9 Mood Boosting Supplements That Actually Work
Happiness has a unique biochemistry in the brain. Nutrition plays a vital role in regulating it.
According to the research, your mood can be effectively balanced and enhanced naturally, and certain mood boosting supplements may be the answer. Mood improvement occurs if the building blocks are available to make four key happiness neurotransmitters. These are serotonin, dopamine, noreinephrine and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).
A major cause of mood problems is stress. Generally speaking it can be hard to feel happy when you’re stressed out, but there’s a reason for that: Stress is known to deplete our brains of the feel-good neurotransmitters we need to be happy. It’s no wonder so-called wonder drugs for happiness are big sellers these days, despite their known risks.
So should you entertain the possibility of discussing a more natural route with our doctor? Here are 9 supplements to consider.
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9 Mood Enhancing Supplements Can Naturally Boost Happiness
1. Sceletium Tortuosum
Sceletium tortuosum is considered one of the most effective all-natural stress busters available. This fast-acting supplement can calm and lift your spirits in a matter of 30 minutes, without having to permit time for it to build up in your system. You may have seen this South African succulent herb offered under the name of its most popular patent ingredient called Zembrin. This herb is the most researched and most respected extract of Sceletium tortuosum in the world. The San Bushmen of South Africa have used sceletium for centuries to enhance mood. It is also used to relieve stress. It is commonly used to combat anxiety and fatigue too. Do you frequently find yourself stressed? How about irritable or moody? This is one of the mood boosting supplements you want to have on hand.
2. Fish Oil
Surprised? You’re not alone. But according to a wealth of research, supplemental fish oil can lift mood. People with high blood levels of omega-3s are less likely to report feeling depressed than people with low levels, and fish oil has been shown to actually help you to calm down in the face of stress. They also tend to respond better to conventional therapy.
The latest research suggests that fish oil promotes structural improvement. In particular, in areas of the brain related to emotional arousal and regulation.
“You won’t see as immediate a result as you will with some other supplements,” says Live in the Now Medical Editor Kevin Passero, N.D., of Bethesda, Maryland. “It can take 8 to 12 months to be really effective. But that doesn’t discount how valuable it really is.” Take a supplement that has a good amount of DHA in it compared to other fish oils. (A ratio of 2:1 of EPA to DHA is acceptable.) Fish oil is one of the most effective mood enhancing supplements.
Take at least 1,000 mg a day of a high quality fish oil formula (or a high potency DHA supplement).
Side Note: For other nutrients that have been shown to work as well as commonly prescribed drugs, check our article Natural Alternatives to 10 of the Most Common Drugs.
3. Phosphatidylserine (PS)
Phosphatidyl Serine is thought to increase communication between brain cells. It can also restore a primary neurotransmitter that is important to memory and cognitive function.
Besides keeping cells intact, this membrane performs vital functions. These actions include moving nutrients into cells and pumping waste products out of them. Investigators in one study determined that PS could add up to 12 years to the life and health of your noggin. This result was especially present in specific aspects of memory performance. Phosphatidylserine is shown in studies to boost cognitive function by increasing communication between brain cells.
In one study, those who took 100 mg of PS three times a day with meals for 12 weeks scored 30% higher on memory and learning tests. Many other studies have corroborated these types of findings. In another study it worked just as well for people with mild to severe cognitive impairment.
We recommend 100 mg of PS, 2-3 times a day.
Tyrosine is an amino acid. It is a precursor to two important neurotransmitters. These are epinephrine and norepinephrine. It also supports normal thyroid function. “As a general rule it is helpful for people with low, slow, down depression,” says, Dr. Passero. It goes well taken with SAMe. Some scientists believe that the brain may not be able to synthesize enough tyrosine under stressful conditions. Also, increasing the availability of tyrosine to the brain can help avoid the negative effects of stress. Tyrosine can also improve alertness after sleep deprivation.
We recommend 500-1,000 mg a day for energy.
5-HTP is the abbreviated version of 5-hydroxytryptophan. It is used by our bodies to make serotonin. By supplementing with 5-HTP, you increase the building blocks available for the production of this vital neurotransmitter. This helps regulate mood. It even regulates sleep and appetite. Reduced levels of serotonin are associated with mood imbalances and compulsive fixations. They can also result in aggressive behaviors and migraine headaches.
Taking 5-HTP seems to significantly improve lift feelings of sadness. It is a good first choice for people with stress-induced mood imbalances, Dr. Passero says.
Dosages of 5-HTP range from 50-400 mg, but it’s best taken at bedtime or in divided doses throughout the day.
Curcumin is best known for it’s ability to break up brain plaques. It is also shown to curb inflammation. It may be a spice to tap for those looking to boost mood through mood enhancing supplements. Believe it or not, studies have found that curcumin may improve depressive states even better than some depression medications. One study published in Phytotherapy Research was particularly compelling. It compared the efficacy of curcumin with that of fluoxetine. Fluoxetine is also known by the trade name Prozac. For more on how cucumin helps with depressive symptoms check out this study: Curcumin Reduces Symptoms of Mood Imbalance By More Than 50%.
GABA is the shortened name for gamma aminobutyric acid and it is often used to bust through feelings of stress and elevate mood. It works in the central nervous system and is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter known to decrease nerve activity, preventing nerves from over-firing. In addition to reducing feelings of stress, GABA has been known to improve sleep cycles, thereby leading to more restful sleep. As a bonus, GABA has been known to have powerful stabilizing effects on blood pressure.
Some doctors recommend GABA in the amount of 2 grams four times daily. But a safer, more realistic dose is 500-2,000 mg. Take on an empty stomach at bedtime.
Taurine is an amino acid precursor to GABA. It may actually work better than GABA for relieving stress. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and gets into your brain better than GABA. Then, it works to increase GABA production and produce a sense of calmness, Dr. Passero says.
A typical dose is 500-1,000 mg a day. Take in divided doses.
Rhodiola rosea is commonly referred to as roseroot, an herb that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Today, it is used for increasing energy and stamina, and is also known to improve strength and mental capacity.
It is used as a so-called “adaptogen,” a substance known to help the body adapt to and resist physical and mental stress. It is also used for improving athletic performance and sexual function. Research shows it has significant central nervous system activity, reducing feelings of sadness and boosting overall mood. It is especially good for low-slow depression, says Dr. Passero. However, people with stress-induced sadness should avoid it. “Those people would do better taking a gentler herb, such as ashwagandha or holy basil,” he says. These are both Indian (Ayurvedic) herbs. They are known for their ability to relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
An effective dose of rhodiola is 170 mg. Take standardized extract twice a day. For ashwagandha or holy basil, about 500 mg daily of a standardized extract.
Stress can deplete your body — and your brain — of what it needs to be happy. Natural mood enhancing supplements can effectively help restore the building blocks of good brain chemistry.