Handy Health Hint:
Serotonin is a hormone that functions as a neuro-transmitter. Much of the newest serotonin research focuses on the molecule’s activity not as a neurotransmitter, a conveyor of information, but as a hormone, a shaper of tissues. It regulates the growth and maintenance of the skeletal system throughout life (breaking down old bone and building new bone), and is thought to regulate learning, memory, mood and sleep.
Some cases of depression are influenced by reduced quantities or activity of serotonin in the brain and we tend to have seasonal variation in levels, with lower levels in the winter months. Adequate sleep, physical exercise and activity increase serotonin levels.
Most all protein foods contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, including walnuts, chicken, turkey, eggs, salmon, spirulina and soybeans. Folic acid is needed for the absorption of tryptophan – you can literally eat your way to happiness with food rich in tryptophan and folic acid, the building blocks to maintaining high levels of serotonin. Remember to eat your leafy greens, beans, and whole grains – good sources of folic acid.
And what about romance? Oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’ due to its part in bonding, mating and the birth process, is increased when we experience love, trust and comfort – thus spending time in enjoyable social interaction with friends, family and our romantic partner (including sexual activity and orgasm) are other ways to increase our serotonin levels and our sense of well being and mood.