Serotonin deficiency? You have probably heard serotonin is your "happy hormone" but do you know if you have it? I now do urine and saliva testing to test neurotranamitters including serotonin. It has been linked to such conditions. Foods that are rich in serotonin can also be helpful for people with depression for the same reason.
But serotonin is important for far more than just keeping off depression. This versatile hormone is one of your body’s most important neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit nerve signals between nerve cells. In its role as a neurotransmitter, serotonin helps to maintain the clear communication of nerve cells. This, in turn, helps your body to stay properly regulated and produces feelings of well-being. For this reason, serotonin is often referred to as the “feel good hormone.”
Serotonin’s Other Functions
In addition to its role as a neurotransmitter, serotonin has a variety of other important functions in your body. That’s because, either directly or indirectly, serotonin influences the majority of your brain’s approximately 40 million cells. These brain cells, in turn, are responsible for regulating a wide range of body functions, including your appetite, learning and memory capacity, sexual desire and function, sleep, and body temperature. Researchers have also found that serotonin also plays a role in proper heart and muscle function, as well as the functioning of certain aspects of your body’s endocrine (hormone) system. Without adequate serotonin, all of these processes can be impaired. In addition, serotonin also affects your mood — which is why it can be so useful as an aid for coping with depression — and influences your social behavior.
Diet: A healthy diet is one of the most important steps you can take to boost and maintain your body’s serotonin levels. To this end, there are two goals to keep in mind. First, avoid all unhealthy foods, such as “junk” or processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and sugar, and also eliminate alcoholic beverages from your diet. Second, be sure to regularly eat foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which your body converts to serotonin. Foods high in tryptophan include avocadoes, chicken, cottage cheese, dark chocolate, eggs, oats, pork, turkey, wheat germ, and wild oats. Try to include at least one tryptophan-rich food at every meal, choosing organic foods whenever possible.
Nutritional Supplements: Various nutrients can also help your body produce sufficient serotonin, although not in place of a healthy diet. Such nutrients include B vitamins (especially B1, B3, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12), calcium, and magnesium, all of which are usually found in a good multivitamin/mineral formula. Tryptophan and its precursor, 5-HTP (5-hydroxy tryptophan) can also be used, although both of these should ideally be taken under your doctor’s supervision.
Lifestyle: The most important lifestyle choice you can make when it comes to improving and maintaining serotonin levels is to get a good night’s sleep. For most people, this means going to bed before midnight and getting at least seven hours of relaxing sleep each night. If you have difficulty sleeping this is also a sign of a hormone imbalance.