What are the Best OTC Supplements to Boost Serotonin?

Serotonin is an organic compound found in the brain, blood serum and gastric mucous membranes. In the brain it acts as a neurotransmitter.

What are Neurotransmitters?


Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that relay messages via neurons. They have two kinds: inhibitory and excitatory. Excitatory neurons stimulate the brain while inhibitory neurons calm the brain. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

What is the function of serotonin to the human body?

Serotonin has been implicated in many different aspects of brain function which include but are not limited to: control of perception, cognition, sleep, appetite, pain and mood.

Experts aren’t entirely sure how serotonin works in many of these suspected pathways, but they know that serotonin plays an important role in the human body.

If the experts aren’t sure how serotonin works, how will I know that it’s helping me?

The short answer is, you won’t. If you have decided to take a serotonin supplement to boost your levels for a particular reason, your best bet at discovering whether or not it was worth it is to monitor your reasons for taking it.

Serotonin acts as an inhibitor of pain. If you are attempting to boost your serotonin levels to ease your pain, simply take note of any changes that you observe. If you see an improvement, you are on the right track. If you don’t see any changes, consider changing your strategy.

Ok, I want to give it a try. Can I purchase exogenous serotonin?

No, you can’t. The molecule serotonin cannot cross the blood brain barrier.

Whatever serotonin is used by the brain is made by the brain.

So, to improve the levels of serotonin in your brain, you will have to take a supplement that crosses into the brain and influences the production of serotonin.

What supplements can I purchase and where can I get them?


1. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin so taking tryptophan supplements will boost your serotonin levels. You can purchase tryptophan supplements at nootropics 

2. 5-HTP

5-HTP, which stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan, can be used to raise your levels of serotonin.

However, it is critical to note that though studies were done to try to ascertain the effect of 5-HTP on raising serotonin levels for the treatment of depression, the results were not sufficient to conclude that it helped definitively.

Also, because of the negative side effects, it is not recommended for long term use.

3. Vitamins

There are also some vitamins that may affect serotonin levels. Some of these are vitamins: vitamin C, vitamin D, B6 and B9. Magnesium and Zinc supplements may also play an important role. These can be purchased in almost any Walmart, Target, Walgreens or CVS that has a section on vitamins.

Because tryptophan and 5-HTP may affect each person differently, vitamins may be the way to go for many.

In terms of the best, tryptophan and 5-HTP would work the fastest.

You mentioned side effects, what should I expect?

If you’re taking tryptophan watch out for: agitation, confusion, diarrhea, fever, overactive reflexes, poor coordination, restlessness, shivering, sweating, trembling or shaking, twitching or vomiting. These are signs of overdose and if they occur, you should stop tryptophan immediately.

Remember, 5-HTP is not meant for long term use, so if you experience any of these side effects, or you observe that something’s wrongt, stop immediately and contact your doctor.

The side effects are: severe tingling or numbness, skin rash, bruising, fever, muscle pain or weakness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, heartburn, diarrhea or loss of interest in sex.

If you do not experience any of the side effects on the list but are still concerned that something may not be right, contact your doctor.

For the vitamins, you will need to maintain a high index of suspicion for vitamin overdose.

Raising your serotonin levels may also cause negative effects if taken in large dosage. This is what health professionals are worried about the most. It is called serotonin syndrome.

What is serotonin syndrome and how will I know if I have it?

This syndrome occurs when the medicines or supplements you take causes high levels of serotonin to accumulate in your body.

Be on the lookout for: agitation or restlessness, confusion, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure, dilated pupils, loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles, muscle rigidity, heavy sweating, diarrhea, headache, shivering and goosebumps.

In severe cases you may experience: high fever, seizures, irregular heartbeat and unconsciousness.

What else should I need to know?


If you are have been prescribed anti-depressants or are on any prescription drug, consult your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your regimen as drug interactions may occur and affect you negatively.

So, to wrap it all up, there are different ways you can improve your serotonin levels. Choosing the best one that works for you doesn’t have to be difficult.

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask. We understand that you are here because of certain concerns about your health and level of functioning.

So let us know when something is not clear, or if you need clarification on a topic of discussion. We are more than willing to help.


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