Mood: Vitamin D and omega-3 increase serotonin

Life Extension, hands forming a heart holding omega-3 fish oil capsules

Millions of adults are estimated to have a mental illness in Europe (and in the USA), and the numbers seem to be increasing. (1) Read on how omega-3 and vitamin D can be useful in treatment and find other mood-boosting supplements.

While omega-3 and vitamin D have been previously suggested to help treat mental illnesses, the exact mechanisms by which they work are not clearly understood. 

Fortunately, a study provides insight into their mood-boosting effects. The results were published in the journal FASEB.

Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids regulate serotonin

Low serotonin levels are implicated in different mental illnesses including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia. (2)

Even various aspects of behavior such as decision making and impulsivity are linked to this vital neurotransmitter.

In this two-part study, scientists from California sought to determine the role of omega-3 and vitamin D on serotonin synthesis. Here is a summary of their results:

EPA helps the release of serotonin from neurons by decreasing inflammatory compounds called E2 prostaglandins. Inflammation blocks the release of serotonin.

DHA increases the fluidity of brain cell membranes, allowing serotonin to reach receptors more easily.
Vitamin D regulates the conversion of tryptophan (an amino acid) into serotonin. The combination protects against mental illnesses by boosting serotonin levels. (2)

The bottom line

Europeans are increasing a lot their psychiatric medications consumption, whose side effects range from dry mouth, insomnia, weight gain, and blurry vision. Vitamin D and omega-3, on the other hand, support mental health without causing serious side effects.

For mental health, therapeutic doses for fish oil range between 2–4 grams with higher doses (10 grams) benefiting conditions such as bipolar disorder.

To maintain optimal vitamin D blood levels, between 5000 to 7000 IU should be taken daily and followed up with blood testing.

More mood-boosting supplements

Enhanced support for healthy sleep, mood, response to stress, and satiety: Optimized Tryptophan Plus
Can helps maintain stable mood: SAMe
A combination of probiotics and saffron extract for positive mood and relaxation: FLORASSIST® Mood Improve

See all mood & stress related products >>


1. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml. Accessed May 15, 2015.
2. FASEB J. 2015 Feb 24. pii: fj.14-268342. 3. Curr Opin Pediatr. 1996 Aug;8(4):348-54.

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