Importance Of Serotonin In The Brain And Body

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a natural chemical in the brain and body that acts as a neurotransmitter and hormone.

It plays many roles in regulating mood, memory, sleep, digestion and more.

Serotonin production is the result of an intrinsic biochemical process of metabolism or degradation of the amino acid L-tryptophan. The result of this breakdown is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is a direct chemical precursor to serotonin.

Precursor (sometimes used as a precursor) in organic chemistry means a substance, a chemical compound, the reaction of which yields another chemical compound

Serotonin, made from 5-HTP, is used in the body for a variety of important purposes, including digestive control and mood. Read more about 5-HTP 5-HTP Consumption, Effects, Benefits


Where is Serotonin Produced?

Serotonin is produced in both the brain and the digestive tract.

Approximately 85% of the body's serotonin levels are in the gut and platelets in the blood. The remaining supply is in the central nervous system.

In the gastrointestinal tract, serotonin is used in part as peristalsis or improper contraction / movement and functioning of our digestive systems.

Peristalsis is a rhythmic circular contraction of the smooth muscles of the walls of tubular organs, pushing the contents of the organs.

In the central nervous system, serotonin is used as a neurotransmitter to improve communication between neurons. It is an inhibitory neurochemical property, which means that it helps to avoid overly exciting neurons by promoting a sense of calm, relaxation, and happiness.

The brain needs inhibitory neurotransmitters to balance the effects of chemicals such as dopamine, noradrenaline, acetylcholine, and glutamate on excitation neurotransmission.

Serotonin fails to cross the blood-brain barrier if it calms down or is produced elsewhere in the body. However, a lot of serotonin is needed for the functioning of the brain. Serotonin precursors are L-tryptophan ir 5-HTP.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It is considered essential because it cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained through diet or dietary supplements. Tryptophan from foods or dietary supplements travels to the liver, where it is broken down by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase into 5-HTP and other metabolites, including niacin (vitamin B3).

5-HTP travels through the blood to the brain, crosses the blood-brain barrier that separates blood from the brain, and enters brain tissue. In the brain, 5-HTP is converted to serotonin by the pituitary gland.

5-HTP is commonly used as a serotonin-boosting supplement. Tryptophan supplements are also used, but some people prefer to take 5-HTP because it is a step towards further conversion of metabolism to serotonin (which may mean fewer side effects for some people) and often works faster in the body.


What Does the Human Body Use Serotonin for?

As a neurotransmitter, serotonin regulates the intensity of the synaptic signal. Serotonin plays a variety of other important roles that affect both bodily and psychological functioning.

Here is a partial list of how serotonin works in the body:

  • Regulation of mood, appetite, digestion, social behavior, libido, sleep and memory
  • Auxiliary role in the production of breast milk
  • Used to metabolize bones
  • Supports cardiovascular system efficiency
  • Helps regenerate the liver
  • Necessary for efficient cell division


Serotonin For Depressive Symptoms

Cases of depression, anxiety and various other mental conditions are strongly associated with hormonal and / or neurotransmitter imbalances. There is no single known cause for depression.

Many factors affect a particular person and can lead to depression. These factors may include:

  • Age of the person
  • General state of health
  • Diet choices
  • Activity levels
  • Geographical location
  • Other factors ..


In some cases, low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. It is not yet clear whether depression causes a decrease in serotonin levels or if depression causes the onset of low levels of serotonin.

In any case, low levels of serotonin are a very common occurrence among people with depression.

Because serotonin cannot be added directly, a study with 5-HTP was performed as a way to increase serotonin levels in the brain. The database of natural medicines evaluated 5-HTP as a potentially effective dietary supplement in depression. Some studies have shown that 5-HTP use may be similar to some conventional antidepressants.


5-HTP Studies

In one study, one group of patients received 150 to 400 mg of 5-HTP daily, and another group received 20 to 40 mg of fluoxetine (Prozac). The study lasted eight weeks, and doses of 5-HTP or fluoxetine started at lower doses and gradually increased to the maximum dose.

At the end of the study, 5-HTP was found to have a similar effect in reducing depressive symptoms as fluoxetine. Other studies have shown similar results and have found that 5-HTP may be similar to the improvement in depressive symptoms with fluvoxam (Luvox) or imipramine (tofranil).

Other studies have examined the use of 5-HTP as adjunctive therapy to other traditional antidepressants. One study showed that 300 mg of 5-HTP in combination with the 50 mg tricilicin antidepressant chlorimipramine significantly reduced depressive symptoms in patients taking chlorimipramine alone.

More research is needed to elucidate the effects of 5-HTP, reducing depressive symptoms by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. At present, the FDA has not approved 5-HTP as a drug for the prevention or treatment of depression.


How To Increase Serotonin Levels In The Body?

With the prevalence of antidepressants such as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), there is a great need for natural methods to increase serotonin. While there are many successful treatments for basic medications, these medications also have a list of possible side effects.

People are looking for ways to naturally increase their serotonin activity in the brain. These methods include:

Dietary changes: there are no foods that directly contain serotonin, but there are foods that supply your body with much more. These are foods high in the essential amino acid L-tryptophan. Read the article L-Tryptophan - What Is It?  to find out which foods contain the most of this amino acid.

Increase your activity level: there is no doubt about the effectiveness of exercise as an overall health enhancer.

Exercise has not been shown to increase serotonin levels, but it has been shown many times that exercise improves mood and significantly reduces depression.

In fact, many studies have concluded that physical activity alone is as effective as medication and / or psychotherapy as a treatment for depression. In addition, it is reported that workouts using L-tryptophan the supplement allows more of this amino acid to be transferred to the blood-brain barrier.

This is caused by exercise-induced release of insulin, which breaks down amino acids other than tryptophan, which means that this important precursor crosses the blood-brain barrier better.


Dietary Supplements For Serotonin

5-HTP serotonin supplements: 5-HTP supplements are made from natural sources such as Griffonia simplicifolia plant from West Africa. When you increase the amount of 5-HTP in your system, the nutrients needed for serotonin synthesis are readily available.

Talk to your doctor if you want to use 5-HTP supplements. Your doctor will be able to determine the best dose and needs for your personal physiology, as well as determine if there are possible side effects or interactions with existing medications or supplements.

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