Serotonin; a single chemical that can cheer you up!

What is Serotonin?

The brain releases a neurotransmitter called Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) which is mainly composed of tryptophan, the building block of protein. It could be found in blood platelets, pineal glands, and even the digestive tract. Serotonin is mainly responsible for transmitting nerve impulses, helping cells to communicate with each other. For people who have a high level of tryptophan in the blood stream, it’s a signal that the brain is producing serotonin. The right amount of serotonin in some region of the brain would help it to function well. Also called as a “happy hormone”, serotonin is believed to be responsible for mood swings, depression, and anxiety.

How is Serotonin Related to Your Mood?

Serotonin is an essential brain chemical. If you have a normal level of serotonin, you will feel happy. When people are stressed, they begin to use a lot more serotonin to cope with the situations. Owing to the stress level, the body isn’t producing enough serotonin, leading to mild to moderate depression. As the level of serotonin gets lower, people will experience deeper depression. There are several symptoms like the difficult to focus and concentrate, chronic fatigue, inability to sleep, low libido, and social withdrawal.

There is also a thing called serotonin syndrome. Although a high level of serotonin can lead people to a high level of happiness, too much of it can be dangerous. Some medications used to cure depression can contribute to this condition. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, vomiting, hallucinations, and rapid heartbeat. Based on survey, there are millions of people who will be suffering from serotonin syndrome. It’s then essential to address the level of serotonin but never try to self medicate. Seek the help of a doctor on the matter.

Foods Serotonin is found in?

There are a lot of foods that can help to boost serotonin levels in the body. It’s useful to know that women have the tendency to have a much lower serotonin level in comparison to men. If this is the case, you need to plan your diet with the right food. It’s important to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and protein. Some examples are turkey, chicken, and fish. Avoid foods with white flour and sugar because they can produce a short term high serotonin level that would cause fatigue. A good diet should be a combination of food that doesn’t cause the serotonin level to go up and down. For people who like fish, go for tuna, salmon, sardines or mackerel. There are omega-3 supplements that you can take daily. It’s also important to eat protein-rich foods like vegetables, nut, milk, beans, and avocados.

It’s not the same for everybody. You need to eat the right combination of food that would help boost serotonin level in the body. For people with an active lifestyle, it’s important to eat different combinations of protein and carbohydrate. Use the trial and error method to combine the right food to achieve optimum health and mind.

Other Types of Endorphins

Take note that serotonin and endorphins are not the same. Endorphins are chemicals which are released during physical and mental stimulation. They promote positive feelings of well being. The four types of endorphins are alpha-endorphins, beta-endorphins, gamma-endorphins, and sigma-endorphins. Alpha-endorphins are polypeptides with 16 residues. Beta-endorphins are polypeptides with 31 residues. Gamma-endorphins are polypeptides with 17 residues. Sigma-endorphins are polypeptides with 27 residues. If you can incorporate methods of releasing serotonin and endorphins, then you will enjoy good mental and physical health.

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