Have you ever wondered what the best serotonin supplement is? If you have, then you’ve come to the right place.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain. It controls many processes, such as mood, wakefulness, sexual desire, appetite, anxiety, and memory.
Low serotonin levels can affect all these things and leave you feeling down or stressed. So, what can be done to increase your serotonin levels?
Fortunately, there are many options for increasing your serotonin naturally, including supplements. These supplements contain ingredients that help to increase serotonin production or enhance the effectiveness of serotonin in the body.
I have reviewed several supplements that help increase serotonin levels in the body. I will provide an overview of each one and their pros and cons to help you choose the best option.
Types of Serotonin Supplements
There are many different serotonin supplements available today. Each type of supplement comes with its own unique set of ingredients, but they all aim to increase serotonin levels in the body.
Serotonin supplements fall into two main categories: Serotonin Precursors and Reuptake Inhibitors.
While serotonin precursors increase the amount of serotonin available in the brain by providing the body with the building blocks it needs to make serotonin, reuptake inhibitors work by blocking the serotonin reuptake.
Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between reuptake inhibitors and serotonin precursors:
|Reuptake Inhibitors||Serotonin Precursors|
|Definition||Medications block the serotonin reuptake in the brain, allowing more serotonin to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.||Supplements that provide the body with the building blocks it needs to produce serotonin, such as tryptophan or 5-HTP.|
|Examples||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro).||Tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, SAM-e.|
|How they work||Works by blocking the serotonin reuptake in the brain, increasing the serotonin available to improve mood.||Provide the body with the building blocks it needs to produce serotonin, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.|
|Benefits||Can be effective in treating depression and anxiety.||Can help to boost serotonin levels and improve mood.|
|Side effects||Nausea, diarrhea, headache, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and insomnia.||Nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset. Can interact with other medications and may not be safe for everyone.|
|Precautions||Should be used cautiously in patients with liver or kidney disease and in patients taking other medications that affect serotonin levels.||Should not be taken without consulting a healthcare professional, as they can interact with other medications and may not be safe for everyone.|
Best Serotonin Supplements
There are many different types of serotonin supplements that you can take, but not all are effective or safe. Some can even cause side effects and health issues. If you’re unsure which serotonin supplement is the best for you, use the following to help you pick one that is right for your needs.
1. 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)
Do you suffer from depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and fatigue? If so, 5-HTP may be the answer!
It is a naturally occurring amino acid that is the direct precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can be synthesized in the brain from 5-HTP. Since 5-HTP easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, it can be used to raise brain serotonin levels.
Features of 5-HTP
5-HTP has several useful features for your health and weight loss. Here’s a list to remind you of the greatest benefits.
|Chemical compound||Naturally occurring amino acid and a precursor to serotonin.|
|Mode of action||Increases serotonin levels in the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier.|
Benefits of 5-HTP
As a dietary supplement, 5-HTP is used to help support a healthy mood and sleep cycle. It is also used for weight loss and to help manage diabetes symptoms by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing appetite.
|Mood enhancement||May help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.|
|Sleep aid||Has been suggested to promote better sleep by increasing serotonin and melatonin levels.|
|Appetite control||May help reduce appetite and promote weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness.|
|Anxiety relief||Has been used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and promote relaxation.|
Side Effects of 5-HTP
5-HTP is hailed as an elixir for a wide range of health concerns and diseases, thanks to the serotonin in our body, which makes us feel good. But, there are certain side effects that you must be aware of before taking 5-HTP.
|Gastrointestinal issues||Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur, especially when starting with higher doses.|
|Drowsiness||Can cause drowsiness, especially at higher doses or when taken before bedtime.|
|Serotonin syndrome||Taking excessive amounts of 5-HTP can lead to serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening.|
|Interaction with medications||May interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants and MAO inhibitors.|
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning your body can’t make it. You have to get it from your diet. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is involved in mood regulation, and melatonin, which helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Tryptophan can also be converted into niacin, a B vitamin important for various bodily functions. It is found in protein-rich foods such as turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, cottage cheese, and milk.
