Your Brain on Food and Supplements – Serotonin

by Stephen Mills on May 20, 2009


This is the fourth article in the series on how to balance your brain chemistry with food and supplements.  Please read the first three articles in the series:

Your Brain on Food and Supplements – Dopamine
Your Brain on Food and Supplements – Acetylcholine
Your Brain on Food and Supplements – GABA

Serotonin is used in your gut extensively (80% to 90% is found there) but we are concerned about the brain.  In your brain it does various things  like control of appetite, mood and anger.

Serotonin natures are happy, sensory, and live in the moment.  Despite being calm they can be very impulsive and like to seek a wide variety of exciting new activities.

Serotonin deficiency is a primary cause of mood or depression disorders.  Other symptoms can include carbohydrate-craving, allergies, arthritis, backache, constipation, diarrhea, headache, insomnia, premature ejaculation, tinnitus, yawning, lack of pleasure, being a loner, OCD, perfectionism, rage, shyness, lack of concentration, and slow reactions.

How to Increase Your Serotonin Levels

In order to increase your serotonin, you need more tryptophan.  Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin.  Here is a list of the best food sources for tryptophan.  The list is basically in descending order of how much you get from a typical portion.

  • Wild game
  • Pork
  • Avocado
  • Wheat germ
  • Egg
  • Duck
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Turkey
  • Ricotta
  • Sausage
  • Halibut
  • Whole grain oats
  • Beef liver
  • Chicken
  • Oat
  • Granola
  • Chocolate
  • Whole Milk


L-Tryptophan – Take 500 mg to 2,000 mg a day in divided doses between late afternoon and bedtime.  Take more at night if you need help sleeping.  Take with food during the day to avoid daytime sleepiness.

5-HTP – Take 100 mg to 600 mg a day in divided doses between late afternoon and bedtime.  Take more at night if you need help sleeping.  Take with food during the day to avoid daytime sleepiness.  I strongly prefer this to L-Tryptophan because it crosses the blood-brain barrier much better and you need far less.

If you suffer depression you can take these on an empty stomach in the morning too.  This will help your depression but may make you sleepy.  It has that effect on me so I take mine late.


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