Serotonin is commonly known as the brain chemical that is responsible for regulating mood and making you feel happy. Low levels of it are linked to mood disorders, irritability, and sleeping issues. The hormone enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other, and it helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. It’s safe to say that you don’t want to be low on serotonin. That’s why today we’re going to go over seven foods that can naturally boost your serotonin levels!
But before we get into the list, we need to look at tryptophan. This amino acid is key to brain function, a healthy sleep, and is also important for the production of serotonin. Since serotonin itself cannot be found in food sources, we have to find foods that contain tryptophan so that our bodies can produce serotonin.
Though tryptophan is often found in foods that contain a lot of protein, there are many sources outside of meat that contain the amino acid. Let’s take a look!
Eating just two servings of salmon per week should be enough tryptophan for most people.
Salmon is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which support strong bones, healthy skin, and eye function. On top of that, it is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, which is essential for strong muscles, bones, and teeth.
How healthy your eggs are depend on how they’re cooked. For example, frying eggs can add extra fat to them, while poached or boiled eggs do not. Which ever way you decide to cook your eggs, if you want tryptophan, make sure to include the yolks. That’s where most of the tryptophan can be found!
A great source of iron, spinach is also high in tryptophan. In fact, most dark leafy greens are! Include spinach in your salads, bowls, or smoothies for that added boost.
Though not as heavy in tryptophan as meat, fish, or eggs, seeds still do carry some of the amino acid. Since they make such an enjoyable snack or can be added to many dishes as a topping it’s a good source for those who don’t eat meat or eggs. Try to find breads that contain an array of seeds!
Milk is another easy way to get tryptophan since you can include it in recipes, have it with cereal, or simply drink a glass! Look for low-fat options if you think you may be consuming a lot of milk and want to watch your saturated fat intake.
High in protein, soy products are a great source of tryptophan, especially for those who don’t eat meat or dairy. This includes tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, and any products that contain soy!
Not only can snacking on nuts between meals help you feel full for longer, but it can also give you a nice boost of tryptophan. If you’re looking for a healthy and hearty snack to get you through the day, pick a type of nut. There are tons to choose from!
The Bottom Line
Like always, making sure you’re eating a range of whole foods will help your body function at its best.
But if you’re still not feeling yourself…
And serotonin doesn’t seem to be helping…
It could be due to a deficiency in a vitamin that isn’t really found in foods.
If so, it’s up to you to make sure you’re getting what you need.
But it’s not as simple as just taking a vitamin D tablet. There’s much more to it.