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The nervous system needs some chemical elements, amino acids and molecules, to produce the neurotransmitters that allow us to feel emotions and feelings such as well-being, happiness and love. So in order everything with our body and emotional/psychological state to be in harmony, we have to maintain optimal levels and supply of certain hormones and amino acids on everyday basis.
Here is a list of the most important amino acids and hormones that will keep the depression away and will make you feel happy (most of the time):
Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter in the brain that positively influences the behavior and mood.
Serotonin is produced from an amino acid called tryptophan by the transformation of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which is then converted into serotonin.
Serotonin has an effect on many parts of the body, but in the brain it acts in particular on: mood, appetite, sleep and also on several processes such as thermoregulation, the sleep-wake cycle, the perception of pain, food intake and sexual behavior.
It is the precursor of adrenaline and norepinephrine, two hormones that are also considered neurotransmitters and act as mood stabilizers, play important role in the control of metabolism and stimulation of the nervous system and blood circulation.
A deficiency or excess of dopamine is linked to illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and drug addiction.
Amino acids that are precursors of serotonin and dopamine
This essential amino acid is used for the production of vitamin B3 (niacin) and is converted to 5-HTP, small enough molecules to pass from the blood to the brain or (blood-brain barrier), where they are transformed into serotonin, which is an essential neurotransmitter in the nervous system. 5-HTP is prescribed as a supplement against depression, insomnia or to promote weight loss (read about the controversy over the use of this supplement further bellow in this article).
L-glutamine is an amino acid supplement and is among the most popular for many reasons. It is useful for treating fatigue and depression.
Glutamic acid, which is derived from glutamine is essential for the brain function. In times of stress, your body uses large amounts of glutamine. Glutamine is also effective against cravings for sugar and starch. It is recommended and safe one to consume between 500 and 1,500 mg of L-glutamine in supplement form, three times per day. Start with the lowest dose and increase if necessary.
It is an essential amino acid that cannot be manufactured by the body. Phenylalanine is used to produce tyrosine (see below), and directly affects mood and energy. Phenylalanine supplements are used to treat fatigue, depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the problems of cravings, overeating and chronic pain. As supplements, you can use the D-phenylalanine, L-phenylalanine, or DL-phenylalanine. The first is particularly useful for pain relief, the second is effective, but slightly more challenging and the third is a combination of the two forms.
Start with 500 mg, one to three times a day, and gradually increase the dose up to 1,000 mg three times a day if necessary.
Do not exceed 5,000 mg per day, because it can be toxic.
This amino acid is a precursor of adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine and DOPA(L-DOPA). Such neurotransmitters and hormones have an important role in maintaining healthy nervous system, mood, stimulation of metabolism, appetite regulation and functioning of the thyroid gland, thus tyrosine as precursor of these hormones is even more important, because if its supply is disrupted this will lead to decreased production of the hormones.
A deficiency of tyrosine may be associated with symptoms such as low blood pressure and low body temperature.
Phenylalanine and tyrosine may be used in conjunction. Some people need more of the one or the other, it is useful to use and try different sets of combinations in order to find a balance that suits you.
A good way to positively affect our sense of well-being and mood is to ensure an adequate intake of tryptophan and tyrosine. The best food sources are:
Tryptophan: brown rice, cottage cheese and dairy products in general, meat, peanuts, soy protein, eggs, fish, legumes.
Tryptophan was also available in supplement form, but it was not allowed in the United States by the FDA in 1989 due to some deaths that have been linked to the consumption of this supplement. However, subsequent studies have shown that in fact the supplement had been contaminated during its manufacture. The controversy on this issue is not over. The tryptophan supplement was then replaced by 5-HTP, but it also raises controversy and questions about its safety. 5-HTP is available over the counter, however it was limited till recently in North America.
It seems better to consume foods rich in this amino acid.
Tyrosine: abundant in almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are excellent sources of tyrosine.
There is also the possibility of consuming L-tyrosine in supplement form. People taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) based inhibitors (prescribed in cases of depression), should limit their intake of tyrosine to a minimum and refrain from its use as supplement.
Consuming foods rich in tryptophan and tyrosine contribute to the increased production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and promotes a feeling of well-being, this will also affect positively the mood and will even act as a regulator of the appetite and will stimulate metabolism.
Research has shown that regular exercise promotes the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Also a team of researchers in Italy has found that the use of music therapy, or listening to certain sounds, also stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, so you may want to try such music therapy if other methods don’t work for you.Tags: dopamine, health, hormone, mood, serotonin