Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter. It also acts as a hormone. Serotonin is a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain and throughout your body. Serotonin level that is too high or too low can cause physical and psychological health.
Serotonin plays various roles in your body, influencing learning, memory, happiness, and also regulating body temperature, sleep, and hunger. It also plays a role in regulating your mood. Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. It can't be made by your body; it has to be obtained from the foods you eat such as meat, dairy products, eggs, and nuts.
Functions of serotonin:
Digestion: Most of your body's serotonin is present in your GI tract where it protects your gut and helps control your bowel movement. Serotonin helps in smooth digestion.
Sleep: Serotonin and dopamine together influence the quality of your sleep.
Blood clotting: Platelets release serotonin to help stop bleeding and heal wounds when your body needs to repair the damage.
Mood: Serotonin helps regulate your mood. Normal level of serotonin makes you stay calm and happy. Low levels of serotonin mean depression and anxiety.
Nausea: when serotonin is released in your gut faster than it should be which triggers nausea.
Problems associated with low serotonin levels:
- Digestive problems
- Suicidal behavior
- Panic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
How to increase serotonin levels?
- Eating more tryptophan-containing foods.
- Getting more sunlight.
- Taking certain supplements.
- Getting more exercise
Serotonin syndrome occurs when serotonin levels increase too much. Usually, Serotonin levels increases if you increase the dose of a medication known to increase serotonin levels. Shivering, heavy sweating, confusion, restlessness, high blood pressure, and diarrhea are the mild symptoms of serotonin syndrome. High fever, seizures, fainting and abnormal heartbeat are the severe symptoms.