Naturally Soothing Chemical Messenger Serotonin


Your brain makes this naturally soothing chemical messenger called serotonin from a time before you born and continues throughout your lifetime. It plays many roles in the brain’s biochemistry – and it’s intimately involved in enhancing deep sleep, maintaining a healthy mood and self-confidence, even supporting a healthy appetite and social engagement.

Produced by the body, this “get happy” chemical also enables the nervous system and your brain cells to communicate back-and-forth. (And, hey, they have a lot to talk about!)

Serotonin Can Bolster Your Mood and Zap Cravings

People who are clinically depressed often have very low levels of serotonin, says Dr. Daniel Amen, MD. Yet, serotonin can be increased in the brain (and body) by eating the proper foods and/or supplementing your diet.

Interestingly, Dr. Amen says certain nutrients can help metabolize and help utilize serotonin most efficiently. Some of these nutrients include magnesium, zinc, folic acid, fish oils, vitamins C and B6.

Some studies suggest that women produce 52 percent less serotonin than men. Levels seem to fluctuate with menstrual cycles, which may explain why women are more prone to depression.

Too little serotonin may affect depression and mood, while too much serotonin can actually become toxic, according to studies by the National Institutes of Health.

The greatest risk of having too much serotonin often occurs when people mix over-the-counter supplements with antidepressants or other prescriptions drugs, says Daniel Amen, MD.

Always ask your doctor about supplementing, especially if you have a chronic condition and take medication every day.

Can You Have Too Much of a Good Thing?

Yes, you can ingest too much serotonin, although the opposite is much more common. Symptoms of too much serotonin include:

  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heavy sweating
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Restlessness and sleep issues

The best news, says Dr. Amen, is that healthy lifestyle habits such as daily exercise, consuming “smart” carbohydrates in moderation, and taking a dietary supplement can work together to create a positive mood state, which is the foundation of a happier and more satisfying life!

Feeling blue is often accompanied by increased appetite, which can lead to overeating. Balancing your serotonin levels may help minimize that emotional overeating, he says. Plus, supplements can potentially help control your appetite and promote feelings of equanimity.

Certain Foods Naturally Contain Serotonin

Eating foods high in tryptophan (the amino acid that helps manufacture serotonin in the first place) may include healthy servings of carbohydrates and some lean proteins.

Your best chance at staying calm and composed is with a serotonin boost, but if you do not take supplements, at least eat frequent servings of healthy carbohydrates – like rice, oatmeal, or whole-grains – along with lean protein sources, such as eggs, poultry, and fatty fish like salmon.

If you regularly need to calm yourself down, eat better and improve mental focus and mood, try our good mood boosters.

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This is one I have not heard about in supplementation. Other than with food, how would one supplement Serotonin?

How much would be needed for a women age 53 and overweight?

Is it excreted daily like Magnesium? I already take All the sups listed above however; I am extremely stressed and have been long term and since the weather, time and light changes….I am Not feeling as good as I was a few months back. I take D3 everyday as well.


I did not have actual depression but had developed a physical reaction to stress and anxiety. My doctor explained the effects of not having enough serotonin and put me on Zoloft, an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). I have taken most of the mentioned supplements for years and continue to do so as well. It started to work quickly for me. It also suppressed my appetite a bit and I lost about ten pounds. With my insurance it is less than $8 for a three month supply.
There are good sites to research this. Just Google SSRI. Hope it helps.

Gabriella Klein

SSRIs are addictive and have other nasty side effects. They are among the most difficult medications to stop taking. Healing for depression can be done easily with a specific diet. Just look up Functional Medicine diets for depression.

Maryland Girl

With an SSRI, (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). They are in most depression and some anxiety medications. You’re doc can help you with that. They can make a world of difference if your low. Sometimes, there are multiple issues, but usually it’s just one drug like Deborah mentioned (Zoloft) that works.

Justin Jones

@SecretMe2016 I believe the article is refering to the supplement 5-HTP.

Karen Gongola Phd

Proprioceptive Deep Pressure Stimulation is a natural way to trigger the body to release Serotonin. 10-15% of the body weight placed into a deep muscle group such as tops of thighs for 15-20 minutes every 2 hours. This can be utilized as part of a Sensory Diet. The Serotonin half life is 1 1/2 hours so the need is to do it every 2 hours. Consulting with an Occupational therapist can help.

Christine Greener

How can I get more serotonin…naturally? My doctor has me on medications, but I need more I feel, the natural way.

Amen Clinics

Hi Christine,
Great question! I think you will find some answers in another blog on our site: