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Natural Ways to Support Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the human body that assists in regulatory processes such as mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and libido. There are various reasons for serotonin to be depleted in a person. Here are some of the most common:

  • Stress

  • Trauma

  • Insomnia

  • Toxic diet

  • Chemical imbalances

  • Hormonal changes (i.e. Menopause)

Some people who experience an extreme drop in serotonin describe the feeling like a crash in joy or as of the brain stops working. It can also manifest in the form of depression. A person can go the pharmaceutical route, seeking a medication to help increase the production of serotonin. Many of these meds are classified as antidepressants, such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft. If this is not the initial route you'd like to try, perhaps the following suggestions can assist in supporting your mood, mental function, clarity, energy and more! Now let's look at some ways to intervene naturally, helping our body to support serotonin levels and increase production:

  • Exercise. Movement releases our body's natural endorphins, which is what the 'runner's high' is all about. If running is undesirable to you, that is perfectly fine! More gentle movement such as yoga or walking can also enhance the release of these feel-good substances. Walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day has been shown in some research trials to assist in producing more serotonin in the body!

  • Dark chocolate! I certainly welcome this remedy! However, there is a caveat. The chocolate you consume cannot be a processed candy bar, milk chocolate, sugar-coated treat. It must be true dark chocolate, preferably 60% or higher and organic. See the suggested resource list below for some organic brands.

  • Omega 3's. When I was in college, I had my internship paper on Alzheimer's. Part of my assignment was to create a hypothesis as to the possible cause(s) of this condition. I, of course, had to support it through research, as well as my experience working at the nursing home with the patients with a cognitive diagnosis. One of the common themes I personally found was that omega 3 consumption kept arising in my studies. To not bore you with the detailed findings, my summary is that it could very well be a solid factor that low omega 3 consumption (and too high of refined omega 6 & 9) was a contributing factor to dementia and Alzheimers. Omega 3's= Anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 & 9= Inflammatory. Ever since then, I am faithful to consume wild-caught salmon, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, avocados, and other healthy fats for my brain and mood function. A fact from "The brain is composed of about 75% water and is the fattiest organ in the body, consisting of a minimum of 60% fat." Since our brains are created with fat, it makes sense that it would need healthy fats (such as omega 3's) to function optimally.

  • Vitamin D. God's brightest gift of the sun is the best way to absorb this vitamin. However, for many of us, we are not always exposed to the warmth of the sun, mainly during cold winter months with short days, granting minimal light-time. Taking a vitamin D supplement is crucial for those in the northern parts of the world. Living in Maine, my family and I take 5,000 IUs from September to April. Vitamin D supports energy levels, mood, and partners with neurotransmitter function. I suggest getting a vitamin D test (25 OH test) first to see exactly how much your body may need. It is a simple blood test. Ask your primary care.

  • Proper sleep. Insomnia can trigger a significant drop in serotonin production. Getting regular, full restful sleep is crucial for brain recovery. The National Foundation of Sleep offers a chart of recommended sleep based on age ( Adults are suggested to have 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep. If sleep is troublesome for you, I suggest a gentle supplement to assist you in getting to sleep, such as melatonin. Please see the resources section.









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