Serotonin is an important brain chemical that influences mood and sleep. When serotonin levels are low, you can quickly become depressed, have trouble sleeping, and experience low energy levels. Many anti-depressants specifically work to increase your brain’s serotonin levels. While these drugs can be quite helpful, they also come with serious side effects.
Luckily, there are natural ways to increase your serotonin levels without side effects or the high cost of prescriptions. Here are five ways to boost serotonin naturally:
Get Protein + Carbs
In order to make serotonin, your brain needs the amino acid tryptophan, which comes from protein-rich foods. However, in order to most effectively convert the tryptophan to serotonin, your brain also needs complex carbs, such as brown rice, veggies, or legumes.
When you make lunch or a quick snack, aim for a powerful mood-boosting protein and carb combo, such as lean turkey with chopped-up veggies, a bit of cheese with a handful of nuts, or an omelet that combines eggs, meat, and veggies. Your brain will thank you for providing this essential combination of nutrients by producing higher levels of serotonin in a shorter amount of time.
Break a Sweat
Physical exercise is a highly effective way to boost serotonin production. In particular, getting at least a few hours of cardio per week can significantly increase your serotonin and therefore improve your mood and sense of well-being. As an added bonus, exercise also produces other “feel good” brain chemicals, such as endorphins. The combination of these brain chemicals helps break through depression and sluggishness.
Take 5-HTP Supplements
5-HTP is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that functions as the precursor to serotonin. If your body is not producing enough serotonin on its own, you may want to give it a little help by taking 5-HTP supplements. These supplements supply your body with 5-HTP, which is then converted into serotonin.
5-HTP is also considered an effective appetite suppressant, making it ideal for those struggling with both depression and overeating. Be sure to look for pure 5-HTP, without fillers or additives.
Get Some Sunshine
Getting out in the sun, especially in the late morning, is one of the best ways to keep serotonin levels high. Aim for at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight per day. A brisk walk or run in the sunshine is ideal, since this combines the serotonin-boosting properties of exercise and sunlight.
If you live somewhere with dark winters, consider purchasing a light therapy box. Simply sit in front of the light therapy box for thirty minutes every morning and watch your blues vanish.
Take Vitamin B Supplements
Another way to increase your serotonin levels, and therefore boost your mood and help beat depression, is to get plenty of vitamin B. In particular, vitamin B-6 seems to have a positive impact on serotonin production, while also increasing other mood-boosting brain chemicals like dopamine.
By following these five tips, you will quickly boost your serotonin levels and enjoy better moods and more energy. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you’re experiencing serious depression, as you may need a combination of natural remedies and medical treatment.