zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

How Is Serotonin Produced?

by
author image Jennifer Boyden
Jennifer Boyden has been writing professionally since 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College and graduate degrees in mental health counseling and criminal justice from Suffolk University. Boyden also has experience playing and coaching collegiate softball and is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer.
How Is Serotonin Produced?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Photo Credit blue brain image by John Sfondilias from Fotolia.com

As a common neurotransmitter used by the brain to relay signals from one area to another, serotonin influences many psychological functions. From mood and temperature regulation to sexual desire and appetite, serotonin is integral to daily life. While the average adult harbors only 5 to 10mg of serotonin in the body, that small amount affects almost all of the approximately 40 million cells contained in the brain.

Types

While serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the brain, around 98 percent of the serotonin found in the body is located in blood platelets, mast cells and the digestive tract. While both forms of serotonin are produced from the amino acid tryptophan, only those neurotransmitters synthesized in the brain can affect the brain: serotonin formed in the body cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.

Production

While serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, tryptophan can, and almost all of it is converted to serotonin. The synthesis of serotonin is a two-step process. First, tryptophan hydroxylase enzymes convert tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan with the help of oxygen, iron and THB as co-factors. Second, AAAD and PLP enzymes combine to convert 5-hydroxytryptophan to serotonin.

You Might Also Like

Considerations

Serotonin is more sensitive to diet than any other neurotransmitter in the brain. The effects are not direct, however. As stated on Psych Central, carbohydrates especially can increase the levels of tryptophan in the body. These foods trigger the release of insulin which causes the body to absorb all amino acids in the blood except tryptophan. Consequently, tryptophan remains in the bloodstream until it crosses the blood-brain barrier and can be converted to serotonin. Vitamin B-6 can also influence the rate at which serotonin is produced.

Benefits

While serotonin is utilized in many psychological processes, one of its primary uses is in the production of melatonin. In fact, the highest concentration of serotonin is located in the pineal body: the source of melatonin. Melatonin is particularly sensitive to light; consequently, the pineal body is at the core of the body's circadian rhythm. Melatonin also plays a role in inhibiting sexual activity and increasing body heat.

Warning

Many researchers believe that depression and other mood disorders are rooted in a serotonin imbalance. Whether the brain produces too little of the neurotransmitter or nerve cells are unable to receive the serotonin after it is synthesized, the result is severe psychiatric distress. According to the Mayo Clinic, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are popular antidepressants that attempt to alleviate this imbalance. SSRIs prevent the reuptake of serotonin by nerve cells and consequently increase the availability of the neurotransmitter in the brain.

Related Searches

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

References

Demand Media