Serotonin Supplements: the consequences of deficiency and natural ways to help
Serotonin Supplements: the consequences of deficiency and natural ways to help

Imbalances in serotonin levels have been linked to various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Here are the top supplements you can naturally enhance serotonin production and promote mental and emotional wellness.


Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in the central nervous system. It functions as a chemical messenger, transmitting signals between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and throughout the body.

Often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter, it plays a crucial role in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and overall well-being.

Imbalances in serotonin levels have been linked to various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

While there are medications available to address serotonin imbalances, some individuals prefer a more natural approach.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of serotonin, the consequences of its deficiency, and explore a range of nutritional supplements that can naturally enhance serotonin production and promote mental and emotional wellness.

Understanding Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a chemical messenger in the brain and central nervous system. It is primarily synthesized in the brain from an amino acid called tryptophan.

Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood, promoting feelings of happiness and contentment, supporting cognitive function, and maintaining healthy sleep patterns.

The Science Behind Serotonin

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The science behind how serotonin works involves several key processes:

  1. Synthesis: Serotonin is synthesized in the brain and central nervous system from the essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin production and is obtained from the diet and is transported across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. It's found in turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, albeit in limited quantities. Inside the neurons, tryptophan is converted into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase. Subsequently, 5-HTP is converted into serotonin by the enzyme aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase.

  2. Release and Binding: Once synthesized, serotonin is stored in vesicles within the neurons. When an electrical signal travels down a neuron, it reaches the presynaptic terminal, causing the vesicles to release serotonin into the synaptic cleft, the small gap between neurons. Serotonin then binds to specific receptor sites on the postsynaptic neuron.

  3. Receptor Activation: Serotonin receptors, also known as 5-HT receptors, are found on the surface of postsynaptic neurons as well as on other cell types throughout the body. There are multiple subtypes of serotonin receptors, including 5-HT1 to 5-HT7 receptors. Each subtype has different effects and is present in various regions of the brain and body. When serotonin binds to its receptors, it activates them, triggering a cascade of intracellular events and influencing various physiological and psychological processes.

  4. Signal Transmission: Serotonin receptors modulate the transmission of signals between neurons. Depending on the subtype and location of the receptor, serotonin can either inhibit or excite the postsynaptic neuron, leading to different effects. For example, activation of certain serotonin receptors can modulate mood, emotions, sleep, appetite, and cognition.

  5. Reuptake and Recycling: After serotonin has transmitted its signal, it is taken back up into the presynaptic neuron through a process called reuptake. The serotonin transporter protein on the presynaptic neuron's surface facilitates this reuptake. Once inside the neuron, serotonin can be either stored in vesicles for future release or broken down by enzymes such as monoamine oxidase (MAO) to maintain a balance of serotonin levels.

Understanding the science behind how serotonin works provides insights into the complex interplay between neurotransmitters, receptors, and neural circuits, contributing to our understanding of mental health and the development of therapeutic interventions.

Why Do You Need Serotonin?

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Imbalances in serotonin levels or disruptions in its signaling pathways have been associated with various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and certain neurological disorders.

Having an adequate level of serotonin is vital for overall brain health and well-being. This neurotransmitter contributes to numerous physiological and psychological functions, including:

Mood Regulation

Serotonin helps regulate emotions, promoting feelings of happiness, relaxation, and contentment. It is often associated with a sense of well-being and a positive outlook on life.

Sleep Quality

Serotonin is involved in the regulation of sleep patterns. It helps with sleep disorders promote restful sleep and supports healthy circadian rhythms.

Appetite Control

Serotonin plays a role in appetite regulation. It helps regulate food intake and contributes to feelings of satiety.

Cognitive Function

Serotonin is involved in various cognitive processes, including memory, learning, and attention.

Consequences of Serotonin Deficiency

When serotonin levels in the brain become low, it can have various effects on mental and emotional well-being. Here are some common consequences of low brain serotonin levels:


Serotonin deficiency is strongly associated with depressive symptoms. Individuals with low serotonin levels often experience persistent sadness, a lack of interest or pleasure in activities they once enjoyed, low energy levels, and feelings of hopelessness.


Serotonin helps regulate anxiety levels. When serotonin levels are low, it can lead to increased anxiety, heightened worry, restlessness, and an overall sense of unease.

Mood swings

Serotonin imbalance can result in frequent mood swings, making it difficult to stabilize emotions. People may experience heightened irritability, anger, and a decreased ability to cope with stress.

Sleep disturbances

Serotonin plays a crucial role in sleep regulation. Low serotonin levels can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having poor sleep quality.

Increased sensitivity to pain

Serotonin contributes to pain regulation. When serotonin levels are low, individuals may become more sensitive to pain stimuli, experiencing heightened discomfort and reduced pain tolerance.

