health Jul 23, 2021
Photo by S&B Vonlanthen / Unsplash

The happy chemical that contributes to wellbeing and happiness and has a wide variety of functions in the human body is the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
It is called the "Happy molecule "as it plays an important role in a positive mood.
The scientific name of serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT and it is a monoamine neurotransmitter.
It is mainly found in the brain, gastrointestinal tract, blood platelets and exhibits a wide range of functions in both the central nervous system and other parts of the body, especially the brain  and the gastrointestinal tract.
90% of the human body's total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells of the gut. There, it helps control bowel movements and gastrointestinal motility.
It is also stored in blood platelets and released during blood clotting, to function  as a vasoconstrictor or vasodilator. It is released from blood platelets  to help heal wounds.
Drugs and toxins stimulate serotonin release from enterochromaffin cells in the gut wall to increase the motility of the gut wall causing diarrhoea, so that the gut is emptied of the  harmful substance.
If serotonin is released from the gut wall into the blood faster than its absorption by platelets, the level of free serotonin in the blood is increased and this can stimulate vomiting to expel drugs and toxins.
Serotonin containing enterochromaffin cells are also very sensitive to irradiation and cancer chemotherapy.
The remainder is synthesized in serotonergic nerve cells of the central nervous system, stored in vesicles of nerve cells endings and  sends signals between nerve cells during neurotransmission.
Its various other functions are the regulation of mood, appetite, eating behaviour, digestion,  sexual behaviour, sleep, temperature, modulating cognition, reward, learning, memory, fear, wound healing, maintenance of bone health.
It is also considered a natural mood stabilizer as it helps regulate a person's mood naturally by reducing depression, and regulating anxiety .
When serotonin levels are normal, a person may  feel more emotionally stable, happier, calmer, more focused, and less anxious.

Signs of serotonin deficiency

Low levels or deficiency of serotonin causes anxiety, depression, a sad depressed mood, anger, low energy, negative thoughts, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, social phobias, insomnia, attention and eating disorders, crave for sweets, constipation, migraines, multiple sclerosis, feeling glum from lack of sunlight, feeling excessively dependent on others, upset feelings, exaggerated fear of danger due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),low self-esteem, poor cognitive function, feeling tense and irritable, joylessness, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears),seasonal affective disorder.

Impacts of serotonin deficiency

Low levels or deficiency of serotonin has its impacts on overall health and even the longevity of a person. Serotonin deficiency may increase risk for heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s, weight gain due to overeating carbs, severity of symptoms of asthma, fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The symptoms are expressed differently in men and women.
Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, overeating carbs appear more in women  than men.
Men are more prone to alcoholism, ADHD, and impulse control disorders. Alcohol can worsen the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.
Generally, doctors will prescribe antidepressants and while taking serotonin drugs, no other medications are not to be suggested without first talking to the doctor. Mixing drugs may put at risk.
Sunshine or light therapy is commonly recommended for treating seasonal depression.
Serotonin levels and mood-boosting effects can be achieved by regular exercise,  meditation, drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily, eating at least three meals per day, taking protein and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice with every meal and avoiding sugar, junk food, white pasta, white rice, white bread, cookies, cakes, caffeine, alcohol, or NutraSweet.

A healthy diet can also increase serotonin levels.

Food sources of serotonin

Foods that contain serotonin are walnuts, hickory nuts, bananas, pineapples, kiwis, plums and tomatoes, dark chocolate, cold-water fatty fish, green tea, fermented foods, and the spice turmeric
Serotonin levels in the body can be increased by eating healthy carbohydrates separately from protein, eggs, cheese, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and pineapple.
Supplements that increase serotonin levels are B complex vitamins, Magnesium, omega-3 essential fatty acids, curcumin and Probiotics.
Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan and it enters the body through the diet. It is commonly found in foods such as nuts, cheese, and red meat. Tryptophan deficiency can lead to lower serotonin levels.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.