6 Ways to Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally

Throughout this article, we will be discussing everything important about the neurotransmitter serotonin. If you have come here because you believe you have low levels of serotonin, then I will discuss beneficial ways of how we can fix your problem. This article will include:

  • What is serotonin?
  • How does a lack of serotonin affect us?
  • How does serotonin work in our bodies and brain?
  • How to increase serotonin levels naturally?

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a natural chemical found throughout the body and brain. It acts as a neurotransmitter where it is responsible for communication between brain cells and other nervous system cells. It is largely found in the digestive tract and also found among blood platelets, in the brain, and in other areas of the central nervous system.

Sunlight - How to Increase Serotonin Levels NaturallySerotonin is produced from the essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is derived from the foods we consume. That is why a healthy diet is essential for efficient levels of tryptophan. A deficiency of tryptophan can lead to low serotonin levels which can be responsible for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety

Serotonin is often referred to as the “happy chemical” or “feel-good chemical” because with high levels of serotonin, mood elevation and overall positive well-being result. Serotonin has a wide variety of impacts associated with both physical and mental health. It’s an essential chemical that helps with eating, sleeping, digesting, controlling blood vessel constriction, bone health, blood clotting, and most importantly the role it plays in giving us a positive mood.

Thus, serotonin also helps with:

  • reducing anxiety
  • reducing depression
  • regulating memory, emotion, social behavior, learning, and libido (sexual desire)

How does a lack of serotonin affect you?

As mentioned above, tryptophan deficiency can be responsible for low levels of serotonin. Serotonin deficiency can have a negative impact on our mood, most commonly resulting in depression. Other impacts that can result from serotonin deficiency are:

  • anxiety and panic disorders
  • eating disorders
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • attention disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorder

Unfortunately, there is no real way to measure the amount of serotonin in the brain. That is why when we believe we are experiencing any of these symptoms or disorders, it is most likely a case of low serotonin levels that need to be adjusted.

There are other symptoms associated with a lack of serotonin that you may be experiencing or heard of such as:

  • easily irritated
  • insomina
  • isolation from family and friends
  • lack of motivation
  • low self-esteem
  • hopelessness
  • suicidal thoughts or tendencies
  • feeling dependent on others
  • digestive problems
  • overeating or undereating
  • headaches/migraines
  • anger
  • poor focus, concentration, and overall cognitive function

How does serotonin work?

Serotonin works to carry signals between nerves, thus regulating the communication between them. Here is a short video that describes the process of serotonin formation and its communication among nerve cells if you are interested in the science behind it.

The most common method in society to increase serotonin levels is the consumption of antidepressants. The most prescribed type of antidepressants are SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) that work to increase serotonin levels in the brain by blocking brain receptors that reabsorb serotonin, thereby leaving more serotonin for our use. Heavy prescribed SSRIs include Celexa, Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft.

Antidepressants are regarded as an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, but are scientifically proven to come with a vast array of side effects that can be even more detrimental to your mental health. Also, antidepressants are habit-forming meaning they can be highly dependable and addicting.

They may also not work for some people at all and for others, the process may be a trial and error where you will have to experiment with different types to see what your best fit is. This process can take months. And according to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people in the world suffer from major depressive disorder, and unfortunately antidepressants only work for 50% of that population.

Therefore, I have included below some beneficial tips how to increase serotonin levels naturally with my number one recommendation.

6 Ways How to Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally

1) Consume 5-HTP (fastest and easiest way)

  • There are natural supplements that solely work to elevate your mood by increasing serotonin levels in the brain much like antidepressants except these are natural. 5-HTP is a very popular one that proves to be successful. 5-HTP enters the brain and is reformed into the natural “happy chemical” serotonin. You do not have to be depressed to take 5-HTP.
  • Read everything you need to know about 5-HTP including 5-HTP uses, benefits, side effects, dosage, and combination with medication.
  • In the above article, I also give my strongest 5-HTP recommendation that works great for me.
  • I take my 5-HTP everyday and have noticed steady mood improvements. 5-HTP is made from pure ingredients and is non-habit forming meaning you will not become addicted to it nor need to depend on it. Dosage depends on the size of capsules but it is generally safe and efficient to consume anywhere between 100-300mg a day. However, much higher doses have been recorded as safe. The bottle I take is 100mg per capsule and I used to take 3 capsules per day (one during each meal). However, over the months my mood has been consistently elevated so I have lowered my doses to two and even one capsule per day. Eventually, you will not need this product to elevate your mood and it is not intended for long-term use (years). After months on it, it is generally advisable to keep lowering your doses (7 capsules/week to 6 capsules/week and so on) until you are not consuming it anymore.
  • Do not abruptly stop your doses. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this natural supplement to boost your serotonin levels naturally. It does work!

