Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.” The brain uses Neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause other adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitters levels can be depleted many ways. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. Stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, genetic predisposition, drugs (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine usage can cause these levels to be out of optimal range.
Some people confuse hormones and Neurotransmitters due to their similarities. A hormone, by definition, is a compound produced by the glands of the endocrine system and released into the bloodstream where it can find its target cells at some distance from its actual site of release. A Neurotransmitter on the other hand is a compound released from a nerve terminal. When an electrical impulse generated by the Neurotransmitter travels to the end of a nerve cell, it stimulates the terminal of this cell to secrete a chemical signaling molecule at a special junction between nerve cells called a synapse. These nerve terminals are in ensure rapid and specific delivery of the signal. This mode of transmission of Neurotransmitters are in general much faster than the endocrine system’s transmission of hormones.
Similar to hormone unbalances a minor increase or decrease in Neurotransmitter fluctuation can cause major changes in our cells and ultimately, our whole body. As we age, Neurotransmitter production begins to decrease. When this decline occurs it has a negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Not only are Neurotransmitters important for our physical health but they also play a significant role in our mental health. When our Neurotransmitters are deficient and out of balance a number of emotional symptoms are likely to occur – depression, aggressiveness, anxiety, panic attacks, food and alcohol cravings, irritability and insomnia, stress, mental exhaustion, fatigue, low sex drive and low motivation, alertness, concentration and attention – all similar to the symptoms of hormonal unbalances.
The human brain is very capable of automatically manufacturing the quantity of Neurotransmitters it needs if it is given the proper nutrients from foods to do so. However, normal diet does not supply enough of the raw materials the brain needs to manufacture the needed level of Neurotransmitters. Additionally, reduced hormone levels, stress, worry, chemical use, poor nutrition, pollution and other factors of modern life are known to deplete Neurotransmitter levels.