Do you notice your cravings for sugar, wine, bread, pasta, pastry and other carbohydrates are increasing lately? This could be a sign of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often referred to as our “happy hormone”, our “inner sunshine” and “embodied light.” As our natural light has been waning this past month leaving us with shorter days and longer nights, you may be noticing a drop in mood and an increase in carbs. If your cravings are strong, especially in the later afternoon and evening when serotonin naturally drops, you could be fighting an uphill battle to stay on path with your great nutritional intentions. The lower your serotonin, the stronger your cravings will be.
When serotonin becomes depleted, especially during fall and winter with inadequate natural light and sunshine, we can become what Julia Ross calls in the Cravings Cure, “depressed cravers.” Meaning, we crave foods,like sugars, starches as well as alcohol and drugs that naturally boost serotonin. The problem is this elevation in mood is temporary and fleeting, often leaving us with erratic blood sugars, further fueling our cravings and overtime other symptoms such as weight gain, insomnia, hormone imbalance, mood swings and more.
Serotonin is produced by tryptophan, an amino acid, predominantly found in animal protein such as poultry (especially turkey), game meat, grass-fed beef and organ meats. The conversion of this amino acid also requires important nutrient cofactors such as B Vitamins and zinc to name a few, so if those are deficient, the amount of tryptophan actually produced could be suboptimal. Tryoptphan helps to prouce serotonin in the day and melotonin at night. If that producation and conversion is not happenging then it is common to feel more gloom and cravings in the day and cravings and poor sleep at night.
Other Factors that Reduce Serotonin
If your serotonin is sufficient you would likely feel positive, uplifted and have a sunny outlook, even in the winter. You would feel self confident and have courage, emotional flexibility and resourcefulness. You experience deep restful sleep and a normal appetite, free of cravings. If you dont experiene these things you may need a serotonin boost.
Serotonin Deficiency Symptoms:
If you resonate with even a handful of these symptoms, you could potentially need a serotonin boost. There are many natural options that can help us to do that such as 5HTP, tryptophan, SAMe and St John’s Wort, to name a few. A boost in tryptohan and other cofactors in your diet will also be essential. The key is to know which one is right for YOU and at what amount and what times to take these neural nutrients. Not everybody responds the same and it is important to know if you have the co-factors and other nuances such as high cortisol which can determine what serotonin booster would be better for you to try.
Important note, if you are taking medications such as SSRIsand SNRIs, it is also imperative that you do not to just try any supplement. If you overproduce serotonin, you can cause Serotonin Syndrome which creates serious symptoms such as hypertension, dizziness confusion, rapid heartbeat, clumsiness and more. It is essential that you work with a knowledgeable practitioner as well as your prescribing physician before trialing any natural serotonin boosts.
If you think you may have a serotonin deficiency and you would like to work with me, I can help. Please book a consult so you can elevate your mood, reduce your cravings, and turn on your inner glow. Your cravings have nothing to do with willpower, but may have alot to do with serotonin!
Yours in health & vitality,