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Before you take any serotonin supplement, it’s important to understand a little bit about them and especially how they work together.Sometimes there are vital synergistic relationships between these various serotonin boosting substances.Do so only if you are working with a knowledgeable health care professional. Tryptophan: Tryptophan might seem like a logical serotonin supplement to try first since tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin.Together, they can cause too large an increase in serotonin, which can result in a potentially serious condition known as serotonin syndrome. Tryptophan is an amino acid commonly found in protein-rich foods like animal products.There are several co-factors required to make the most commonly used serotonin supplements do their job.Conversely, there are times when these supplements can react adversely with medications or other serotonin supplements, and you need to know about those, too.A review of 108 studies on 5-HTP revealed there is still no definitive evidence that it helps depression (9). An Ongoing Debate: There’s an ongoing discussion in the natural health community whether it’s better to take tryptophan or 5-HTP to increase serotonin levels.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro are used by millions to relieve symptoms of depression by increasing brain levels of serotonin.But since protein blocks serotonin synthesis, eating a meal containing protein will actually cause both tryptophan and serotonin levels drop.However, tryptophan supplements can increase brain serotonin even though eating foods containing tryptophan does not (5).Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 must be present to facilitate conversion of either 5-HTP or tryptophan into serotonin (17, 18).Often 5-HTP or tryptophan supplements also contain B6 for this reason.
Tryptophan supplements fell out of favor when a contaminated batch from Japan caused thousands to fall ill in the 1980s.