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Which health foods help raise serotonin levels?

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Quick Answer

Healthy foods that help raise serotonin levels in the body are primarily sensible carbohydrates. WebMD recommends oatmeal, nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Egg whites, peanut butter, deli turkey and cottage cheese also promote serotonin production.

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Full Answer

The body requires vitamin B complex to produce serotonin. Healthy sources of vitamin B include whole grains, cereals, kidney beans, wheat germ and mushrooms. Watermelon, grapefruit, shellfish and dairy products also boost vitamin B, according to SFGate.

Vitamin B activation in the body and resultant serotonin production is enhanced by the element magnesium. Healthy foods rich in magnesium include spinach, almonds, cashews, black beans, avocado and apples. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, raisins and raw carrots are also good sources of magnesium. Serotonin production is also boosted by foods containing the amino acid L-theanine. Green tea is the most common source of L-theanine, notes SFGate.

The amino acid tryptophan promotes serotonin production when it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Tryptophan is present in proteins, along with many other amino acids that compete for blood-brain barrier transport opportunity. Tryptophan is often preempted by other amino acids in this competition, but the consumption of carbohydrates triggers other physiological processes that can aid tryptophan transport to the brain, according to NutritionFacts.org.

The nutritional supplement 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5HTP, increases serotonin levels, but it should be taken for only a short period, according to WebMD. Individuals with heart problems should not take 5HTP.

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