What makes you happy? This is a question you may have heard once or twice in your life.
Have you ever thought of what actually makes you happy? We’re talking about (precursor to) serotonin, the ‘happy hormone.’ Our happy and joyful moods have their origins somewhere in our bodies.
Serotonin is known as being responsible for our moods, but it also plays some other important role in our lifestyle. For instance, having a peaceful night sleep depends on your serotonin levels.
Let’s look at some facts about serotonin to understand it better.
Precursor to serotonin: what it is and what role it plays
The medical definition of serotonin says that it is a chemical produced by nerve cells. It is mostly found in our digestive system. The ‘happy hormone’ is made from tryptophan, an essential amino acid which we find in different foods.
Maintaining a healthy level of serotonin in your body impacts not only your moods, but also other aspects such as sleep, blood clotting, and bone health. We will discuss each element.
As we’ve mentioned before, serotonin is responsible for regulating your moods. Low levels have been linked to anxiety and depression, while high levels can reduce your libido and decrease arousal.
Normal levels help you remain emotionally stable, focused on what you have to do, calm and happy.
Normal levels of serotonin help you have a healthy sleep. Low serotonin can cause sleep disruptions and disorders, including insomnia. High levels can lead to staying awake and sleeping less.
Serotonin plays an essential role in healing our wounds, as blood platels release this chemical when we need it.
Serotonin is mainly responsible for your nausea. When you eat something which upsets your stomach, serotonin is released and makes your body to empty your stomach, leading to diarrhea.
How to maintain normal serotonin levels
We’ve said it many times earlier that normal serotonin levels help you have a healthy and happy life. The normal values from your blood are between 101 and 283 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
Don’t take this as it is. You need a specialized opinion to tell if your values are ok or if you need to take some action. Your doctor will tell you all you need to know about your blood test results. Make sure you get all the answers you need on your next visit.
What you can do to maintain normal serotonin levels is pay attention to these lifestyle aspects:
- your diet
- sun exposure
Maintain a healthy diet
Serotonin is made of tryptophan. Consuming foods which contain this amino acid can help you maintain a healthy serotonin level.
There are a few foods which are rich the tryptophan amino acid:
- Eggs – (especially the yolks) are rich in tryptophan
- Turkey – a healthy meat with great benefits for your body
- Salmon – having great benefits for your health such as balancing your cholesterol and being a great source omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also a valuable source of tryptophan
- Tofu – if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, tofu is a delicious source of tryptophan
- Cheese – if you are a cheese fan, you hit the jackpot. Cheese is delicious and a great source of this amino acid. Make sure, though, you go for natural options, not processed products.
- Nuts and seeds – rich in vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and tryptophan
- Pineapple – last but not least, this fruit is not only fresh, but also rich in tryptophan
Vitamin B6 can also help you boost your serotonin level, so taking some supplements can really help you. To be 100%, check this with your doctor.
Regular sun exposure
Regular sun exposure such as going for a walk on a sunny day is recommended. If the temperatures are really high, make sure you avoid peak hours and you wear sunscreen.
Exercising regularly can help you have a good mood, remain calm and happy. It also has a positive impact on your metabolism and sleep.
Enjoy a little meditation
Taking a few moments just for yourself can totally change how you feel. Meditation helps you detach from your daily worries, relieves stress and boost your serotonin levels. Take a few minutes for you each day and you’ll see how things start to change.
Precursor to serotonin product recommendations
If you are looking for some vitamin B6 supplements, here are a few option you can check.