Foods That Increase Serotonin


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain plays a role in mood and anxiety disorders. The most common antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), work by blocking the absorption of serotonin (and sometimes other neurotransmitters) so that more is available in the brain. People who are interested in boosting their brain serotonin levels in other ways sometimes turn to diet, choosing foods that may help increase serotonin.


Foods and meals rich in carbohydrates make it easier for tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, to enter the brain. Simple carbohydrates, like sugar and other refined carbs, increase serotonin levels most significantly, but the effect is fleeting. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, legumes, and whole fruits and vegetables provide a more gradual and longer-lasting effect.

Vitamin B6

The brain needs vitamin B6 in order to produce serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Foods rich in B6 include fish, chicken, pork, fortified cereals, bananas, peanut butter, beans, and a number of vegetables.

Dark Chocolate

Some studies have linked dark chocolate to increased serotonin levels, with 1 oz per day being a common recommendation. Dark chocolate should contain a high percentage of cocoa and little or no added sugar.

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