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Vitamin Stuff Blog

A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Does serotonin promote sleep?

Written by Tena Moore



Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep as well as mood, appetite, sexuality, metabolism and body temperature. Neurotransmitters send messages to the nerves and help different parts of the brain communicate with one another. When levels of serotonin are low, one might suffer from sleeping disorders, depression, and either a decreased appetite, or an increased appetite with cravings for sweet foods. Serotonin is most closely associated with treating depression, though many people use it as a sleep aid as well.

Although serotonin is a natural chemical produced in the body, it can also be found in some foods and is available as a supplement. If you aren’t sleeping well, you can either uptake your healthy serotonin-rich, high protein foods such as turkey, beef, chicken, fish, and dairy. If you would rather take a nutritional supplement, 5-HTP is recommended. 5-HTP, or 5-Hydroxytryptophan, is an amino acid that aids in producing serotonin in the body. It is sold in vitamin and health food stores and is marketed as a sleep aid, a treatment for depression, and a helpful aid for suppressing the appetite.

If you suffer from low mood, sleeplessness and other depression symptoms, a 5-HTP supplement may help your overall mood and sleeping patterns. If you do not suffer from any type of low mood, stress or depression (and who doesn’t?) then you may want to take the supplement melatonin, which is the most well-known dietary supplement for promoting sleep.


Other Posts

  • What foods have both fiber and protein?
  • What are some good fiber foods?
  • Getting enough fiber is extremely important
  • What herbs or supplements are commonly used for depression?
  • Lutein also protects the skin from UV damage
  • DMAE is found in oily fish, but small amounts of it are also produced in the body



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    Placebo Effect: Magnetic Bracelet Therapy

    Written by Tena Moore



    If you or a loved one has arthritis you’ve probably heard about the magic of magnetic wrists straps and copper bracelets to relieve joint pain associated with arthritis (see: "Does Acupuncture help Arthritis? "). The bracelets can range in price from cheap to expensive, and most claim that they are effective for pain associated with stiff joints, especially during cold or wintery weather. To test out this theory scientists from the University of York, led by Stewart Richmond, put together a controlled trial composed of 45 patients.

    Surprisingly, since the bracelets are so popular, this study was the only study using treatment and placebos conducted on the bracelets since the 1970s. What were the results of the trial? The researchers concluded that the bracelets do not provide any relief whatsoever. If any relief is experienced, researchers say it is only due to a placebo effect.

    According to research, the bracelets are of no true value and showed no relief from joint pain at all. Each of the 45 patients was tested using two magnetic strips, a copper bracelet, and a placebo bracelet over a sixteen-week period. All participants were age 50 and older and all were diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Neither the copper bracelet, nor the two different magnetic wrist straps, showed any difference in effectiveness from the placebo bracelet that contained no copper or magnetic properties. The study was reported in the alternative medicine publication Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

    Today more than ever, patients of all types are looking for complementary and alternative healing methods for treatment of all diseases and disorders. While many complementary and alternative treatments are in fact helpful for the patient, not all treatments hold the same effectiveness. For this reason, scientists and doctors are hoping that people will consider clinical tests and trials when deciding which treatments to test out. Although the bracelets are harmless if worn, the cost of the bracelet can be avoided and more effective treatments can be chosen.




    Other Posts

  • The benefits of green leafy vegetables
  • Juicing: Drink Your Way To Better Health
  • Whole Foods stay as close to the natural food source as possible
  • Melatonin may help treat a variety of sleep disorders
  • The Truth About Fats: Healthy Fats and Harmful Fats
  • As a phytoestrogen, genistein mimics the effects of estrogen in the body



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    Is Your Diet Causing You To Be Depressed?

    Written by Tena Moore


    The question remains: are we depressed because of poor eating habits, or are we eating poorly due to our depression? Researchers of a recent study seem to think that the answer is ‘we are depressed because of our poor eating habits’.

    The study was held by researchers at the University of College London, and was reported by the British Journal of Psychiatry. The study found that those who eat very little fresh fruits and vegetables, and a high amount of processed and refined foods are more likely to be at risk for depression. They also found that those who do not eat a lot of fried an processed foods, but instead choose whole foods such as vegetables and fruit are less likely to be at risk for depression.

    The study had over 3,000 participants who were divided into two groups: those eating primarily a whole food diet with lots of vegetables, fish and fruits, and those primarily eating a processed foods diet that is high in fat, sugar, and refined grains. The study was over a five year period and did factor in habits such as physical activity and smoking, as well as age, gender, chronic disease and even education. In the end, the whole foods group had 26 percent less risk for depression than the processed foods group. Those in the processed group had a 58 percent higher risk than those who rarely ate processed foods.

    This study is just one of many that have shown there is a link between what we eat and our mental health, just as there is a link between our diet and our physical health. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to eat fresh produce and fish, though it is quite easy for most people to access and afford processed, unhealthy food from fast food restaurants.





    Other Posts

  • What herbs or supplements are used for depression?
  • 5-HTP (5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan) for depression and anxiety?
  • Depression, Social Interaction, Endorphins, and Exercise
  • Motherwort contains lionurine and stachydrine, alkaloids that not only help lower blood pressure but also have a sedating effect on the central nervous system,
  • What are denatured foods?



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