Features of Tryptophan
Although most of the health benefits Tryptophan offers are related to its role as an essential amino acid, some of those compounds can also be obtained from other sources.
|Chemical compound||Tryptophan is an essential amino acid.|
|Mode of action||Serves as a precursor for synthesizing serotonin, melatonin, and niacin.|
|Availability||Found in protein-rich foods such as turkey, chicken, cheese, nuts, and seeds. It is also available as a dietary supplement.|
Benefits of Tryptophan
The amino acid tryptophan is an essential nutrient in virtually all our foods. Though it is not uncommon to hear of this, it sometimes doesn’t receive the due it deserves. Tryptophan has several benefits worth talking about.
|Mood enhancement||May potentially improve mood and support mental well-being by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.|
|Sleep aid||Tryptophan is converted into melatonin, which helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. It may aid in promoting restful sleep.|
|Niacin synthesis||Used by the body to produce niacin, a B vitamin essential for various physiological functions.|
Side effects of Tryptophan
While Tryptophan has many benefits, it can have several side effects that you should be aware of. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common ones.
|Digestive issues||When taking tryptophan supplements, you may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, stomach discomfort, or diarrhea.|
|Interaction with medications||Tryptophan may interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).|
|Allergic reactions||In rare cases, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to tryptophan supplements, such as rash, itching, or difficulty breathing.|
3. St. John’s Wort
With increasing anxieties, it’s hard to know what’s natural and what’s not. With St. John’s Wort, you have a natural remedy for your symptoms that has been used for years. The best thing about this green plant is that it is an herbal supplement for depression and anxiety and increases serotonin levels in the brain.
While St. John’s Wort is a herbal supplement that’s been used for centuries to treat anxiety, some people may experience side effects, including:
- Dry mouth
- Digestive issues
It’s important to note that St. John’s Wort can interact with certain medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, blood thinners, and others. It may also cause photosensitivity, making the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Therefore, consult a healthcare professional before using St. John’s Wort, especially if you take any medications or have underlying health conditions.
SAM-e stands for S-adenosylmethionine, a chemical found in every cell of your body. It helps create and break down important chemicals like DNA, RNA, and proteins. SAM-e is sold as a nutritional supplement in the United States.
It is thought to work by boosting levels of certain neurotransmitters — chemicals that send signals from one nerve cell to another. SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound with various health benefits, including improved mood, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, and relief of arthritic pain.
It is also an amino acid involved in the body’s production of proteins, hormones, and other important compounds. SAM-e supplements are available in the form of capsules or tablets. The recommended dosage for general use is typically around 400 milligrams per day. Still, talking to a healthcare professional is important to determine the appropriate dosage based on your specific condition or symptoms.
How to Choose the Right Serotonin Supplement?
Choosing the right serotonin supplement can be a daunting task. There are so many options, and picking the best one can be confusing, and most people don’t know what to look for, as they may not understand the benefits of using a specific supplement.
To make an informed decision, there are several factors to consider:
Ask your doctor. First, check with your doctor before taking any supplements or medications. Your doctor can help determine if there is any underlying medical condition causing your symptoms and whether taking a certain supplement might help improve them.
Look for a high-quality brand. Be sure to choose a high-quality brand from a reliable manufacturer when buying supplements. You don’t want to expose yourself to contaminated supplements — especially if you take them for mental health purposes!
Read the ingredients carefully. If you’re taking a serotonin supplement for depression or anxiety, it must contain L-tryptophan (or 5-HTP), an amino acid precursor of serotonin known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Ensure these ingredients are listed clearly on the label so you know exactly what you’re getting in each product dose.
Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Serotonin Supplements
Serotonin supplements are available in several forms, including pills, capsules, and liquid drops. The most common form is a capsule that’s taken orally. However, there are also serotonergic supplements that are taken sublingually (under the tongue).
Here are some tips for maximizing the benefits of serotonin supplements:
- Take your serotonin supplement at night before bedtime. This will allow it to take effect while resting and sleeping, so it can work on your brain chemistry all night without affecting your day-to-day activities.
- Use caution when taking serotonin supplements with other medications or supplements. Some medications interact negatively with serotonergic agents, so it’s best not to mix them unless you’re under the supervision of a doctor with experience treating patients with both types of drugs together.
- Don’t take more than one serotonin supplement at once. Taking more than one type of serotonin supplement at once can increase your risk of experiencing serious side effects from these medications. If you want to try two different types of serotonin supplements at once or want to combine one type with another medication, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor may be able to recommend combinations that work well together without increasing your risk for adverse effects like serotonin syndrome.
There are several different serotonin supplements, and the best way to ensure you’re getting one of the good ones is to do your homework. Do your research, and read the instructions before you begin.
While serotonin supplements can potentially improve your quality of life and mental health, there are certain risks associated with using SSRIs. Therefore, discussing the pros and cons of using these supplements with a trusted doctor or healthcare professional is important.
What Is the Best Serotonin Supplement?
Some common types of serotonin supplements include 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and L-tryptophan. These supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, and powders.
What Does a Serotonin Supplement Do?
Serotonin supplements may help to support mood, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and regulate appetite. They may also have other potential benefits, such as reducing symptoms of PMS or migraines.
S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): In Depth. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/sadenosyllmethionine-same-in-depth
S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): In Depth. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/sadenosyllmethionine-same-in-depth