Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, produces serotonin. The body must first convert tryptophan to niacin before it can be turned to serotonin. Serotonin synthesis requires vitamin B6, B12, and iron. A low tryptophan diet can lower brain serotonin levels. People with mood disorders (depression, anxiety) have been shown to have low tryptophan levels. Serotonin synthesis is boosted by exercise and sunlight.
Chicken, eggs, cheese, peanuts, turkey, tofu, fish, pumpkin and sesame seeds
Beef liver, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, green veggies, bananas, papaya, oranges, chicken, cantaloupe
Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fortified cereals
Red meat, poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables, beans, fortified cereals
Eating tryptophan containing foods with carbohydrates will promote the release of insulin in the blood. The insulin will then put other proteins from the meal into the cells which is desirable because they compete with tryptophan to get to the brain. This leaves tryptophan with less competition to get to the brain and produce serotonin. The gut produces most of the body's serotonin. The microbiota is the 100 trillion microorganisms in the human digestive tract (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa). It affects our immunity, appetite, and energy levels, as well as our gut health. It also helps digestion and nutrient availability by fermenting and easing digestion of specific foods. The microbiota makes neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA (GABA). The gut's serotonin has the same effects as the brain's serotonin. Keeping the microbiome healthy can help maintain neurotransmitter production. Probiotic foods and fiber-rich diets help the intestines grow new bacteria.
Black beans, lima beans, avacados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pears, figs
Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kefir, yogurt
Trans fats promote inflammation and decrease serotonin synthesis. Eating tryptophan-rich foods without carbs can reduce serotonin production in the brain. Dietary deficiencies of B vitamins can also impair serotonin synthesis. Finally, a diet deficient in fiber and fermented foods can reduce serotonin production.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily absorbed. It aids in several metabolic processes and is vital for brain development. It aids in the production of neurotransmitters and in immunological function.
Vitamin B6 is digested and is taken up by the liver and muscles for storage and carried around the blood by albumin.
Vitamin B12 aids in nutrition metabolism, energy production, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is required for regular red blood cell formation. Vitamin B12 absorption is more difficult than other vitamins and takes 3-4 hours. Vitamin B12 is absorbed and then stored in the liver.
Milk and whole milk cheeses, beef, poultry, shellfish, and eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, non-dairy milk and supplement capsules.
Folate (vitamin B9) is a B vitamin required for DNA synthesis, cell division, and general growth. This vitamin is naturally present in foods.
Unlike folate, folic acid is not found in foods. Synthetic folate is added to meals, especially breakfast cereals, fortified grains, and supplements. It was intended to help avoid frequent neural tube abnormalities in the US.
Dietary folate sources are abundant. Some examples include: beef liver, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, brussel sprouts, oranges, bananas, lemon, melons, nuts, beans, peas.
Folic acid is added to different processed food products including: fortified cereals, breads, pastas, and rice, dietary supplements.