2) Consume High Carb & Protein Diet

  • Foods can definitely increase serotonin levels. A diet high in simple carbohydrates can increase insulin levels and therefore allow more tryptophan (the natural precursor to serotonin) to enter the brain. Foods that are high in simple carbohydrates include pastas, bread, potatoes, pastries, baked-goods, and even popcorn. The calming effect of serotonin can be felt in half an hour or less after eating these foods. That is why you may feel a sense of relief and a bit fatigued after eating a nice, fuel-filled meal. An excess amount of carbohydrates can cause high blood sugar levels that over time are associated with cerebral atrophy and dementia.
  • Another good source of serotonin through foods is complex carbohydrates such as carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, apples, corn, green vegetables, and beans and lentils.
  • You can boost serotonin levels in the brain by also eating foods rich in tryptophan since tryptophan is the natural precursor to serotonin. Foods rich in tryptophan include chicken, salmon, turkey, beef, and eggs.
  • Diets with good amounts of carbs and L-tryptophan is a great way to naturally increase your serotonin levels. Read more about healthy foods that can help combat mood disorders such as depression.

3) Exercise

  • Exercise can effectively release healthy neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin. The more frequent you exercise, the more serotonin will be released in your system. Exercise also releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.
  • Some scientific studies have actually explained that exercise may be as equally effective in increasing serotonin levels than antidepressant medication and that exercise may be a better alternative to mood disorders than prescriptions.Exercise - How to Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally
  • How much exercise do you need? Honestly, it doesn’t have to be a full gym workout. It can just be going out for a walk or job. The most important thing is to be consistent with exercise. Walk or jog at least 2 or 3 times a week if you can. If you are already going to the gym frequently, then keep up this routine. Right now, I go to the gym around 3 times a week and don’t plan on stopping. It keeps my mind and body in good shape.
  • Read about the effects of exercise on depression.

4) Get Plenty of Sunlight

  • Sunlight is an easy way to boost serotonin levels. In fact, the brighter the sun, the higher the serotonin synthesis. Lack of sunlight may actually explain why some forms of depression occur in colder months such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depression that erupts during the colder, darker months.
  • Sun exposure can increase cognitive function for everyone according to a scientific study, both healthy subjects and those who suffer from depression.
  • It doesn’t have to be a blistering, hot day to get your sunlight in you. Going out on cloudy, autumn or spring day will expose you to enough natural light to boost serotonin levels compared to sitting in your house with the lights on. It`s a good idea to get your sunlight early in the day to set the mood for you for the rest of the day. Maybe combine some exercise with your sun exposure. Go for a walk around your neighborhood in the morning.

5) Other Natural Supplements/Vitamins

  • I recommended 5-HTP above because it is the quickest natural precursor to serotonin. However, combining natural supplements/vitamins is also a great way to boost serotonin levels. In fact, I take a wide range of vitamins/supplements a day to ensure healthy mood balance. Not to mention, taking vitamins helps largely with your physical health.
  • Read this article on the best supplements to increase serotonin.
  • Some really great vitamins/supplements to take are B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, turmeric, and omega-3 fatty acids to regulate your mood. These are filled with essential micronutrients, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • A study found that those deficient in vitamin B which regulates serotonin synthesis are more prone to develop symptoms of depression.

6) Relaxation

  • One of the biggest and simplest things you can do to increase serotonin levels and regulate your mood is to give yourself a break. Are you always up and at it? Constantly working? Stressed out? Just relax and give yourself some downtime. And most importantly, get a good night’s sleep to allow yourself to be energized and refreshed for the next day.

I hope these tips have helped. We all want the key to happiness. Some of these things you can to boost serotonin levels are a lot simpler than you think. If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to address them.

