happiness and optimism throughout the day? Instead of a sausage sandwich, take a handful of cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts for a snack. Tryptophan, protein, vitamins, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, and fiber are the true longevity kit.

Serotonin boosters

What else?

  • Hard cheeses;
  • tofu;
  • legumes: peas, beans, lentils;
  • beef, pork;
  • chicken, turkey, goose;
  • spinach;
  • tomatoes, carrots, beets;
  • calamari;
  • sunflower seeds, sesame seeds;
  • fatty cottage cheese;
  • porcini mushrooms;
  • bitter chocolate high in cocoa beans;
  • pineapples;
  • bananas;
  • dates.

Another source of good mood is foods rich in B vitamins. They affect the functioning of nerve cells and stimulate the formation of serotonin:

  • garlic;
  • soy (grain);
  • salmon, mackerel, tuna;
  • mushrooms;
  • beef liver and kidneys;
  • feta;
  • quail eggs.

It is important to remember that natural antidepressants rich in tryptophan – dark chocolate, bananas, dates and nuts – are high in fat and sugar. So eating a couple of bars of chocolate or a kilo of bananas every day is not an option.

The unrestrained consumption of these products can cause the “sweet tooth syndrome”. The body quickly becomes accustomed to the fact that sweets increase serotonin levels, and at the slightest decrease in mood or anxiety will require even more. And hello, overweight and insulin resistance!

So really the way to happiness is through the stomach? Are there other ways – how to increase serotonin in the body?

Of course there are! Here’s the story.

What is serotonin in the body?

How to increase serotonin in the body without food
Reducing stress levels
Frequent or prolonged stress = lots of cortisol = little serotonin. What to do. Level out any stress, big or small. For example, with yoga, massage, relaxing baths or meditation.

Nordic walking, light jogging, swimming, cycling, cardio training, dancing and even leisurely walks – just 30-40 minutes of any physical activity increases serotonin levels in the blood.

The main thing is that exercise should be regular. And watch the load – it should be pleasant and moderate, and for this purpose it is necessary to choose correctly a sport. The MyWellness DNA test is an ideal tool for this purpose.

What causes the production of serotonin?

Try to spend time outdoors every day: go for a walk, walk to the store, take public transportation to work, get off a couple of stops early. Sunlight is essential for the production of serotonin. Especially in the winter and fall, when the daylight hours are shorter.

Healthy Sleep
Train yourself to go to bed and get up at the same time. This will help stabilize serotonin production.

There are many options: hobbies, dancing, socializing with friends and family, movies, walking, learning new things, crafts. Constantly look for opportunities to get bright emotions – the more of them, the higher the level of the “happiness hormone”.

Taking supplements.
Tryptophan and the next state of this amino acid 5-HTP are available as dietary supplements. But you can take them only after consulting with a specialist. And in no case prescribe yourself on your own!

If stress has become a constant companion, and favorite activities do not please you anymore, the first thing to look at is your diet, rest and exercise regime.

And you can also do a MyNeuro DNA test and get personalized recommendations – how much to work, how to rest, what to keep your brain active and whether you need to take supplements with 5-HTP. We’re all different. And everyone’s ways of support are different.

How to lower serotonin?

Excess serotonin.
Even from a pound of chocolate a day, you won’t get an excess of serotonin.

It can occur due to improper antidepressant medication, a combination of certain medications, or drug use:

Increased dosage of antidepressants;
Taking two or more drugs that affect its levels. For example, a headache medication at the same time as a medication for depression.
In this case, the concentration of serotonin in the brain becomes so high that a “serotonin syndrome” occurs, i.e. poisoning.

Symptoms of excess serotonin:

nausea, vomiting;
bloating, diarrhea;
seizures, epileptic seizures;
palpitations, tachycardia;
difficulty breathing;
loss of coordination and spatial orientation;
excessive sweating;
dry mucous membranes;
headaches, migraines;
enlarged pupils;
worsening of vascular tone;
decreased muscular activity;
tremor or numbness of the extremities;
involuntary movement of the eyes, trembling, rolling;
deterioration of speech, up to complete absence;
sudden change of mood from joy to feelings of fear;
increased anxiety, panic attacks;
slipping into a waking coma.
When “serotonin syndrome”, it is important to provide timely and proper care or seek immediate medical attention. Otherwise, serious complications and even death can occur.

How to raise serotonin levels in the body?

How to check serotonin levels in the body
Serotonin levels in the brain can only be measured with a brain biopsy. Indirect markers are cortisol and HIAA levels in blood or urine.

The easiest and most painless test for serotonin is a genetic test.

Some tend to be melancholy and apathetic. Someone else, on the contrary, constantly radiates joy and energy. Many genetic combinations determine the “uniqueness” of each of us.

But that’s no reason to get upset if you’re “unlucky” with your genes.

Gene activity can be modulated. The main thing is to know what level of neurotransmitters you have, and how you can change your lifestyle.

With the help of DNA-analysis the specialist will make a list of personal recommendations for you – how to improve your mood, get rid of stress and become more effective.

Certified nutritionist and child nutritionist, health-coach and personal trainer in fitness and bodybuilding.
7 years of experience in nutritional medicine

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