Vitamins and minerals make up an essential part of our diet and support optimal physical and mental functioning. Although you can find most of the vitamins we need in everyday foods, it can be challenging to make sure that our diets cover all of the minerals we need.
Instead, many people take chewable vitamins each day to maintain optimal levels and ensure that their bodies get all of the nutrients necessary for excellent health.
Some of the nutrients that can be consumed as gummies have also been shown to improve both physical and mental problems and are often taken as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
One of the most popular varieties is 5-HTP which is widely used as a treatment for depression. Health professionals are yet to completely understand the exact cause of 5-HTP's effects on depression, but many assume that the supplement can target neurotransmitters in the brain.
One of the key neurotransmitters in developing and maintaining depression is dopamine, which decreases in those who suffer from the condition.
So, does 5-HTP increase dopamine levels?
In this post, we're going to explore 5-HTP in more detail and look into the research surrounding its effects. Read on to find out all you need to know about 5-HTP.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a dietary supplement made using the leaves of Griffonia Simplicifolia.
The supplement is often compared to L-tryptophan as both supplements are known to affect neurotransmitters associated with affective disorders in the brain.
5-HTP can be sold as a herbal supplement or as a chewable gummy and is safe to be consumed by most people, although those who suffer from a pre-existing health condition are advised to speak to their doctors before use.
What is 5-HTP used for?
5-HTP is most commonly used to treat depression or fibromyalgia (a condition that causes a person to feel widespread pain and extreme tiredness). 5-HTP is used to treat these conditions because it has been shown to target neurotransmitters responsible for their onset.
The supplement has also been used to treat insomnia, alcohol addiction, headaches and PMS, although research into the effectiveness of 5-HTP as a treatment for these conditions is limited. 5-HTP is available to buy from drugstores and online vitamin shops and can be taken as either a herbal supplement or as a chewable gummy.
Doctors can also prescribe 5-HTP for patients struggling with depression or fibromyalgia as an alternative treatment from usual pharmaceutical drugs.
Does 5-HTP increase dopamine levels?
5-HTP has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, so many people assume that the supplement increases dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regularly produces feelings of pleasure and provides motivation to carry out rewarding actions.
When dopamine is reduced, it will minimise those feelings of pleasure, and affective disorders, such as depression, may occur. A variety of research has been carried out into the effects of 5-HTP on dopamine.
Research by R.W.Chase and colleagues in 1972 found that 5-HTP effectively enhanced dopamine release when tested in rat brains.
Studies such as this provide evidence the 5-HTP does increase dopamine levels, which could explain why the supplement is effective as a treatment for depression.
However, other research suggests that the ability to increase levels of serotonin (another neurotransmitter in the brain) causes 5-HTP to decrease dopamine levels, which may worsen affective disorders.
The exact cause of this effect is unclear, and the research behind using 5-HTP to target neurotransmitters is still developing. For this reason, it is recommended to try other forms of treatment before turning to 5-HTP.
What are the other side effects of 5-HTP?As well as possibly increasing dopamine levels in the brain, 5-HTP has been shown to increase levels of serotonin which also help towards improving mood and normal psychological function. It is rare to experience any severe side effects whilst taking 5-HTP; however, some people may experience:
- Serotonin syndrome (this is a serious condition that requires immediate medical care).
- Gastrointestinal issues such as gas or heartburn.
- High blood pressure.
- Muscle pain
- Skin rashes
Who should be taking 5-HTP
5-HTP is not safe for children. 5-HTP is also not recommended for people who are pregnant or for anyone who is already taking antidepressants. Taking 5-HTP alongside any other medications could cause an interaction, so it is always best to ask your doctor for advice before taking the supplement. 5-HTP is recommended for those who suffer from an affective disorder, such as depression, that decreases the brain's serotonin levels. If you do not believe that you have decreased serotonin levels, do not take 5-HTP, leading to serotonin syndrome. Some people may also take 5-HTP to help treat insomnia; however, research into this is limited, so you should always speak to a medical professional before going ahead with this. For those who take 5-HTP for depression (or affective disorders), the supplement is generally safe and easy to consume as part of a daily diet.
Always remember to speak to a doctor before taking any supplements that may affect brain functioning. Novomins is a nutrition company that specialises in edible vitamins and dietary supplements. The 5-HTP sold by Novomins is blended with magnesium and vitamin B12 to support optimal functioning during daily activities. The gummies come in a delicious raspberry flavour, making them easy to consume and perfectly safe for anyone to use.
To find out more about our range of tasty, gummy vitamins, check out our website today.