Poor cognitive function

Serotonin is involved in cognitive processes such as memory, learning, and attention. A deficiency in serotonin can result in difficulties with concentration, memory retention, and overall cognitive function.

Appetite changes

Serotonin is known to regulate appetite. When serotonin levels are low, individuals may experience changes in appetite, such as increased cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, leading to potential weight gain.

What are SSRIs?

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Medications that target serotonin, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the synaptic cleft, enhancing its effects and potentially improving symptoms.

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are a class of medications commonly prescribed to treat various mental health conditions, particularly depression and anxiety disorders.

They work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain by blocking its reuptake, thus allowing serotonin to remain in the synaptic cleft for a longer duration and enhancing its effects on target neurons.

Some commonly prescribed SSRIs include:

  1. Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  2. Sertraline (Zoloft)

  3. Escitalopram (Lexapro)

  4. Citalopram (Celexa)

  5. Paroxetine (Paxil)

  6. Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

SSRIs are generally considered safe and effective for many individuals, but like any medication, they can have potential risks and side effects. Some important considerations regarding SSRIs include:

  1. Side effects: Common side effects of SSRIs can include nausea, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, sexual dysfunction (such as decreased libido or difficulty achieving orgasm), and sleep disturbances. Side effects can vary depending on the specific medication and the individual's response.

  2. Initial worsening of symptoms: In some cases, individuals may experience an initial worsening of symptoms before experiencing the therapeutic benefits of SSRIs. This can include increased anxiety, restlessness, or irritability. It is important to communicate any changes in symptoms with the prescribing healthcare professional.

  3. Suicidal thoughts: There is a rare but potential risk of increased suicidal thoughts, particularly in young adults and adolescents, when starting or changing the dosage of SSRIs. Close monitoring and regular communication with healthcare professionals are crucial, especially during the early stages of treatment.

  4. Serotonin syndrome: While relatively rare, serotonin syndrome is a potential risk associated with SSRIs, particularly when combined with other medications or substances that increase serotonin levels. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include agitation, confusion, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, sweating, tremors, and in severe cases, seizures and loss of consciousness. If you experience any symptoms of serotonin syndrome, seek immediate medical attention.

  5. Discontinuation syndrome: Abruptly stopping SSRIs can lead to discontinuation symptoms, which can include flu-like symptoms, dizziness, irritability, and mood changes. It is generally recommended to gradually taper off SSRIs under the guidance of a healthcare professional to minimize these effects.

  6. Interactions with other medications: SSRIs can interact with certain medications, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), certain migraine medications, and some herbal supplements. These interactions can potentially lead to serotonin syndrome or other adverse effects. Inform your healthcare professional about all medications and supplements you are taking to avoid any potential interactions.

Natural Strategies for Enhancing Serotonin

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Several lifestyle changes can also contribute to maintaining optimal serotonin levels:

  1. Sunlight Exposure: Sunlight exposure stimulates the production of serotonin. Spending time outdoors and getting natural sunlight can positively impact mood and serotonin levels. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight exposure each day.

  2. Stress Management: Chronic stress can deplete serotonin levels. Incorporating stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and mindfulness can help reduce stress and promote serotonin balance.

  3. Healthy Diet: Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides the necessary nutrients for serotonin synthesis. Additionally, reducing sugar and processed food intake can help maintain stable serotonin levels.

  4. Adequate sleep: Prioritize getting enough sleep as sleep deprivation can negatively affect serotonin levels. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night to support serotonin production and overall well-being.

  5. Regular Exercise: Engaging in physical activity, such as aerobic exercises, can help boost serotonin production. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Why is exercise so powerful?

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Exercise has been found to boost serotonin levels in the human brain due to several interconnected physiological processes:

Increased tryptophan availability

Exercise increases the availability of tryptophan, an amino acid that serves as a precursor to serotonin synthesis. During exercise, tryptophan competes with other amino acids to enter the brain. As tryptophan levels rise relative to other amino acids, more tryptophan crosses the blood-brain barrier, leading to increased serotonin synthesis.

Enhanced serotonin production

Exercise stimulates the release of various neurotransmitters and hormones, including serotonin. The increased metabolic activity and demand for energy during exercise trigger the production and release of serotonin in the brain.

Activation of the hypothalamus

The hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in regulating mood and behavior, plays a role in serotonin release. Exercise activates the hypothalamus, leading to increased serotonin release and subsequent mood elevation.

Reduction in stress hormones

Physical activity has been shown to decrease levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which can inhibit serotonin production. By reducing stress hormone levels, exercise creates an environment conducive to boosting serotonin synthesis.

