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Tired and Need a Boost? Support Serotonin Naturally!

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
July 3, 2023
December 18, 2023

Want natural ways to boost your mood and improve mental health? Well, serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood, appetite, and sleep - might just be magic. Check out these simple and effective ways to increase serotonin levels naturally, from diet to exercise to stress reduction.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. It is involved in many physiological processes, including the modulation of emotions, memory, and cognitive functions.

If you don't have enough serotonin, you may experience symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, low mood, sleep disturbances, and difficulty with concentration and memory. Serotonin deficiency has also been linked to other mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder (BPD).

4 Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin

While medications can help increase serotonin levels, there are also natural ways to boost serotonin production. Here are 4 big ones:

1. Diet

Tryptophan-rich foods boost mood because tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. Eat more: chicken, eggs, nuts, and seeds.

Eating foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin, can help. Carbohydrates also increase serotonin levels by triggering the release of insulin, which helps tryptophan enter the brain. However, it is important to choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, instead of simple sugars.

2. Exercise

Elevate serotonin naturally with exercise! Target about 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, with moderate-intensity workouts.

Exercise increases the production of tryptophan, which can be used to make serotonin. Additionally, exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress. Boost that serotonin and those happy feelings. Go!

3. Sunshine

Sunlight triggers the production vitamin D, which is needed for serotonin synthesis. So get outdoors for a mood lift!

Spending time outdoors and getting sunlight exposure can also improve mood and reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

4. Self-Care

Elevate serotonin levels with self-care! Treat yourself—something as simple as applying a nighttime facial mask also counts!

Engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as hobbies, meditation, or yoga, can reduce stress and improve mood. Adequate sleep and stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness, can also help regulate serotonin levels.


In conclusion, boosting serotonin levels naturally can improve mental and emotional health. Incorporating tryptophan-rich foods, complex carbohydrates, exercise, sunlight exposure, and stress-reducing activities can help increase serotonin production and promote a more positive mood. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary or lifestyle changes.

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