Using Amino Acids to Brighten Your Mood

Neurotransmitters are the molecules of communication between neurons in the brain. They are required in optimal amounts to have a good mood, the ability to be relaxed, and energy. A lack of neurotransmitters can result in depression, anxiety, fatigue, obsessive thinking, and many other states of emotional unwellness. Several neurotransmitters are probably familiar: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Anti-depressant medications prevent the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, thus increasing their availability and improving mood. However, this always adds a foreign molecule to the brain, sometimes causing side-effects.

The natural way to increase neurotransmitters is to carefully add the nutrients that build them. The most dramatic effects usually come from adding amino acids, which are the primary building blocks of these brain biochemicals. Additionally, we need to have enough of the vitamin and mineral co-factors that enable these processes.

Neurotransmitters can be divided into two primary categories: inhibitory and excitatory. Inhibitory transmitters help the brain regulate itself and help the body to relax. Excitatory neurotransmitters bring energy up. Both can have a very positive effect on mood. Generally speaking, it is important to have abundant inhibitory neurotransmitters before increasing the level of excitatory neurotransmitters.

Serotonin is the best known inhibitory transmitter. It enables a person to be happy and relaxed, and it makes high quality sleep possible. The body builds serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is then converted into 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is converted into serotonin. The body must have enough iron and vitamin B-6 to make these conversions. You can take either tryptophan or 5-HTP in order to enhance serotonin. Take 50 – 200 mg. of 5-HTP and 50 mg. of P -5-P (the active form of vitamin B-6) in the morning for mood. (All doses in this handout are per day.) Or take 500-1000 mg. of tryptophan before bed on an empty stomach for sleep. Have your iron levels tested, with an iron panel or a serum ferritin, and then supplement iron appropriately.

Glycine, Taurine, and Gaba are other inhibitory neurotransmitters. Taking them rarely has an immediate effect, but they are very important over time. Since these neurotransmitters are amino acids, they can be taken directly, 500 – 1000 mg. each. GABA may have a rapid benefit for relaxation and sleep.

Norepinephrine and Dopamine are excitatory neurotransmitters that increase energy and positive mood. They help focus your attention, and they are involved in many pleasurable activities. Both neurotransmitters are built from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, which also require iron and vitamin B-6 for proper conversion. Supplementing these amino acids and co-factor nutrients can raise levels of norepinephrine and dopamine. Try 500 – 1000 mg. of either amino acid on an empty stomach.

Category : Articles Posted on April 16, 2013

One Comment → “Using Amino Acids to Brighten Your Mood”

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