If you’re familiar with mood enhancing supplements, then you’re probably aware of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter known as serotonin. There’s no doubt that this brain chemical influences our mood, however, it also plays a key role in appetite and weight loss.
There are serotonin pills on the market, targeting weight loss for those who have been struggling to shed those extra pounds. Do these pills work? If you have been trying to lose weight, you know that it is a challenging and sometimes overwhelming task. Based on reports from the Center for Disease Control, more than one-third of adults in the United States are considered to be obese.
That means that millions are combatting their weight which is directly threatening their health. Why is it so challenging to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight? What can be done to make the weight loss journey easier? In many cases, the inability to control one’s appetite plays a major role in being overweight.
In this regard, serotonin pills could help target this aspect of one’s weight loss efforts. When following a healthier lifestyle, focusing on a more balanced diet and exercise, taking serotonin supplements have been shown to boost serotonin levels, promoting weight loss.
Obesity and Serotonin Diet Pills
Obesity is currently an epidemic, threatening the health of millions and costing the United States billions of dollars each year. In 2008, the annual cost of obesity was nearly $150 billions dollars, as individuals who are obese experience medical costs that were $1400 more than the average person.
Based on research over the past decade, factors relating to appetite have been shown to influence one’s level of success when aiming to lose weight. Due to this research, supplements which boost serotonin levels may help reduce appetite and better control hunger cravings.
Your appetite is controlled by a number of chemicals, including ghrelin and leptin, as well as hormones that stimulate the vagus nerve. One of the key chemicals that influences appetite is, of course, serotonin. This brain chemical is both a neurotransmitter and hormone, which signals how much food is available.
When food is available and we’re able to consume carbs and other sources of glucose, serotonin levels are enhanced. When food becomes more scarce, serotonin levels dip and we begin to crave energy-dense food sources. By taking serotonin energy pills, you’re able to trick your brain into thinking that you need less food in order to lose weight.
How Does Serotonin Pills Work?
Serotonin is produced in the pineal gland, known as the feel-good hormone. It is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan which is first converted into 5-HTP, then converted into serotonin. This neurotransmitter not only controls appetite, but also mood, sleep cycles, and bladder function.
Those who exhibit low serotonin levels, often manifest symptoms such as depression, anxiety, impaired judgement, weakness, irritability, compulsive behavior, bipolar disorder, and weight gain. This is especially apparent within the winter months, as more than 25 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This lingering type of depression affects more women than men and is caused by low levels of serotonin.
How Serotonin Levels Influence Food Cravings
When experiencing low levels of serotonin, issues with weight gain occur. Research shows that when serotonin levels are low, the body craves foods that are high in carbohydrates. Neuron function and the amount of serotonin released, is highly dependent on food intake. Greater carbohydrate consumption causes a release in serotonin.
Although serotonin precursors, such as tryptophan, are high in protein-rich foods, eating protein does not trigger the same release. It’s believed that this may be due to the amino acids found in protein, which compete with tryptophan in order to access the blood-brain barrier.
We all understand the basic relationship between food and mood, right? That is why ice cream is often associated with a break-up and everyone tends to have their personal favourite when they feel emotionally low. Although these foods temporarily improve mood and energy levels, individuals often experience a period where they crash, experiencing low energy levels and increased irritability.
This irritability and poor mood may be due to one’s desire to consume more carbohydrate-rich foods. Using carbohydrates as a mood-booster is a concern regarding obesity and weight gain. Those who emotionally eat, are at a great risk for both weight issues and overall health complications.
When giving into these urges, individuals may experience increased symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, weight gain, and reduce appetite control. When taking a serotonin supplement, you can essentially reduce cravings and maintain stable neurotransmitter levels. Based on the effects of serotonin diet pills, users not only achieve greater dieting success, but they also experience improved mood.
How Serotonin Influences Appetite
While focusing on appetite, serotonin levels can dramatically influence behavior. This chemical is what’s known as nature’s appetite suppressant, regulating digestive functioning. It also controls muscle contractions relating to food within our intestines. When serotonin levels are high, appetite signalling is suppressed, curbing cravings and creating the satisfaction of being full.
When you experience a feeling of satiety, you tend to eat less and in turn, lose weight. Many individuals are now taking advantage of serotonin diet pills, reporting that they eat less without much effort. Throughout various research studies, individuals who were given serotonin naturally consumed fewer calories throughout the day.
When calorie consumption dips, weight loss is the result. Research trials have confirmed serotonin’s ability to reduce appetite and promote effective and safe weight loss. In one specific study, obese individuals were given 900 mg 5-HTP pills, over the course of 12 weeks. One group was told to not make any changes to their diet, while the second group was put on a strict calorie restriction.
At the end of the study period, both groups lost weight. The first group lost an average of 1.7 kg and the second lost an average of 3.3 kg. This clearly shows that serotonin diet pills can help users lose weight, without making serious changes to their diet.
It also showed, that when taking serotonin pills and making lifestyle changes, you can significantly increase the amount of weight you lose. To naturally boost levels, you can also reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine, avoid smoking, manage stress levels, increase your sun exposure, exercise regularly, and consume a nutrient-rich diet.
Our brains are highly complex, which requires a high level of functionality. In order to function at an optimal level, our brains require balanced levels of neurotransmitters. These brain chemicals, send messages, which allow us to perform tasks, feel emotion, and even learn.
