Jun 14, 2013

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What serotonin is and how to develop more natural serotonin

What’s serotonin?

Serotonin is developed by the amino acid Tryptophan. It mostly helps regulate your mood, your appetite, and your sleep schedules, although there have also been studies showing it has regulatory effects in bone density, social gauging, blood clotting and aging.
Serotonin is one of the “feel-good” hormones, dopamine being another. Serotonin has been related to drugs like MDMA(Ecstasy), Psychedelic Mushrooms, and LSD. It’s supposed to be the more relaxed, calming and peaceful of the two hormones. When you have normal to high levels of serotonin you feel good, you have a relatively easy time focusing, you have normal sleep periods, and you want to have sex about as much as any other regular human being.
When you have low serotonin, you can have issues with focusing on tasks, you might forget why you were doing something 5 minutes ago, you can be easily stressed out by little things, want to sleep for long periods of time, but still have interruptions in your sleep all throughout the night, low sex drive, and low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression.

What makes serotonin so great?

As described above, a healthy amount of serotonin will make you happier, may help issues with fatigue, low sex drive, depression, stress.
In women a lack of serotonin has more of a tendency to cause depression. In men lack of serotonin will tend to promote more impulsive behavior. Either way, improving your serotonin levels to a normal degree can help tremendously with mood and attitude.
Serotonin also helps with appetite regulation. While you don’t necessarily want to be unable to eat, it’s important you don’t overeat. Serotonin helps a lot with suppressing your appetite when necessary.
Serotonin also plays a huge role in restful sleep, most likely because it later metabolizes into melatonin. Those with low serotonin levels can spend 10-12 hours sleeping, with periods of being awake in the middle of the night for an hour or more. When your serotonin levels are well balanced you’ll be a lot closer to 8 hours of genuine, restful, growth hormone inducing sleep, the kind you want and need.

Where does serotonin come from?

Serotonin is developed by the amino acid tryptophan. When tryptophan enters your body, it develops into 5-HTP(a precursor to serotonin). Some 5-HTP will convert into serotonin while still in your blood stream, the rest will go to cross the blood-brain barrier. It competes with several other amino acids for receptors in your brain to be utilized. When 5-HTP crosses the blood-brain barrier and makes it to your brain receptors, it gets converted into serotonin.

How can I get more serotonin?

Tryptophan can be found in nuts, vegetables, meats(not just turkey, all meats), dairy products, and is most densely found in egg whites and spirulina.
Now, just eating these on their own is not likely to promote a huge boost in serotonin, it probably wouldn’t even be statistically significant if scientists were running lab tests on you right then and there. When you eat these foods, tryptophan is competing for space in your brain with all those other amino acids you’re taking in. The best way to make sure tryptophan comes out on top in that battle is by having a high amount of carbs to spike your insulin. When you spike insulin, it causes most nutrients, amino acids especially, to go to your body in your fat and muscle cells. Tryptophan is one amino acid that doesn’t go to your muscles. So with that insulin spike, you will find you can optimize the time to take in tryptophan straight to your brain for serotonin development.

An alternative is simply taking supplements containing tryptophan and/or 5-HTP without other amino acids. If taken on an empty stomach then the 5-HTP will have nothing to compete with in the brain receptors and will be fully taken in.

The people at the Onnit labs realized this and combined it with some other nutrients to optimize effects from what is in there to help improve mood, help people relax, and generally help with all of the symptoms people may experience from low serotonin.

Check it out for yourself.

New Mood with 5-htp

1. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs

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