Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical substance that modulates the brain’s functioning, which is responsible for our overall sense of happiness, fulfillment, and in the simplest terms. Its deficiency also plays a huge role in depressive disorders, thus it is hard to derive joy from anything. This deficiency may arise both in the way of the production of the neurotransmitter, the response of the receiving synapse or many other causes (after all, the chemistry of the brain is quite complex, to put it mildly).
Serotonin in the brain is produced in nerve cells in its trunk. These cells are called seam nuclei (Latin nuclei raphes). Light has a great influence on the activation of this center, hence many people in the winter or on cloudy days feel a drop in mood.
Not necessarily using SSRIs may be a good solution, because they carry some side effects, such as a decrease in the sensitivity of postsynaptic receptors to the neurotransmitter.
How can we deal with perceptible decreases in serotonin? Are we doomed to wait for automatic improvement, or only for drugs? Fortunately, dietary supplements can help in the solution and ad hoc, the effect of which in this matter is quite clear and the therapeutic effect.
To include the knowledge in a nutshell below, I will present three supplements that have a proven effect in raising the level of serotonin in the brain, thus facilitating the choice between numerous products that can be purchased on the market.
5-hydroxytryptophan, is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan – from which serotonin is formed as a result of metabolism. It is its fundamental building material. And although tryptophan is present in food, by way of amino acids being mutually excluded from pathways, eating it in food is not as noticeable as eating the supplement separately.
The use of 5-HTP helps to stabilize well-being, and research shows that it works in the context of antidepressant similar to drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, but it does not cause negative effects that these drugs may cause.
5-HTP will be checked where it could lead to depletion of serotonin resources, thus allowing it to rebuild its stocks. Nevertheless, it is often ad hoc and more effective to regulate the response of serotonin receptors. It is worth adding that 5-HTP usually works well before bedtime, because as a result of methylation of serotonin, a sleep hormone is formed – melatonin, and a good night’s sleep is the basis for a good frame of mind. Here, the dosage is usually in the range of 100-300 mg per day in divided doses of 50-100 mg per serving.
Lithium is an alkaline metal found in trace amounts in the products we consume. It has some nootropic effect, but above all it is an anti-depressant that permanently allows you to restore your balance in the serotonin economy. The mechanism of action is to increase the postsynaptic activity of 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, while not negatively affecting the 5-HT receptor auto-regulation, which would result in the abolition of the described effect . At the same time, lithium protects against the negative effects of stress that may occur when the mood is unwell. Long-term lithium supplementation results in memory improvement by stimulation of progenitor and stem cells in the hippocampus. Lithium also prevents the degradation of the cell’s ability to proliferate caused by glutamate or cortisol. Thus, lithium supplementation may reduce the degree of decline in cognition caused by chronic stress. It is important that the effects of lithium do not have to wait long and a dose of 5-10 mg allows you to feel the effects after a few hours.
Indian ginseng, or ashwagandha, also affects the serotonin metabolism. Here the time after which we feel the change is an individual matter, but most people have to wait at least 2 weeks for the first effects.
The mechanism of the influence of Indian ginseng on the serotonin economy is slightly unusual. Ashwagandha affects the regulation of the serotonin economy by blocking the 5-HT1A receptors. In the case of depression it can give a positive effect, as 5HT1A have a feedback mechanism on the serotonin system in the system. This means that if less serotonin reaches 5HT1A, the receptor communicates an increase in the production of serotonin. In this way, among others, ashwagandha increases stress tolerance and allows you to be less annoyed by everyday worries. However, it is worth bearing in mind that ashwagandha is not for everyone and many people may feel a drop in vigor. Nevertheless, it still remains a supplement with a high efficiency ratio in regulating the serotonin economy and it is worth being interested.
Serotonin boosters – conclusion
In conclusion, we have a wide range of supplements on the market to improve the serotonin economy, whose abnormal state is manifested by a decrease in mood and lack of joy in the things that we should enjoy. The above-mentioned dietary supplements have a perceptible effect in this context, which is why they have often been chosen by people with a serotonin deficit. Each of them has a slightly different way of influencing the economy of serotonin, which is why the first choice will not always be the right one. However, it also has its advantages, because it will allow to pinpoint the reason for the decrease in serotonin activity – this may be the amount of the neurotransmitter itself or regression of the receptor response. These products should be included in the assortment of people who often experience mood declines, for example in connection with the deterioration of the weather, but also people prone to depression or those who like to play with stimulants once in a while, which may deregulate work with the brain and with a certain delay introduce a depressed mood.