Food to improve your love hormone
Valentine's day is here and we are all ready to indulge in a little bit of chocolate, wine or sweets and time with those we care about most. This time of the year is all about increasing the feeling of love and as a matter of fact we can do that with the foods we eat! Specifically we can do that by targeting our love hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is considered our “love” hormone because this hormone is increased when we hug and feel intimate with others. Specifically for women, oxytocin helps with bonding between mother and baby. Overall, oxytocin contributes to our emotional well being and there are things we can do to increase our feel good hormones. Certain nutrients help increase oxytocin production. Continue reading to find out which ones!
The first nutrient is Vitamin D, also considered the “happy vitamin”. This is because there has been a link between depression and vitamin D levels. Low Vitamin D levels have been seen in those who have depression. Sunshine is also a source of vitamin D which has been shown to increase happiness! Not only is vitamin D a nutrient, but it is also a pro hormone. A pro hormone helps to activate other hormones. Vitamin D is a prohormone to oxytocin, serotonin and vasopressin. These are three brain hormones that affect social behavior. Vitamin D is needed to produce enough of these hormones in our body. There are many ways to increase your vitamin D. For example, taking in some sunshine daily, increasing your intake of fatty fish, mushrooms, eggs or fortified foods! Make sure to read my blog post on your guide to vitamins and minerals to learn more about Vitamin D.
Another nutrient that helps manage levels of oxytocin is Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps produce oxytocin. Vitamin C can be found in most fruit and vegetables such as peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.
Lastly, an important mineral for oxytocin is magnesium. Magnesium is used in the body for muscle and nerve function and many other processes in our body. Magnesium is required for the receptor of oxytocin to function well. A receptor helps with proper function of hormones in your body. Magnesium rich foods include spinach, pumpkin, avocado and dark chocolate!
In order to create hormones, our body needs dietary fat. Eating a variety of fats, even saturated fat and cholesterol, help with hormone production. Many have claimed cholesterol is not good for us when in fact our body needs it. Cholesterol can be found in fatty fish, seeds or nuts. These foods are healthy choices to keep our cholesterol in a good range.
There can be some signs to show that oxytocin is not performing optimally in your body. Some symptoms can include a lack of interest in social interactions, difficulty communicating with others or feeling low emotionally. Since oxytocin is a social hormone, we see changes in our social interactions when oxytocin is low. Oxytocin can also be affected with stress. When you are stressed your cortisol levels go up and oxytocin levels go down. Managing stress is a critical part of keeping hormones healthy.
Other “happy hormones” include dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. Dopamine is a hormone that is a part of your brain’s reward system. It is released during pleasurable situations such as creating relationships or learning something new. This hormone causes you to seek out that pleasure feeling over and over again. Serotonin, another one of our hormones, helps to regulate our mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. Lastly, our feel good hormones include endorphins. Endorphins are produced in response to stress or discomfort and their purpose is to reduce the feeling of stress and increase pleasure. We have all heard how working out increases our endorphins and this is why! Eating well and keeping your stress levels down can help improve oxytocin levels and increase these feel good hormones.
Keeping oxytocin levels and other happy hormones high requires a daily effort! Physical touch is one of the fastest ways to increase oxytocin levels, so remember to hug your loved ones tight! Relationship building can also assist oxytocin levels even by making eye contact or shaking hands. Fun fact, even playing and hugging your pet increases oxytocin levels! Exercise is a great way to keep stress down and oxytocin levels up. When you need a little boost in happiness try taking a walk outside where you can increase your heart rate and absorb some vitamin D! A healthy diet can go a long way in keeping you happy as well. Increase your intake of Vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin C to help in the production and function of oxytocin and other hormones. A fun recipe to try can be an avocado chocolate pudding! The magnesium in the dark chocolate helps with your oxytocin receptor and healthy fats in the avocado helps to produce our hormones. Look for fun valentines day recipes to keep your hormones healthy and you happy!