When was the last time you thought about your serotonin levels? You’ve probably vaguely heard about this hormone before, but did you know that it greatly affects how you go about your daily life, from how much food you eat to how you feel? If your serotonin levels are off, it could lead to a number of complex health problems. Luckily, there’s a supplement that could help. Here’s what you need to know about 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
What is 5-HTP?
The supplement 5-HTP is an amino acid that’s naturally produced in the body. It’s vital in the creation of serotonin, a critical hormone that does a number of important jobs by making sure brain cells and the rest of the nervous system communicate effectively. Its responsibilities include regulating your moods, overseeing your sleep patterns, stabilizing your weight, and improving digestion, among many other things. When the body has a serotonin shortage, you may notice that you have more symptoms of anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, and issues with weight management.
That’s where an 5-HTP supplement, which typically comes from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia, can help. Studies have shown that it can have a number of health benefits, including suppressing hunger hormones so that you don’t get hungry as quickly, increasing feelings of fullness, combatting a serotonin imbalance that causes depressive symptoms, and preventing or lessening the severity of migraines.
On top of all of that, scientists are conducting early studies now looking at how serotonin and 5-HTP supplements can improve fibromyalgia symptoms and boost quality sleep, and there are some promising results. They require more research, but it’s a start.
What are its side effects?
Currently, side effects when taking an 5-HTP supplement include nausea, stomach aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. Based on current research, doses of 50 to 100 milligrams twice per day are generally safe for consumption for your first two weeks taking it. Scientists recommend not going over 800 milligrams daily for more than six weeks at a time.
How should you take it?
5-HTP supplements often come in the form of an oral capsule (Buy on Amazon, $16.83) and are easy to find online.
As with any supplement, do your research before making a purchase, and talk to your doctor prior to getting started. That extra medical opinion matters!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First For Women.