Important: 8 Best Serotonin Increasing Supplements & Strategies

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Looking for the best natural serotonin increasing supplements and other alternatives to boost your mood and bust anxiety and depression?

Look no further than these 8 “Serotonin Increasing” Supplements & Strategies to boost your mood (that no one is really talking about). 

The Serotonin 101 

Serotonin - Happy Young Woman Doing Exercise

Before we jump into the 8 Serotonin Increasing Supplements & Strategies. Let’s do a quick refresh on it. This will help you understand WHY I recommend these 7 Serotonin Increasing Supplements & Strategies in the first place!

What is Serotonin?

  • The Anxiety-Depression-Serotonin Connection
  • How to Boost Serotonin Naturally
  • The Gut-Serotonin-Mood Connection

Serotonin is the “feel good” chemical in your body. 

We all produce serotonin…but some people produce more than others. 

The Anxiety-Depression-Serotonin Connection

For years, scientists have claimed that low serotonin and “chemical imbalances” are the root causes behind anxiety, depression and low mood. Low serotonin is also linked to insomnia, impulsive or obsessive thinking and anorexia or lack of appetite!

Hence, in order to help people “boost serotonin” and “boost mood”, SSRI drugs—Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—have long been prescribed as the “go-to solution”. 

(Obviously, if a person is not “feeling good”, they must have low serotonin, and a drug to help uptake it could be helpful, right?).

However, research released in 2022 found that the “low serotonin” theory is a myth. 

The research does not support the claims that anxiety and depression are caused by low serotonin  with headlines like:

How to Boost Serotonin [& Bust Anxiety and Depression] Naturally

Sooo…if low serotonin does not cause anxiety and depression…what does? 

And more importantly, if this is the case do you need to take “serotonin increasing supplements” or medications? Are we targeting the wrong thing? 

Yes and no. 

Recent research does show that low serotonin and chemicals in the brain do not cause anxiety and depression. Hence, focusing on increasing serotonin and chemicals in the brain with drugs or supplements is a waste of time.

Buttttt…what research is missing is the fact that serotonin is actually produced inside your GUT. 

95% of all serotonin is produced, activated and balanced by the gut microbiome.  

Hence, if you have a healthy gut, you have healthy serotonin production and levels. If you have an unhealthy gut, you can probably guess why—your gut is out of balance.

Enter: How to Boost (and BALANCE) Serotonin Naturally…Start with your gut!

The Gut-Serotonin-Mood Connection

Serotonin - Happy Young Woman Holding A Glass Of Fruit Shake

Studies in patients with eating disorders display the gut-serotonin-brain connection beautifully! Eating disorder patients are  characterized by both “bad gut health” and anxiety and depression. Why? Altered (low) levels of serotonin receptors in their gut influence how they feel and think. However, when these patients improve their gut, research shows anxiety, depression and disordered eating may also improve.  Soooo…there is some link between serotonin and mood. 

However, where the former research gets it wrong is: it may not actually be low serotonin itself that causes anxiety and depression…but instead IMBALANCED SEROTONIN levels—derived from inflammation, hormone, metabolic and gut microbiome imbalances —that does!

Imbalanced serotonin affects the brain (anxiety and depression) due to an up regulation in inflammation, poor gut motility and metabolism. In other words: maybe it’s not low serotonin itself that causes anxiety or depression, BUT the byproducts of low or imbalanced serotonin that do.

And it all starts in the gut (again where 95% of serotonin is produced). 

8 Serotonin Increasing Supplements & Strategies

Most supplement and lifestyle strategies to increase serotonin focus on the brain—suggesting formulas like tryptophan, St. John’s Wart, 5 HTP and SAMe. However, given the gut-serotonin connection, these 8 Serotonin Increasing Supplements & Strategies focus on supporting and balancing your gut health. 

#1. Tributyrin 

Serotonin - Tributyrin-X

Butyrate is a “post biotic” or “short chain fatty acid” known for its anti-inflammatory properties and serotonin boosting qualities. Gut microbes promote colonic serotonin production through an effect of short-chain fatty acids on enterochromaffin cells. 

Check out this formula

#2. Probiotics

Boost healthy gut bugs with probiotics. Start with an easy-to-tolerate quality formula like this and this. Then pair it with pre-biotics to help them stick in your gut. (Start low and go slow). 

#3. Colostrum

Colostrum is nature’s super food that supports gut healing and decreases intestinal permeability (leaky gut). I love this formula.

#4. Digestive Enzymes & HCL

Serotonin - Digestive Enzymes &Amp; Hcl

Ensure your gut bugs are breaking down and digesting your food with digestive enzymes and HCL (stomach acid)…especially if you feel bloated or constipated regularly. 

#5. Bone Broth

Just like your great great grandmother used to make! Why did our ancestors have less “mental health issues” overall? They ate A LOT of real foods…like bone broth. If you’re not a huge fan of making your own, try this one. Aim to consume 1 to 2 cups per day—alone or cooked into other foods like veggies, rice or soups and stews. 

#6. Sleep

Serotonin Increasing Supplements - Woman Sleeping

1 in 3 people are sleep deprived. That same amount of people experience clinical signs of anxiety or depression. Hmm…maybe there is a link? Adequate sleep promotes less inflammation and overall balance in the gut (and less anxiety and depression); and a balanced gut promotes better sleep (and less anxiety and depression). 

#7. Movement

Exercise and movement helps encourage a healthy balance of gut bacteria, digestion and consequently serotonin…as long as we don’t overdue it (overtraining). Ever wonder why exercise is cited as a top “prescription” for boosting mood and decreasing anxiety and depression? Now you know! It modulates the gut which then affects serotonin levels (and inflammation). 

#8. Sunshine

Sun makes us happy. Why? Well, your Vitamin D (sunshine) receptors happen to be in our gut. When we have enough Vitamin D (intercepted by our gut), our gut produces chemicals (like serotonin and dopamine) to make us feel good and happy. Scientifically: Brain serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan by tryptophan hydroxylase 2, which is transcriptionally activated by vitamin D hormone.

Ready to take your health back into your own hands? Book a complimentary call with Dr. Lauryn at our virtual functional medicine clinic to strategize a game plan for healing…now. 

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