When there is an imbalance in these key neurotransmitters, it can affect the ways in which we think, feel, and behave. One of these critical neurotransmitters is serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and stress. When serotonin levels are low, it can create feelings of anxiety and depression. It is also associated with alcoholism, impulse control, and aggression.
A Serotonin Deficiency
Serotonin is not only found in the brain, as it can be found within the bloodstream and the digestive tract. It is most commonly found in the brain however, where it is said to interact with more than 40 million brain cells (either directly or indirectly).
In terms of nutrition, deficiencies are not unheard of. In fact, there are many deficiencies that can affect one’s health. However, when focusing on a deficiency of this magnitude, the effects can be severe. Not only can your mental health be severely affected, but it can create other complications as well.
Our brain and physical body are not independent of one another. Since serotonin influences so many areas of the brain, it has effects on our pain reception, muscle function, cardiovascular health, memory, and ability to sleep.
How to Spot the Signs of a Serotonin Deficiency
When you can effectively spot the symptoms of a deficiency, you can quickly work towards a more balanced, healthy state. There are various risk factors associated with a serotonin deficiency. Once a deficiency occurs, it can create numerous chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia or migraines.
When serotonin levels are low, it can cause the blood vessels to dilate, lowering one’s threshold for pain. In turn, this can create severe headaches. Not everyone experiences pain, as there are an assortment of possible symptoms, including; depression, lack of impulse control, loss of appetite, problems sleeping, feelings of guilt, negative thoughts, fatigue, low self-esteem, confusion, anxiety, and more.
Other conditions may also be linked to low serotonin levels, such as alcoholism, anorexia, addiction, panic attacks, or compulsive behavior. Some also report losing interest in their friends, family, and life in general. Although mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety can have many contributing factors, low serotonin levels are typically seen.
What Causes Serotonin Deficiencies?
Diet influences our brain chemistry, especially when we do not consume enough tryptophan. This amino acid is a precursor to serotonin, making it an essential compound. This means that our bodies cannot produce it, so it needs to be consumed within our diet. When you do not follow a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, deficiencies are bound to occur.
Also, if you consume high concentrations of pop, coffee, or tea, you could actually worsen the problem. This effect is due to the levels of caffeine in these drinks. When you consume caffeine, our bodies release serotonin, increasing concentrations within the central nervous system. This can lead to potential desensitization, or a depletion in serotonin levels.
A depletion in neurotransmitters, is typically linked to a lack of precursors. When we consume protein, we obtain amino acids, which aids in the production of numerous neurotransmitters. A classic example is breast milk, as it is high in tryptophan. It has been found that babies who are raised on formula (which does not contain tryptophan), may be more prone to develop a serotonin deficiency as an adult.
There are also a number of cofactors, which play a vital role in serotonin production. Various vitamins and minerals, are needed in order to achieve stable serotonin levels. For example, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and B vitamins, are all needed in order to increase successful production.
In relation to vitamin D, serotonin is a light-sensitive process. Seasonal affective disorder, is now being recognized as a condition occurring throughout the winter months. The winter season brings shorter, darker days. Since we obtain vitamin D from the sun, serotonin production can decrease, leading to depression-like symptoms. The ‘winter blues,’ may have some truth to it after all.
How to Correct a Serotonin Deficiency
If you think that you’re currently being affected by a serotonin deficiency, there are steps you can take naturally. Of course, the first place to start is your diet. A well balanced, protein-rich diet, can help target this deficiency, while improving your overall health.
Vegans are typically serotonin deficient, because they lack enough protein in their diet. If you are are a vegan or vegetarian, ensure that you are getting enough protein through sources like nuts (or dairy for vegetarians). Tofu is also an excellent source of protein.
However, if you are still not getting enough protein in your diet, supplementation is another option. When you take 5-HTP or L-tryptophan, you can help boost this production process. Another natural way to boost neurotransmitter levels, is through exercise.
When you exercise, your muscles utilize the amino acids from your blood. Tryptophan is then left, free to cross the blood-brain barrier. Once it reaches our pineal gland, the production of serotonin occurs. Have you ever gone for a brisk walk, and found that it lifted your mood? This is one of the key reasons why.
Some are also interested in the effects of light-therapy. For those that are prone to seasonal affective disorder, this may be a beneficial option. When exposed to light-therapy, many affected individuals have positively responded in terms of their mood and behavior. Not only do you have the option to go outside and take in some fresh air; but you can also sit in front of a light box for several minutes daily.
Which Supplements Target Serotonin Deficiency?
If you have already made lifestyle changes with little results, then you may benefit from supplementation instead. Although tryptophan is found in various foods, there are tryptophan supplements that are specifically designed to target stress and mood.
Since supplementation increases tryptophan levels, it is more effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier. Since tryptophan is considered to be a hypnotic, many countries require individuals to obtain a prescription. However, within the United States, you can purchase over-the-counter tryptophan supplements. These are typically purchased online or within health food stores.
Another option is 5-HTP, which helps to breakdown tryptophan. Not only does 5-HTP influence serotonin levels, but it also has an effect on melatonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals influence our mood, our ability to manage pain, and sleep.
Many prefer 5-HTP supplements over tryptophan supplements, simply because it tends to have a greater effect. Unlike tryptophan, 5-HTP is not affected by other amino acids. Therefore, it works faster, while increasing higher levels of serotonin.
If lifestyle changes have not helped, speak with your health care professional regarding appropriate supplements. They will instruct you regarding specific doses and potential side-effects. You also need to disclose the medications you’re currently taking, just in case of a possible interaction.