Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mood: Serotonin

I am going to deal with Clinical Depression in a later post. Today I am just addressing the milder ‘blues’ and moodiness.
Your mood and motivation isn’t only in your mind – as you should have already learned from my older posts- it’s in the chemistry of your mind.
Ensuring optimum nutrition for your mind not only improves mood but it also gives you the motivation to make changes in your life.

Serotonin of course influences our mood. Adrenalin and noradrenalin- made from dopamine – influence our motivation. All the major antidepressants are formulated to influence the balance of one of these neurotransmitters. From a nutritional perspective – we are lacking the building blocks, those nutrients, that are going to help us produce these vital mood enhancing neurotransmitters.

Serotonin deficiency is linked to one of these 5 main reasons:
1. Not enough estrogen or testosterone (female and male): the hormone connection. And what you might not realize is that if you are deficient in vitamins, lacking in essential fats, and have poor blood sugar control, you are very likely to experience mood swings when your hormones go up and down.

2. Not enough light - winter blues anyone?

3. Not enough exercise EXERCISE: counters the serotonin loss that stress causes so get out there and get moving!

4.Too much stress (especially in women)

5. Not enough cofactor vitamins and minerals (B6,B12,folic acid, magnesium and chromium especially

6. Blood Sugar imbalances (is this starting to sound familiar?) Again –Eat small regular meals of natural, unprocessed foods, including protein and fiber at each one and taking a combination of B vitamins and the mineral chromium. We covered this earlier to some extent I know but it bears repeating!

Choose foods that help make serotonin: fish, turkey, chicken, cheese, tofu oats, beans and eggs all have tryptophan which is an amino acid that – you guessed it – help make serotonin (come on – you knew this too didn’t you?)

5-HTP – short for 5-hydroxytryptophan is derived from an African Plant called griffonia .You can buy this affordably at your local Health Food store. They have been studying this nutrient since the 70’s and have found amazing results. One study where the patients were given either a common SSRI antidepressant or 5-HTP found that after 6 weeks, though both groups had improved, those taking 5-HTP had a greater improvement in each of the four criteria assessed- depression, anxiety, insomnia, and physical symptoms, as well as the patient’s self –assessment – and with no side effects.

50-100 mg two times a day Please note that though a recent review on 5-HTP confirms its safety again, Holford does not recommend you supplement this nutrient if you are currently taking SSRI medication.

Also – you may experience nausea the first time you take it but just decrease the dose and that should go away as your body adjusts. Try eating a piece of fruit when taking it but it is best if taken on an empty stomach – for absorption.

Oh and if you get very sleepy on 5-HTP then you probably don’t need it.

Anyone trying to find out their root cause for depression needs to take blood and urine tests to discover:
Serotonin and noradrenalin levels – do they NEED boosting?
Homocysteine level – is it too high?
Essential Fats – are your levels high enough?
Blood – sugar balance – is yours within a healthy range?

This makes sense – give the body what it needs! I will cover this more in a later post too.

Long again but good yes?

1 comment:

  1. Once again, good stuff. You're causing me to renew an interest in nutrition. . . maybe. :)

    On a technical-blogging note:

    You're voice comes through in this post. Love that! Keep writing and expressing information in that way that is oh, so Sarah: sweet and spunky!

    Good use of bullets! They are good for those interested, but in a hurry. They are also good for those, like me, who need to go back and re-read for summary sake.

    I'm wondering what you would think of making a chart at some point that lists all the topics you write about (i.e. depression, memory) along the top. Rows along the side could be labeled with things to try, such as specific vitamins and foods. You could put an x where symptoms and things to try meet. In other words, it would look like a multiplication chart. There would be an X where Depression and chicken meet. Maybe a quantity per week would be better than an X. Just a thought. (I'm a chart girl.)

    I love you, you amazing friend of mine!