Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced by nerve cells. It communicates with your nerve cells. Serotonin is mostly present in the digestive system, although it is also found in blood platelets and the central nervous system.
Tryptophan, an important amino acid, is used to make serotonin. This amino acid is present in foods like nuts, cheese, and red meat and must be consumed via your diet. Low serotonin levels can be caused by a tryptophan shortage. Mood disorders, such as anxiety or sadness, might occur as a result of this.
Functions of Serotonin in the body
Serotonin plays a vital role in major body functions. Here’s how serotonin affects your body’s numerous functions:-
- Serotonin is largely present in the stomach and intestines of the body. It aids in the regulation of bowel motions and function.
- Serotonin is considered to control anxiety, happiness, and mood in the brain. Low levels of the chemical have been linked to sadness, and medication-induced increases in serotonin are considered to reduce arousal.
- Serotonin has a role in making you feel nauseous. In diarrhoea, serotonin production increases to help push out unpleasant or upsetting food more rapidly. The level of the chemical rises in the blood, stimulating the region of the brain that regulates nausea.
- Low serotonin levels are linked to enhanced libido, whereas high serotonin levels are linked to decreased libido.
- Sleep: This chemical stimulates the areas of the brain that govern sleep and wakefulness. What region is activated and which serotonin receptor is engaged determines whether you sleep or wake up.
- Blood clotting: Serotonin is released by blood platelets to aid wound healing. Serotonin causes small arteries to constrict, which aids in the formation of blood clots.
- Bone health: Serotonin is important for bone health. Serotonin levels in the bones that are abnormally high might cause osteoporosis, which weakens the bones.
What is Serotonin Syndrome?
A dangerous medication response is serotonin syndrome. It is caused by drugs that induce the body to produce excessive amounts of serotonin.
When you raise the amount of some drugs or start using a new one, serotonin syndrome might develop. Combining serotonin-containing drugs, such as a migraine medication with an antidepressant, is the most common cause. Serotonin syndrome has been linked to the use of illegal substances and dietary supplements.
Serotonin levels in the normal range
Serotonin levels in the blood should be between 101 and 283 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL). This benchmark, however, may vary significantly based on the measures and samples analysed, so discuss particular test findings with your doctor.
Serotonin levels that are too high might be an indication of carcinoid syndrome. This refers to a set of symptoms associated with malignancies of the:
colon bronchial tubes small intestine appendix
To diagnose or rule out the condition, a doctor will do a blood test to assess serotonin levels in your blood.
Serotonin Deficiency: What Causes It?
Depression and other mood disorders associated with serotonin are multifactorial, meaning they can be caused by a variety of factors. Low serotonin levels aren’t enough to produce depression on their own. Low amounts, on the other hand, can cause mood, sleep, digestive, and other problems.
Low serotonin levels can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common are a lack of serotonin or inefficient utilisation of the serotonin you do have. In the first situation, your body does not produce enough serotonin to sustain normal levels, so you have low levels.
How to Boost Serotonin Production
Chemical abnormalities in the brain have been linked to depression. While the role of serotonin in depression is more complicated than an imbalance, it is thought to be important.
Increased serotonin levels in the brain appear to increase communication between brain cells, which elevates mood and alleviates depression symptoms. This is why clinical depression and other mood disorders are treated with prescription antidepressant drugs.
Serotonin levels can also be raised in a natural way. Everything you consume, from what you eat to how much sunshine you get, has an impact on how much serotonin your body has and how well it can use it.
Is there a connection between serotonin and depression?
Many scientists think that an imbalance in serotonin levels might affect mood in a way that leads to depression. Low serotonin synthesis in brain cells, a lack of receptor sites to accept the serotonin produced, difficulty of serotonin to reach receptor sites, or a deficiency of tryptophan, the molecule that serotonin is formed from, are all possible concerns. Researchers think that any of these metabolic malfunctions can contribute to melancholy, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and even excessive hostility.
Although a serotonin shortage is thought to have a role in depression, there is no means to assess serotonin levels in the live brain. As a result, there have been no studies demonstrating that when depression or any other mental disorder develops, brain levels of this or any other neurotransmitter are in short supply. Serotonin levels in the blood can be measured and have been proven to be lower in persons with depression, but researchers aren’t sure if blood levels represent serotonin levels in the brain.
Researchers aren’t sure if a decline in serotonin causes depression or if depression causes a drop in serotonin levels.
Antidepressant drugs that focus on serotonin levels are thought to help with depressive symptoms, although the specific mechanism is unknown.
Almost every area of your body is affected by serotonin. It’s in charge of a lot of the critical functions that keep us going throughout the day. If your levels are out of whack, it can have a negative impact on your mental, physical, and emotional health. A serotonin imbalance might sometimes indicate something more severe. It’s critical to pay attention to your body and discuss any concerns with your doctor.