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Serotonin Deficiency

Do you feel like You are living under a dark cloud?

If so, your Serotonin reserves might be low.  This vital and precious neurotransmitter (brain chemical) is our primary defense against depression and anxiety and when our supply is low, it can also contribute to irritability, insomnia, gut & heart problems, PMS, fibromyalgia, headaches and other pain conditions, as well as cravings for carbohydrates, alcohol and certain drugs.

How is Serotonin produced?

Serotonin is naturally produced in our body from tryptophan, an amino acid found in foods like turkey, beef and cheese.  Tryptophan converts to 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which then converts directly into Serotonin.  When we don’t make enough 5-HTP, we don’t make enough Serotonin to keep us happy and feeling balanced.

Why are You Serotonin starved?

  • Diet – Not getting enough fuel through foods because you skip meals or don’t eat a pro-serotonin diet which is rich in proteins and healthy fat.  Also, consuming anti-serotonin foods like coffee, other caffeinated beverages or artificial sweeteners, especially in after noon, can lead to deficiency.
  • Stress – Physical and emotional stress can tax the brain and the body and use up Serotonin reserves to help us deal with the chronic demands while keeping us calm and centered.
  • Substance Use – Stimulant use and abuse, including ephedra, diet pills, cocaine, etc., can overwhelm our nervous system and narrow our focus while inhibiting rest and relaxation.  Marijuana, opiates, pain relievers and alcohol also affect our brain’s natural ability to produce the chemicals it needs to stay in a state of balance.
  • Light – A lack of natural sunlight or bright light stimulates the brain to make more Serotonin.
  • Exercise – Not getting enough physical activity can also lead to low Serotonin levels.
  • Gender – Females simply produce less serotonin than males (about 1/3 less).  PMS and menopausal mood problems can result when estrogen levels fall too low, because this sex hormone helps program Serotonin production.

What can You do to feel better?

Outside of the brain, most of your body’s supply of serotonin is stored in the gut.  Consider working with an Acupuncturist or a Naturopathic Doctor  to resolve any underlying digestive issues;

  1. Consume enough high protein foods.  Eat a minimum of 4 ounces of low-fat animal protein at each meal (3x/day), preferably turkey, chicken, eggs, lean bee, lamb or wild game.  Avoid meats that contain hormones or antibiotics and choose grass or plant fed meats. Limit red meat consumption to 1-2 times a week as research shows a correlation between red meat consumption and heart disease.  Vegetarians can get some tryptophan from nutritional yeast, milk products, nuts, seeds, bananas and pumpkin.
  2. Don’t skip meals and avoid fast foods and processed foods.
  3. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants, as well as any other mind-altering substance.
  4. Reduce your exposure the stressful situations and environments.  Practice self-care through meditation, exercise, yoga or mindfulness training.
  5. Expose yourself for 20-30 minutes a day to direct, bright, natural sunlight or spend 30-60 minutes a day under a 150-200 watt lamp.  This stimulates Vitamin D production and helps with mood.
  6. Get 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 times a week.  The higher level of oxygen in the blood helps with the conversion of serotonin from amino acids and also more amino acids are available in the blood because the body is calling for them to help with muscle repair.  More aminos in the blood means more available for the brain to convert and use to make Serotonin.
  7. EEG Biofeedback / Neurofeedback, also referred to as brainwave training, can help to regulate the brain’s biochemistry and in turn increase Serotonin production.
  8. Some dietary supplements can assist the brain in returning to its natural state of balance.   It is recommended that you consult with your physician before taking any supplements, especially if you are taking any other prescribed medications.

2 Comments

  1. Ive been battling with depression since I had my son 2 years ago I didnt seek treatment until he was almost 1. Ive been on and off fluoxetine for the past 2 years I found the side effects are worse then the acctual effects.before my menstrual cicle I found depression getting worse to the suicidel tought. I dont know whether I should start taking the pills or try something else.

  2. Hi Laura – going on and off medication can definitely make symptoms worse. I’m sorry this has been such a struggle for you. Post partum depression is a real challenge for so many new moms. Here’s some natural solutions to explore. 1) Cleaning up your diet to eliminate processed foods & eating Whole Foods only can be a game changer. 2) consider essential oils to support physical & mental well-being. DōTERRA, the largest essential oil company in the world, bottles safe, pure and natural plant-based medicine that can help with mood regulation and hormone stabilization. Check out their ClaryCalm blend for women. Www/mydoterra.com/DarlaMeulemans. After I had my daughter, I found this to be a lifesaver and it helped me get back on track hormonally & keeps me steady still 4 plus years later. 3) You might consider Neurofeedback brain training. It safe, effective, and minimal side effects. Visit EEGINFO.com to see if there’s a provider near.

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