How to Increase Serotonin Naturally?

November 12, 2012

How to Increase Serotonin Naturally?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep. With more than 18.8 million cases of depression in the United States, the importance of learning natural ways to increase serotonin levels is more relevant than ever.

Serotonin

Serotonin affects cognitive functions such as memory and learning. It helps maintain mental health and prevent depression. Women, in general, produce less serotonin compared to men, and are thereby, more prone to depression. Although low serotonin levels that occur due to thyroid diseases may require medication to treat underlying conditions, there are several natural ways to increase serotonin levels in the body.

Exercise

Regular physical activity and the oxygen intake associated with it can help elevate serotonin levels in your body. This, along with increased endorphin levels, is responsible for the improved mood after exercising for as little as 20 minutes. Individuals who exercise regularly have more stable serotonin levels compared to those who exercise occasionally.

Proteins

Protein- and amino acid-rich foods such as turkey, dairy products and nuts can make you optimistic, improve your sleep, and elevate your confidence levels. This is because the amino acid tryptophan found in these foods is converted into an intermediate derivative known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is, in turn, converted into serotonin. Low levels of serotonin, on the other hand, increase your craving for sugary and oily foods. This is why many of you reach for comfort foods when you are feeling low.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables and nuts are also part of a healthy, nutritious diet that increases serotonin levels in your body. The so called “low-protein” and “low-fat diets” diets and supplements increase your craving for sugar. Although sugar consumption may increase serotonin levels for short time, this increase is only temporary. The low levels of the neurotransmitter further increase your sugar cravings. Most individuals who get entrapped into this vicious cycle put on weight and develop health problems. This may, in turn, aggravate their depression.

Sunlight

Exposure to sunlight can also increase serotonin levels in your body. Hence, a short walk in the afternoon sun may be a good way to improve your mood and energy levels. In fact, people living in areas with excessive rainfall tend to suffer from seasonal depression because they are not exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time. A walk in the sunlight can also prevent your craving for carbohydrates. However, you should apply sunscreen before exposing yourself to sun to lower the risk of skin cancer associated with sun exposure.

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