What Is Serotonin?
Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT, is a naturally occurring chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter, or a chemical that transmits messages between nerve cells in your body known as neurons. Most individuals are familiar with serotonin's function in the central nervous system (CNS).
Serotonin plays crucial roles in several bodily functions besides just mood regulation and memory in the brain. In actuality, your gut, not your brain, contains the majority of the serotonin in your body. Nearly the majority of the body's serotonin is produced in the intestines, and serotonin is necessary to support a healthy digestive system.
Serotonin also aids in blood coagulation, bone health, sleep, and sexual function in other parts of the body. Here's a closer look at the numerous roles that serotonin plays in your body, what happens when you have too little (or too much), and some strategies for maintaining healthy levels.
Roles of Serotonin:
Serotonin is recognized to play a role in a variety of biological processes, including mood regulation and food digestion.
The effects of serotonin on the brain might be regarded as the body's main attraction. Serotonin is frequently referred to be the body's natural "feel-good" hormone since it aids in mood regulation. One of the many brain chemicals that contribute to your overall sense of well-being is serotonin, which affects mood.
Serotonin's impact on mood is another reason why drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders frequently target it.
For instance, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors class of antidepressants works by raising serotonin levels (SSRIs).
As you eat, serotonin decreases your appetite to help you feel full and supports healthy bowel function. In the intestines, it also serves as a protective factor.
For instance, your gut responds by creating more serotonin if you consume something unpleasant or harmful. The additional dose accelerates the elimination of undesirable food from your body.
The response also explains how elevated serotonin levels can make you feel queasy and how medications that target particular serotonin receptors can be used to treat nausea and vomiting.
Although its precise function in sleep is still being investigated, serotonin is thought to affect when, how much, and how well you sleep. Other neurotransmitters, including dopamine, also play a crucial role in the regulation of these functions in addition to serotonin.
The efficient operation of the sleep cycle also depends on the hormone melatonin. Serotonin is required by your body to create melatonin, thus having too little or too much of it might have an impact on the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Certain regions of your brain are in charge of regulating your sleep patterns, controlling when you go to sleep, and waking you up. Serotonin receptors can be found in the regions of the brain that control sleep.
4. Blood Clotting
Serotonin is released by the platelet cells in your blood to aid in the healing of any type of tissue damage, such as a cut. 12 The microscopic arteries of the cardiovascular system, called arterioles, become more constricted when serotonin levels are elevated. Blood flow slows down when they get smaller.
Vasoconstriction, a narrowing of the blood vessels, and reduced blood flow are two fundamental components of blood clotting, an essential stage in the healing of wounds.
5. Bone Density
Research suggests that serotonin levels may affect bone density (the strength of your bones). High levels of serotonin in the blood have been linked to illnesses like osteoporosis and reduced bone density, according to research.
According to research, SSRI drugs are linked to a decline in bone mineral density. You are more likely to suffer a fracture if you have low bone density.
Serotonin levels can be raised by:
Although serotonin is found in many meals naturally, your body also needs other nutrients, like tryptophan, vitamin B6, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, to make serotonin.
Foods rich in these essential elements include:
Nuts and seeds
Oily, fatty fish (tuna and salmon)
Your gut bacteria will stay healthy if you eat a high-fiber diet full of fruits and vegetables. Given that the intestines produce the majority of your body's serotonin (approximately 95%), having a healthy mix of friendly bacteria in your intestines has been related to having enough levels of serotonin.
It has been demonstrated that regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, raises serotonin levels. But regular exercise has advantages that extend beyond the brain.
Exercise also supports cardiovascular health, enhances strength and endurance, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight, all of which can help people manage depression and other mood disorders.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise each week plus strength training two days per week.
3. Increasing exposure to sunshine-
If you don't get out in the sun often, your serotonin levels might drop. One idea explaining why individuals suffer sadness during the brief, gloomy days of fall and winter is a lack of sunshine exposure.
4. Taking supplements-
Although your diet can help you improve your overall nutrition, several supplements may also be beneficial.
Common dietary supplements to think about include:
5. Increasing your physical activity and reducing your stress
How is Serotonin linked to depression?
A low level of serotonin has also been found to be one of the reasons for depression. Increasing serotonin levels in the brain appear to enhance brain cell communication, which elevates mood and lessens depressive symptoms. This is why clinical depression and other mood disorders are treated with prescription antidepressants.
The most often prescribed antidepressants globally are SSRIs(Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). By raising serotonin levels in the brain, these medications are used to lessen the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe depression. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are a different class of serotonin-based antidepressants (SNRIs).
Not only does a low level of serotonin affect the body but also a high level of serotonin leads to health problems such as serotonin syndrome in which one faces high blood pressure, anxiety, and loss of consciousness.