How to Increase Serotonin Using Serotonin Supplements and Boost your Mood

The Best Serotonin Supplements to Boost your Mood

A serotonin deficiency can cause a person to feel sad, depressed, irritable, have higher anxiety levels, and also suffer from sleepless nights. Serotonin deficiencies can be treated using natural serotonin supplements which boost levels of this “happy neurotransmitter” in the brain causing a person to feel more positive, happier, confident, and sleep better.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain which transmits signals from one part of the brain to another. Researchers have found that serotonin imbalances can affect mood and lead to depression, anxiety, panic and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neuroscientist, Dr. Barry Jacobs on WebMD says that low serotonin levels can affect the regeneration of brain cells which can lead to depression. When serotonin levels are boosted, new brain cells are formed which can help lift depression.1

According to a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, low serotonin levels affect men and women differently. It found that abnormal serotonin function may be the reason why more women suffer from depression than men. When serotonin levels dropped in men, they seemed to become more impulsive whereas women experienced a drop in mood and other symptoms of depression.2

What are Serotonin Supplements?

Low serotonin levels in the brain can be boosted by taking natural serotonin supplements that increase amino acids which the brain needs to produce serotonin. Many studies have shown that serotonin deficiencies can be treated by supplements like 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, SAM-e, and even green tea and turmeric.

There are no ways to measure the levels of serotonin in the brain and too much serotonin in the brain can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome. Some of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome are agitation, confusion, twitching muscles, headaches, and muscle rigidity.3 Therefore, before taking any supplements to treat depression, anxiety, or insomnia you should speak with your doctor. This is important because natural supplements can also interfere with other medications.

Let’s look at the scientific evidence about the best supplements that increase serotonin and help to treat the symptoms of low serotonin like depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

The Best Supplements to Boost Serotonin Levels


The body converts the amino acid tryptophan into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which is then converted into serotonin. 5-HTP supplements have been shown to raise serotonin levels and thus regulate mood and behavior.

Studies have shown that 5-HTP can help people with mild to moderate depression. This is because 5-HTP is easily converted into serotonin in the brain and therefore increases serotonin. It is believed that 5-HTP is effective in treating patients who have stopped responding to traditional antidepressants.4

Research into the effects of 5-HTP supplements on people with depression has shown that they are just as effective as fluoxetine, a common antidepressant which is commonly known as Prozac.5

WebMD says that studies have shown that doses increasing from 150 mg daily up to 400 mg daily for 4 weeks have been used for treating depression.6

There are some side effects with 5-HTP. Research reported in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment showed that long-term use over many months may lead to a dopamine deficiency and no longer be effective.4 It is also not recommended to take 5-HTP if you are already taking antidepressants.


The essential amino acid L-tryptophan is described as a serotonin precursor because the body needs it to produce serotonin.

Scientists have carried out research into using L-tryptophan supplements to increase serotonin level and found them to be effective especially in treating women with depression. Over the 14-day period of the study, the women who took 1 g L-tryptophan 3 times a day were observed to be in a better emotional state than those who took a placebo. They concluded that L-tryptophan supplement is effective in treating and preventing mild depression.7


SAM-e supplements are effective at treating the symptoms of low serotonin levels because they naturally boost serotonin in the body. S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe for short) is a compound which is needed for healthy brain function and research has shown that it is a safe natural supplement for treating serotonin deficiency.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that clinical trials into SAM-e show that it is just as effective as some antidepressants but without any adverse side effects.8 The report said that SAM-e can treat symptoms of major depression and is effective in people who don’t respond well to antidepressants. In fact, it is approved by the FDA as a supplement with health and medical benefits.9 It can also be taken alongside conventional antidepressants to enhance their effectiveness.

As with other antidepressants, it is not advised that people with bipolar disorder take SAM-e.

SAM-e can also help to naturally boost dopamine levels, as low dopamine levels are also connected with anxiety and depression.

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends to start with a low dose of SAM-e (for example, 200 mg per day) and increase it slowly to help avoid stomach upset. For treating depression it recommends dosage of 800 to 1,600 mg of SAMe per day, in 2 divided doses (morning and afternoon).

St John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is an ancient, but effective natural remedy to treat depression because it helps the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine to increase in the brain.

Although there are some conflicting reports, studies do show that St. John’s Wort can be effective in treating mild to moderate depression.10 It is also a great natural remedy to treat stress and anxiety.

Standardized St. John’s wort extracts are generally available over the counter in tablet, capsule form, liquid extract or herbal tea. or you can also prepare an infusion using the flowering tops: pour boiling water over the flowers, and leave to steep until cool enough to drink. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried St. John’s wort herb for each cup of water.

