New MoodTM put out by Onnit Labs is all about elevating mood and making you feel good about yourself. Onnit Labs has combined amino acids, vitamins, minerals and various botanicals to create a well balanced supplement for optimal health in terms of having a positive outlook on life. New MoodTM contains 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), L-Tryptophan, magnesium chelate, Vitamin B3, B6 and D3, Chamomile, Passion flower, Valerian root and Lemon balm. 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan are amino acid derivatives that are precursors of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” transmitter and responsible for elevating mood giving an over all positive outlook on things. Vitamin D3 is synergistically working with serotonin to further elevate mood and magnesium helps to relax muscle. Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of transmitters including serotonin.Low levels of serotonin is associated with depression, anxiety, obesity, low libido and insomnia and much more. This can happen if you don’t get enough L-Tryptophan in your diet. L-Tryptophan happens to be an essential amino acid which means your body can’t make it. It has been reported that loss of sleep may generate low levels of serotonin production bringing about depression as well. It’s a vicious cycle.
Since depression is often linked to low levels of serotonin and dopamine and depression is quite common in our culture pharmaceutical companies have had a hay day in making drugs for this mental illness. Many of these drugs are based on trying to preserve serotonin in the brain and they are called SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). That’s a mouth full. Okay, what that means is that this class of drugs will allow serotonin to remain in the synaptic cleft longer allowing for greater signal strength to the next neuron. Perhaps you are familiar with Prozac and Zoloft. These drugs have been shown to have side effects in some individuals. Clinical trials indicate that both SSRI’s and L-Tryptophan both work to alleviate depression however, L-Tryptophan doesn’t appear to have the side effects. That might not be surprising since L-Tryptophan is a normal component in the brain and body.
It’s important to take a look at how serotonin is made. You have to consider that SSRI’s are drugs that bind to the uptake channel for serotonin. They are not normally found in the body. On the other hand, the precursors 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan are apart of metabolic pathways that generate serotonin. Basically the pathway starts with L-Tryptophan and an enzyme comes in and converts it to 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan. Then another enzyme comes in and coverts 5-HTP to serotonin. Also Vitamin B6 is required to convert both L-tryptophan and 5-HTP to serotonin. In fact, it’s really that simple. So why not use a metabolic pathway to achieve greater production of serotonin. That way you don’t have to worry about any side effects. Bear in mind you don’t want to over dose on L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP but that’s true of everything. Not enough and too much is not good. Information is available on appropriate levels of serotonin for optimal brain function and New MoodTM has made sure to put the right amount in. So let’s take a look at the individual ingredients briefly and see what they do.
5-HTP is made from L-Tryptophan and then is converted to serotonin. Bear in mind that L-Tryptophan is found in food but 5-HTP is not. So taking a supplement with 5-HTP provides more substrate to make more serotonin. Clinical studies have demonstrated that addition of 5-HTP to the diet increases serotonin levels and works as well as SSRI’s. In treating depression.
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that you must take in your diet. It’s not only used to make serotonin but found in many proteins through out the body so it is important for protein synthesis as well. Clinical studies have demonstrated that administration of L-Tryptophan to patients elevated mood, improved sleep and enhanced memory.
Magnesium has many functions including maintaining membrane potential, cofactor on enzymes, cell adhesion as in the immune system and exporting/importing substrates across cell membranes. It’s found in every cell and has been useful in managing depression in the brain. Magnesium deficiencies are quite common today due to poor soils and water lacking the mineral. Clinical trials have demonstrated that oral administration of magnesium significantly reduced headaches, suicidal thoughts and insomnia. A chelate of magnesium is used because magnesium is not easily absorbed through cell membranes. Magnesium gluconate or magnesium aspartate are often used.
Vitamin B6 is important for the processing of amino acids, production of neurotransmitters and lower levels of homocysteine. Lowering homocysteine levels reduces your risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Vitamin B3 is also known as Niacin (nicotinic acid) and this essential B vitamin has many functions as well from lowering bad cholesterol, maintain healthy cardiovascular system, inhibit migraine headaches and reduce depression. Increasing cerebral blood flow has been attributed to Vitamin B3s anti-depressant properties.
Chamomile contains Apigenin amongst other things. Apigenin binds to the benzodiazepine receptor on GABA A channels. What this does is allows the GABA A channel to remain open longer. This is a chloride channel and chloride happens to have a negative charge on it. As chloride ions flow into the cell it makes the cell more negative on the inside. This makes it difficult to activate the cell when excitatory inputs come in. So, essentially you have turned that neuron off for a while. GABA itself binds to GABA A channels as well and does the same thing only it doesn’t open the channel as long. GABA is the most abundant inhibitory transmitter in the brain and responsible for keeping the brain calm. That’s what makes a hot cup of Chamomile tea so relaxing.
Although Vitamin D3 can be taken in the diet and we can make it by exposing our skin to sunlight, the medical community is now telling us that we don’t get enough. It’s important for bone, brain and immunity. Vitamin D3 is known to have an effect on mood and cognition.
Traditionally, passion flower has been known to help treat depression, anxiety, seizures and sleeping disorders. Passion flower contains flavinoids which have powerful antioxidant properties and are neuroprotective. This botanical is believed to elevate the levels of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is an inhibitory transmitter known to have a calming effect on the brain.
Valerian root is known to contain isovextin which is known to be effective in the treatment of anxiety and sleeping problems.
Lemon balm has been known to treat depression and improve memory, focus and concentration. Lemon balm contains eugenol, tannins, terpenes, rosemarinic acid, quercitrin, rutin and gallic acid and much more. Wha’t important here is that rosemarinic acid increases the production of GABA and inhibits acetylcholinesterase. That’s a double whammy. Lemon balm calms the brain by increasing the production of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft. This allows acetylcholine to remain in the cleft longer enhancing short term memory hence better memory, focus and concentration.