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Robert Sherwood


  1. The best way to combat depression is knowing more about it. I definitely like your approach and find it very helpful. Instead of taking “medicine” getting the same results with a more natural way is better. I know a few people that are too dependant on antidepressants. It scares me too thinks about it but I am afraid one day I would find them overdosed. I feel I constantly need to monitor what they are doing which makes me sad. I have tried to go with them outside with a lot of effort but how do I get them to take supplements and exercise?

    • Thank you for reaching out and I couldn’t agree more. Natural ways all the way. I find antidepressants don’t cure depression. The depression still exists, just the antidepressants puts a band-aid on it in my opinion. To really dig deep and fight depression, natural remedies are the way to go but you must work at it everyday.

      And yes overdosing is very possible and not to mention the vast array of nasty side effects with antidepressants. I think everyone should give natural remedies a try before resorting to meds. Supplements do work, people just need to give them time and be consistent.

      I would try exercising with them. Drag them along on your workout whatever it may be. As for supplements, they must try this themselves. Supplements can work as well as antidepressants and they need to realize this. Supplements are natural and healthy and there are no long-term or short-term effects.

  2. I’m always on favor of trying natural ways before medication. I have been recommended by my doctor to go directly on antidepressants but im still trying alternatives, meds scare me. So thank you for sharing this great info!

    • Thank you for reaching out Arlet. I find doctors will try to prescribe meds for depression way too easily without considering other alternatives. I would definitely recommend you try natural remedies first such as 5-HTP that works great to increase serotonin levels.

  3. Oh man, I like a rationale for eating more delicious carbs like blueberries and sweet potatoes. I think most people have some amount of challenge with seratonin regulation – there are just too many seratonin drains in our day to day life (screening, no sunlight, long work hours). I need to check out 5-HTP, it seems like one of the better easier ways to improve seratonin deficit. thanks for the great info!

    • Thanks! Yes, check out 5-HTP. It’s my favorite and the easiest way I believe to get your healthy serotonin levels.

  4. What a great article. I really hadn’t thought much about it, but I do believe that I can definitely gain from increasing my serotonin, as I do show some of the symptoms of having low serotonin. I like the quick way of taking 5-HTP. I do get plenty of sunlight as I live in the sunshine state and love the beach 🙂 Thanks for the great information!

  5. I have to agree with Matts Mom, sunlight is helpful to ease my mind, although that can be a challenge sometimes if you work a lot inside. This was super helpful.

  6. This is a very enlightening topic and so easy to understand.

    For me, I boost serotonin by trying to be stress-free, think of solution, rather than overthink  the problem, proper diet and exercise although not regularly, but as much as I can, at least 2x a week.

    I also  love the sunlight and this is the reason why depression is so common during winter months. Thanks for making this clear.


  7. Hi Robert

    Thank you for a very informative article – much appreciated.

    Serotonin is essential for people like me, as I suffer from anxiety and depression.  I had never heard about 5-HTP as a supplement that could help – so you may literally have changed my life…I will be speaking with my doctor about it!

    I must admit that I already notice the benefits of exercise and sunlight on my mood…especially once the exercise is finished!

    I have heard that eating dark green vegetables…such as leafy ones like spinach…can be a big help re mental health.

    Do you have any views on this?

    Thanks again,


    • Hey David. You’re welcome. Glad I could help. 5-HTP has helped for sure subsidize my symptoms. Definitely my favorite natural supplement for depression. As for diet, yes certain foods have specific nutrients that help fight inflammation in the brain. Check out a list of foods for depression I made here. 

  8. I think for so many years people have thought the only way to combat depression was with medication which can have side effects, but do you see a time where the emphasis will be to fix peoples serotonin levels more naturally through supplements rather than other pills in the future? Thanks

    • It definitely all depends. I like to stress to possibly try natural remedies like supplements first before jumping right to meds. Meds can take a very long time to start working and the side effects at first can be absolutely terrible. On the other hand, a lot of people say antidepressants saved them while others have had no luck with them. It is very difficult to treat depression but natural remedies can help for sure like 5-HTP which I take consistently give me that boost I need to not fall deep back into that hole. Nonetheless, treating depression is a rollar coaster.

  9. depression, anxieties and disorders seem to be something that many people struggle with and so I like your approach to find the things we can do to combat this ourselves without going straight down the anti depressants route which can be addictive and hard to move away from. 

    5-htp sounds great, a natural product that you can decrease yourself as your symptoms improve, thanks for sharing this article on such a important subject, i really needed this.

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