Tryptophan rich foods- the feel good factor!

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for transmitting signals between neurons.  Serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating mood and behaviour.  Low levels of serotonin in the body are associated with depression and anxiety.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid or a building block of protein required as a precursor to making serotonin the feel good factor in the brain.

Tryptophan is found in protein-rich foods, such as turkey, chicken, fish, soy products, milk, a variety of cheeses, yogurt, eggs, nuts and beans.  Whilst its not advisable to have too much dairy, natural yogurt and cottage cheese make good choices.

Tryptophan works best when consumed in conjunction with a small amount of carbohydrate, such as a scoop of brown rice, oats (oat cakes and cottage cheese make a great serotonin boosting snack!).  These complex carbohydrates are essential to helping your brain properly process the tryptophan into protein.  Vegetables are also good.

Hormonal processes require essential fatty acids for metabolism.  Eating raw nuts and seeds and their oils, oily fish -wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and tuna increase your essential fatty acids and brain function.

B Vitamins

The B-complex vitamins are necessary for a number of functions throughout the body, including protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism.  Niacin B3 is an important component in the production of tryptophan.  Vitamin B12 and folic acid are necessary for the metabolism of neurotransmitters, thereby boosting serotonin levels.  These vitamins are associated with improved mood and cognitive function.  Thiamine is one of the most important vitamins known to improve serotonin function.  Increasing thiamine intake can lead to a positive mood and improved sense of well-being.  B vitamins are found primarily in dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, fish, poultry, beans, meat, and nuts.

Vitamin D

Serotonin is a natural stimulant, enhancing your mood and increasing your energy.  Melatonin, an essential neurotransmitter created from serotonin, regulates your sleep cycle.  Sunlight, which contains vitamin D, helps your body to burn off melatonin, allowing your serotonin levels to rise.  Without exposure to natural light, your melatonin levels would be higher, suppressing your serotonin levels.  Adequate sunlight exposure requires being in the sun for at least two hours throughout the day.