WebMD reports that St. John’s wort has some side effects if taken in large doses and may interact with many drugs, so you need to let your doctor know if you want to take St. John’s wort.

The University of Maryland Medical Center advises that the usual dose of  St. John’s wort dry herb (in capsules or tablets) for mild depression and mood disorders is 300 mg (standardized to 0.3% hypericin extract), 3 times per day, with meals, and it may take several weeks to feel any effects from St. John’s wort.

Green Tea

Green tea is a natural supplement that can increase serotonin levels because it contains the amino acid L-theanine. Clinical trials have shown that green tea affects neurotransmitters in the brain, including an increase of serotonin and dopamine.11

One study into the effects of green tea on elderly people showed that those who frequently consumed green tea showed fewer signs of depression than others.12 The study found that drinking between 2 and 5 cups of green tea a day can help alleviate feelings of depression because it helps to balance serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain.

If caffeine is an issue for you, you can also buy decaffeinated green tea capsules supplements.


Most people generally associate probiotics with keeping a healthy digestive system. However, because 95% of the body’s serotonin levels are produced in the gut, probiotics can help to maintain proper levels of serotonin. If you don’t regularly eat fermented foods then taking probiotic supplements can help you to increase serotonin levels.

In the journal American Psychological Association, psychologist Dr. Siri Carpenter reported on studies into the connection between our mind and gut. She said that the serotonin in the gut influences both mood and digestive activity. In clinical trials, it was observed that when the good bacteria in the guts of mice were lowered, they became more anxious. However, when they received probiotics their anxiety levels lowered.13

Turmeric (curcumin)

Turmeric contains the compound curcumin which can help to treat depression and reduce anxiety by boosting serotonin levels. Curcumin is also one of the best supplements for increasing dopamine levels.

Clinical studies have shown that curcumin has an antidepressant effect and can increase serotonin and dopamine levels. It was also shown that curcumin supplement can also increase the effect of antidepressants like fluoxetine, venlafaxine, or bupropion.14

It’s important that any curcumin supplement you take to increase serotonin levels naturally also contains piperine or black pepper extract to increase turmeric absorption. The above study concluded that taking curcumin with piperine is a potent natural antidepressant that can help manage depression.14

One study reported that taking 500 mg of curcumin twice daily for 8 weeks helped patients to see signs of improvement in their mood disorders.15

Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Serotonin Levels

Taking vitamins and minerals is a great way to boost serotonin levels because they help the mind to function well and they contain antioxidants to help kill free radicals. The best vitamins to help combat serotonin deficiency are B-group vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin D. Magnesium is helpful in treating depression because it increases levels of serotonin.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) and B12

It has been found that many people with depression have a folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency. A study published in 2005 into the effect of B-group vitamins and depression suggested that folic acid (800 mg) and vitamin B12 (1 mg) can be helpful to reduce symptoms of depression.16

Vitamin C

A small study in India found that there was a significant difference in levels of vitamin C among patients suffering from depression and those who had no mood disorders. Vitamin C is essential for 5-HTP to form in the brain and therefore vitamin C supplements can increase serotonin levels naturally and help reduce the symptoms of depression.17

Because vitamin C is a natural antioxidant, there is the added bonus that you will feel healthier and be less prone to picking up infections.

Vitamin D and omega-3

Serotonin deficiency can be caused by a lack of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Scientists have found that both vitamin D and fatty acids are essential for serotonin to be produced. They recommend that people optimize their intake of vitamin D and omega-3 to reduce the symptoms associated with a serotonin deficiency.18

Fish like herring, salmon and mackerel contain high levels of omega-3.  If you don’t consume these fish, you may benefit from omega-3 supplementation — in the form of fish oil or krill oil that can help you increase your serotonin levels.

If you spend most of your time indoors, vitamin D supplementation is a must.


The University of Maryland reports that a lack of magnesium can cause imbalances in serotonin levels and lead to depression.19 Studies into the effects of magnesium supplements have found that they can help to treat depression, reduce anxiety and help deal with insomnia.20

The study said that taking magnesium 125mg – 300mg 4 times a day – before mealtimes and before going to bed has helped reduce the symptoms of depression.

Serotonin deficiency isn’t the only cause of mood disorders. The neurotransmitter dopamine also plays an important role in a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Finding out about the underlying reasons for anxiety disorders, depression, and mood disorders can help you find effective natural treatments for these causes.

Related articles:
1. Dopamine Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions
2. Dopamine Supplements to Boost Mood Naturally
3. The Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Naturally
4. The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood
5. Quick and Natural Ways to Boost Your Mood

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Healthy and Natural World