Serotonin and Sunlight: The Refreshing Combination

A dull day looks gloomy, feels gloomy and is gloomy. And that gut feeling is actually scientific and very much real!! 

Rise and Shine with the Sun

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) is a multi functional molecule, which fulfills the role of a  neurotransmitter as well as of a hormone. Brain derived serotonin (BDS) works a neurotransmitter, whereas, gut derived serotonin (GDS) functions as a hormone.these two can never mix up and are separated by a special membrane, the blood-brain barriers Also, the synthesizing process of serotonin is a multistep process and due to the presence of two different kind of genes in an enzyme involved in producing serotonin, BDS and GDS are considered to be two distinct molecules. Serotonin, in the hormonal form, has established linkage with mood, perceiving abilities and memory. Also, relation between low levels of serotonin and depression/anxiety has also been traced. Other functions of the serotonin include regulation of sleep, digestion, blood clotting and also has a part in the regulation of the bone density. 

Now, sunlight has an important role in the health of an individual. Now you may ask, how? Well, it is because sunlight is believed to trigger an increase in the release of serotonin in the body. Serotonin, apart from being a mood booster, is also said to help with focus and feeling calm. No wonder, it is called the ‘feel-good’ chemical of our body. Hence, during season change, especially to winter, people have a significant chance of experiencing season based pattern depression, which was formerly known as  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is linked to the noticeable decrease to sun exposure. Also, serotonin, when acetylated and methylated, results in melatonin. Melatonin is the primary hormone related to the sleep cycle. Apart from that, melatonin is also involved in blood pressure regulation. So, it is an obvious fact that disturbance in levels of serotonin will ultimately affect the production of melatonin in the body, which in turn, will affect the sleep related processes in an individual. So if you are looking for a change from the night owl habits, how about soaking up some sunlight? P.S. Normal blood pressure and a healthy circulatory system are complementary! 

Limits for a reason…

GDS, surprisingly, isn’t too friendly with the bones. Higher than normal serotonin levels have been linked with osteoporosis (bones being porous and hence, fragile). With the laboratory experiments, it has been observed that serotonin prevents the replication and development of the osteoblasts. This leads to production of a significantly lesser number of cells by the osteoblasts in comparison to the cells destroyed by the osteoclasts. This, in return, leads to a lesser amount of bone material and the bone becomes porous. Sounds bad right?

But as they say, where there is a will, there is a way. The researchers have found a way to lower the serotonin levels, if and when required in the body, by a dietary regulation. This regulation involves the reduction in intake of tryptophan, which happens to be a requirement in the synthesis of serotonin. Talk about curbing a problem from the bud, huh?

So, all and all, serotonin is a pretty amazing hormone, but only at the normal levels. 

Website Reference:

https://www.tricitymed.org/2018/08/5-ways-the-sun-impacts-your-mental-and-physical-health/#:~:text=That%20serotonin%20you%20soak%20up,also%20helps%20your%20body%20produce.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/serotonin

Categories: Health

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