Does working out boost serotonin?

serotonin food

What is serotonin?

Time needed: 5 minutes.

  1. What is serotonin?

    Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) produced within the central nervous system (CNS) that contributes to feelings of happiness.

  2. Consequences of serotonin deficiency?

    Too little serotonin has shown associations with depressed feelings, sadness, and fatigue. Too much serotonin, however, could result in serotonin syndrome, which could lead to symptoms of restlessness, hallucinations, and confusion.

  3. Where serotonin is found in the body?

    Serotonin is also known as a hormone within the enteric nervous system of the body, primarily found within the gastrointestinal tract (gut).

  4. What is the role of serotonin in the body?

    In the enteric nervous system, serotonin plays a role in numerous biological processes such as controlling cardiovascular function, bladder control, and bowel movements.
    Serotonin in the brain, however, is of interest to psychologists as its role as a neurotransmitter is thought to contribute to many important functions such as playing a role in mood, especially in relation to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

What has happened with serotonin during exercise?



Rodent studies indicate that acute exercise increases serotonin and its metabolites in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, striatum, and midbrain [212–214] (Fig. 1C). One study in rats that utilized a protocol of 60 minutes of treadmill running at 20 m/min showed no increase in hippocampal serotonin, a protocol that increased dopamine levels [181]. Discrepancies like this have been found in other studies [197], perhaps indicating that a certain level of exercise may be needed to increase central serotonergic levels. Serotonin has been implicated in the anti-depressant and anxiolytic action of exercise, with chronic exercise being just as effective as anti-depressant treatment in humans [215]. A recent study in rodents examined the involvement of serotonergic neurons in acute exercise-induced changes in depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors [216]. Compared to sedentary controls, rats that engaged in low-intensity exercise (15 m/min for 30 min) showed increased c-Fos expression in the serotonergic neurons of the dorsal raphe nucleus. High-intensity exercise (25 m/min for 30 min), on the other hand, induced c-Fos expression in the corticotropin-releasing factor neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, an area involved in the body’s response to stress, an indication that this exercise protocol may have been a stressful experience. Additionally, compared to high-intensity runners, low-intensity runners showed significant decreases in both depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors. The authors suggest that these findings indicate that low-intensity acute exercise may be the best workout to stimulate serotonergic activity and enhance mood states.

Serotonin has also been implicated in the beneficial effects of acute exercise on cognition. Healthy, young adults (ages 18 to 35) were randomly assigned to either a sedentary, control group (myofascial release training), or a low- (45–50% MHR), moderate- (65–70% MHR), or high-intensity (85–90% MHR) exercise group [217]. Each exercise group started with a 5-minute warmup and then cycled for 30 minutes at their designated heart rate. Before and after the acute intervention, subjects had their blood drawn for analysis of serum serotonin and performed the Stroop task, a test of attention and response inhibition that is dependent on the prefrontal cortex. Acute exercise significantly increased plasma serotonin, with a positive linear correlation found between serotonin concentration and exercise intensity. Additionally, acute exercise improved performance on the Stroop task; individuals with the largest enhancements in response inhibition showed the greatest increases in serotonin.

Additionally, acute exercise-induced changes in serotonin (and dopamine) are thought to contribute to central fatigue. During prolonged exercise, the physical fatigue that sets in is thought to be a result of both peripheral (including depletion of muscle glycogen, decreased plasma glucose, and increased plasma free fatty acids) and central mechanisms. One study in rodents sought to determine the neurotransmitter changes that occur in response to exercising to the point of fatigue [218]. After rest, one hour, or three hours (fatigue condition) of treadmill running, hippocampal, striatal, midbrain, and hypothalamic levels of serotonin, dopamine, and their primary metabolites were assessed. Over the course of running to exhaustion, serotonin and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) continued to increase; however, dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) increased at the one-hour time-point, these levels returned to baseline after three hours. Additionally, studies have shown that decreasing serotonergic activity through intraperitoneal (IP) administration of a serotonergic antagonist increases the amount of time that rodents can run before they reach the point of exhaustion [219]. Conversely, IP administration of a serotonergic agonist decreases the run time to exhaustion. As serotonin regulates mood, emotion, sleep, and appetite, and dopamine regulates motivation memory, reward, and attention, the central fatigue hypothesis claims that the interaction between these two neurotransmitters contributes to exercise-induced fatigue, with high serotonin to dopamine ratio supporting a low activity, exhausted state and a low ratio supporting a high activity, activated state [220, 221].

The article is taken from this link.

Which foods support serotonin production?

Supplements can increase your serotonin levels via the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan. A natural approach to possibly increase your serotonin levels is eating foods that contanin tryptophan.

 Serotonin isn’t found in foods, but tryptophan is. You can find many foods that contain tryptophan, here we list seven foods that might help increase your serotonin levels:

1. Eggs: They are extremely rich in both tryptophan and tyrosine which are major contributors to the antioxidant properties of eggs.

2. Cheese: Cheese is another great source of tryptophan as well as a great source of bone-healthy calcium.

3. Fruit: Pineapples, apples, and bananas offer a rich source of fiber and tryptophan.

4. Tofu: Soy products are rich sources of tryptophan.

5. Fish: Salmon and tuna are high in tryptophan.

6. Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds provide the highest dose of tryptophan.

7. Turkey: Turkey may well be the most well-known dietary source of tryptophan, but all animal proteins contain some amino acids.

Foods high in protein, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 all tend to contain large amounts of tryptophan. While high-tryptophan foods won’t boost serotonin on their own, there’s one possible cheat to this system: Carbs.

Carbs cause the body to release more insulin, which promotes amino acid absorption and leaves tryptophan in the blood. If you mix high-tryptophan foods


Serotonin is one of the basic neurotransmitters that is considered a hormone of stability, well-being, control, etc.

I hope you enjoyed our short post and that it was beneficial to your health. If you want to know more about nutrition, exercise, you can always contact me via email or chat.

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