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Serotonin belongs to monoamines, a neurotransmitter group that has a direct correlation with mood, with our physical and spiritual tranquility. Neurotransmitters are chemical compounds that help nerve cells in the brain to communicate with each other. Unusual changes in neurotransmitter function have been associated with the emergence of many neurological diseases such as Alzheimer, parkinsonism and depression.

It is noteworthy that although serotonin is found in many foods such as cheese, fruit, vegetables, however, it cannot easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier, making it difficult to increase its concentration in our brains and thus in our organism.

The mechanism by which we can achieve both the increase and the synthesis of serotonin in our body is based on the intake of tryptophan, which is the serotonin precursor compound, as it can penetrate the barrier to a greater extent and synthesize serotonin with the help of coenzyme pyridoxal phosphate (PLP), which is derived from vitamin B6.

Tryptophan (Trp) is a necessary amino acid, which cannot be synthesized by the body and therefore should be taken through nutrition.


Foods rich in Tryptophanes

Chicken 100γρ / 360mg

Turkey  100γρ / 340mg

Ton  85γρ / 280mg

Salmon  85γρ /260mg

Beans  170γρ / 180mg

Oats  85γρ / 175mg

Lentils 200γρ / 160mg

Pumpkin seeds 30γρ / 120mg

Sunflower  30γρ / 100mg

Tahini  1κ. σούπας / 56 mg

Walnuts 25 γρ / 50 mg


Foods rich in vitamin B6




Dried plums


Whole grain cereals

Enriched cereals


In conclusion

A balanced and properly designed diet can bring about significant changes in our physical and mental wellbeing. The above analysis is based on scientific studies that support the association of dietary intake of tryptophan and serotonin and whether these affect the mental health of a population. It is important to emphasize how more research will need to be done to substantiate the importance of nutrition in improving our mental health.


Dietitian - Nutritionist with active postgraduate studies in Public Health (M.Sc Public Health) | Further Education in Diabetes | Member of the Greek Medical Society of Obesity.