What is the difference between Dopamine and Serotonin?
Over the last few weeks we have talked a lot about anxiety and dopamine, but what about serotonin and how do both affect us?
Both of these are neurotransmitters that can play a vital role in depression.
Dopamine is tied to our body’s “pleasure center” within the brain. Our body gets an influx of dopamine when we get excited, happy, or feel as if we are being rewarded. But on the opposite end, when dopamine levels are low it may lead to a lack of happiness and motivation.
Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) on the other hand, acts within our body as an appetite and mood regulator. It does this by transmitting signals between our nerve cells, giving it the ability to alter brain functions. Serotonin is also crucial in ensuring optimal sleep and digestive health as 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut.
Serotonin and Pain
If that wasn’t enough reason to ensure proper serotonin balance in the body, research now shows that there is a direct correlation between postoperative pain levels in patients with chronic low back pain and serum serotonin levels. In another study volunteers who underwent tryptophan therapy experienced a lower pain threshold level as serotonin is a byproduct of tryptophan.
What are some signs of low serotonin levels?
There is a blood test to measure serotonin levels that you can get from your health care professional. The normal serotonin range is 101–283 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
Signs of low serotonin can include:
- Mood changes
- Sleep issues
- Appetite changes
- Chronic pain
- Changes in memory
While not known for certain by researchers what causes a deficiency in serotonin, many believe it may be due to poor diet and lifestyle factors. As well, those who experience long term stress or exposure to toxic substances may be at a greater risk for decreased serotonin levels. Proper sunlight exposure can also play a vital role in ensuring optimal serotonin levels in our body.
What are some natural things you can do to restore serotonin levels?
Gut Health: Knowing that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut, ensuring gut integrity and decreased inflammation is essential. Using a good bone broth supplement such as Bone Broth IQ which also includes turmeric root can ensure optimal gut health and serotonin production.
Optimal Sleep: for people with low levels, serotonin supplements, usually in the form of tryptophan or 5-HTP, may help to improve the deficiency. Sleep IQ includes 5-HTP, as well as L-dopa to support optimal dopamine levels in the body to restore the optimal balance between serotonin and dopamine.
There are many factors to ensure optimal serotonin levels within our body. Exercising, proper sunlight exposure and a healthy diet will be key along with supplementation. Most importantly, the quality of your day is determined by the quality of sleep the night before, so ensuring a good night’s sleep is essential to optimal serotonin levels.