Sharing these 5 foods to help boost serotonin seemed appropriate, given that it is Mental Health Awareness Month.
What is Serotonin?
Here are some things about serotonin you might not have known:
- Serotonin is involved in the regulation of mood and anxiety, low brain serotonin levels may contribute to increased anxiety and depression.
- There are four major hormones of “happiness.” They include: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphin.
- 90% of serotonin is located in the gut, and it is important for gut motility.
What is Tryptophan?
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in many protein-based foods and dietary proteins including meats, dairy, fruits, and seeds.
It is a precursor of serotonin synthesis, but must be obtained through the diet because it cannot be synthesized by the body. In other words, tryptophan converts to serotonin in the brain, but that must be achieved through my second pillar, diet.
Therefore, the idea would be that we would enjoy more tryptophan foods in order to boost serotonin.
In one study, participants consuming higher levels of tryptophan (>10 mg/kg body weight/d) had significantly less depression and irritability and decreased anxiety than when they consumed lower levels of tryptophan.
That said, other studies say the correlation is still too weak to proclaim anything definitely. And yet, the below 5 foods are, in general, healthy all around. In other words, for most of you they will be a “win” situation, maybe a win-win.
5 Foods to Help Boost Serotonin
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Pumpkin seeds are especially high in tryptophan and can be roasted for a delicious snack. 100g of pumpkin seeds contain almost 600 mg tryptophan.
Bet you didn’t guess this one?! Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid). Additionally, it has about 929mg of tryptophan per 100 gram serving. This algae contains contains almost 5x the amount of tryptophan as turkey!
Yolks are extremely rich in tryptophan and tyrosine, choline, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that are major contributors to the health benefits and antioxidant properties of eggs. In 100g of egg there is 167mg tryptophan. Note: cage-free, organic provides the highest quality.
Yes, of course you knew this one would be included. Tryptophan is great for sleep and we all know that after a big Thanksgiving turkey meal, plenty of naps are necessary. So that’s not just a complete myth (also, you’re tired for many other reasons than just the turkey). Note: pasture-raised, organic provides the highest quality. A turkey breast will give you about 110% DV tryptophan.
I won’t lie. I believe that, no matter what, salmon is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It always make the list of healthiest fats, among many other things. And, its known for helping with sleep and mood due to the tryptophan and high-quality omega-3’s. A 4 oz serving of salmon contains approximately 250–400 mg of tryptophan.
How Much Tryptophan Per Day?
The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight or 1.8mg per pound. So a person weighing 70kg (~154 pounds) should consume around 280mg of tryptophan per day.
Ways to Incorporate the 5 Foods to Help Boost Serotonin
- Incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet:
- Incorporate spirulina into your diet:
- Grab the powder HERE, and toss it into a smoothie. (GUTSY10 at checkout to save 10%)
- Use that same powder, make a green juice, and stir the Spirulina powder in at the end.
- Incorporate eggs into your diet:
- Incorporate turkey into your diet:
- Incorporate wild salmon into your diet:
So, grab something with a lot of tryptophan and spike that mood. Well, hopefully!
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You will heal. I will help.