Three of the most widely used serotonin supplements are the amino acids tryptophan, 5-HTP, and SAM-e.Note that it is not considered safe to mix any of these amino acid supplements with antidepressant medications (4).
Elsewhere in Europe, it’s available as a prescription drug (8).
Unfortunately, this supplement’s usefulness for depression may be more hype than substance.
Several other brain-related disorders besides depression are related to low serotonin, including autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and schizophrenia (3).
Many people with depression or other serotonin deficiency symptoms and conditions are searching for better ways to increase serotonin levels naturally without the use of drugs.
Within a few months, this inevitably causes a cascade of negative side effects (10). Datis Kharrazian, author of , lists these co-factors as needed for the synthesis of either tryptophan or 5-HTP to serotonin — vitamins B3, B6, and B12, folic acid, and magnesium.
Look either for serotonin boosting supplements that contain these along with the main active ingredients or add them separately with a high-quality multivitamin mineral supplement.But SSRIs can have serious side effects and don’t work for everyone, possibly up to 40 percent of those who try them (1).Some research shows they work no better than a placebo (2).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).It’s particularly helpful for Parkinson’s and schizophrenia patients who also have depression (14).