Improved brain oxygenation

Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. Adequate oxygen supply is crucial for optimal serotonin production. Increased oxygenation promotes the activity of enzymes involved in serotonin synthesis.

Mood-enhancing effects

Exercise is known to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. The release of serotonin during exercise contributes to these positive mood effects, promoting feelings of well-being, relaxation, and happiness.

Regular exercise, especially aerobic activities such as running, swimming, or cycling, has been shown to have long-term benefits for serotonin regulation and mental well-being. However, individual responses to exercise can vary, and it is important to find a physical activity routine that suits your preferences and abilities. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, particularly if you have underlying health conditions.

Supplements that can Increase Serotonin

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Fortunately, there are natural ways to boost serotonin levels and promote mental clarity and emotional well-being. Here are some natural supplements, that may help enhance serotonin production:

  1. Mucuna: Mucuna pruriens, a tropical legume, contains L-Dopa, a precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is converted into serotonin in the brain, making mucuna a potential serotonin booster.

  2. L-Theanine: Found in green tea, L-Theanine has been shown to increase serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels. It promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and improves sleep quality.

  3. Ginseng: This adaptogenic herb may support serotonin production, helping to alleviate stress and enhance mood.

  4. L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP: Both L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP are amino acids that serve as precursors to serotonin synthesis. They can be found in supplement form and may help increase serotonin levels.

  5. Probiotics: The gut-brain connection plays a significant role in serotonin production. Probiotics help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which can positively influence serotonin levels.

  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids support brain health and may contribute to serotonin synthesis.

  7. B Vitamins: Vitamins B6, B9 (folate), and B12 are crucial for serotonin production. Ensuring an adequate intake of these vitamins through diet or supplementation can support serotonin synthesis. Foods rich in B vitamins include leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats.

  8. GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid): GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. While it does not directly increase serotonin levels, it can have a calming effect, indirectly supporting serotonin balance. 

It is important to note that while these supplements may assist in serotonin production, individual responses can vary.

It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplementation regimen, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Can you get too much serotonin?

Yes, it is possible to have excessive levels of serotonin, a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome occurs when there is an excess accumulation of serotonin in the brain, often due to the use of certain medications or dietary supplements, that increase serotonin levels or interact with serotonin pathways.

Serotonin syndrome can be a potentially life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention. Some common causes of serotonin syndrome include:

  1. Combining certain medications: Taking multiple medications that increase serotonin levels, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), or triptans used for migraines, can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.

  2. Too high of an intake of serotonin-boosting supplements: Taking excessive amounts of supplements that increase serotonin levels, especially 5-HTP or L-tryptophan, can contribute to serotonin syndrome.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include:

  • Agitation and restlessness

  • Confusion and disorientation

  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure

  • Dilated pupils

  • Sweating

  • Tremors and muscle twitching

  • Shivering and goosebumps

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

  • Headache

In severe cases, serotonin syndrome can lead to seizures, high fever, and loss of consciousness.

If you suspect serotonin syndrome or experience any of these symptoms after starting a new medication or supplement regimen, seek immediate medical attention.

To prevent serotonin syndrome, it is crucial to follow proper dosing guidelines and inform your healthcare professional about all medications and supplements you are taking. They can assess potential interactions and adjust your treatment plan accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Serotonin plays a vital role in regulating mood, sleep, and overall well-being. A deficiency in serotonin can contribute to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

While medications are available to address serotonin imbalances, natural approaches, including supplements and lifestyle changes, can also support optimal serotonin production.

Incorporating serotonin-enhancing supplements like mucuna, L-theanine, ginseng, L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and GABA, along with regular exercise, sunlight exposure, stress management, and a healthy diet, can contribute to improved mental and emotional well-being.

Gathering the various supplement ingredients up individually and getting the dosing right can be a challenge, thats why we created our gummy Mojo.  Our team reverse-engineered a proprietary blend of functional mushrooms, herbs, adaptogens and roots that boosts mood, energy, concentration and cognitive health.

They contain ingredients proven to help with serotonin and dopamine levels in, including L-theanine, Mucuna Pruriens, and Ginseng.

Backed by numerous studies, they taste great, are vegan, gluten-free, and naturally flavored.

Mojo recently won the product of the year at the Microdose awards, and have been featured in Vice, Cool Hunting, Business Insider and Forbes. 

Over 1 million gummies sold in the U.S since our launch in 2021 - we're proud to help our community think more clearly, be more productive and feel more connected.

If you want to try Mojo, you can use the following code for 15% off: WELCOME15

By adopting a comprehensive approach that combines medical interventions and natural strategies, you can work towards restoring serotonin balance and promoting their well-being.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it aligns with your specific needs and health status.

By Mojo Microdose
September 06, 2023

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