Do you love hugs?
According to national hugging day, the answer is probably yes! But have you ever wondered why hugs feel so good?
The answer lies in oxytocin, the "love hormone."
Oxytocin is sometimes called the love hormone because it's responsible for feelings of love and connection.
In this blog post, we will discuss the ins and outs of oxytocin and how you can increase your oxytocin levels to benefit from its positive impacts on wellbeing.
What Exactly Is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream. It has many different effects throughout the body including reproduction and stress, therefore impacting social behaviour. Oxytocin production is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. This mechanism allows the release of oxytocin hormone when a trigger occurs which then causes an action in the body – actions can signal more production of oxytocin until the action is complete, for example breastfeeding.
Understanding oxytocin will help you take better care of your health and lead you toward a better understanding of how your body functions.
The Effects Of Oxytocin
Oxytocin has been shown to have a wide range of effects in humans, including:
- Increasing love and affectionate behaviours
- Decreasing stress levels
- Reducing anxiety and fear responses
- Promoting social bonding and affiliation
- Enhancing sexual arousal and orgasm in both men and women
- Facilitating lactation and maternal behaviour
Symptoms Of A Lack Of Oxytocin
Some symptoms of a lack of oxytocin hormone can include:
- Feeling isolated or lonely
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling unloved
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Feelings of low mood and negativity
- A lack of love, empathy, or affection for others
- Stress and anxiety
- Low sexual desire
Fast Ways to Increase Your Oxytocin Levels
- For dog lovers, hugging or stroking your furry friends will increase oxytocin levels in the brain. Playing with dogs has been found to have an even greater effect on oxytocin release than just petting them, so try a game of fetch with your pup. If you don't have a furry friend maybe this is a sign to add a bundle of joy to the family this year.
- Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained through your diet. Your body uses tryptophan to help make melatonin and serotonin. Studies show low levels of Tryptophan cab reduce serotonin and oxytocin levels. Foods such as turkey, nuts, seeds, brown rice, chicken breast and watermelon are good natural sources tryptophan.
- Omega-rich nutrition such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and salmon can also help to increase oxytocin levels. Having some porridge in the mornings this winter? Why not add some flaxseeds to your hot breakfast to get you in the loving mood.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, and Swiss chard. And if you are a dark chocolate fan, you'll be happy to know that it is also a source of magnesium which helps with your oxytocin receptors.
- Meditation, yoga, and exercise have been found to increase oxytocin levels as well. Try doing some stretches or meditating for even five minutes before you head off to work in the morning it can make all the difference!
- Hug someone! Oxytocin is released when people snuggle up or bond socially. Even a 20-second hug can release enough oxytocin to make change your mood. Make World Hugging Day Everyday!
What Vitamins and Minerals Can Help Increase Oxytocin Levels?
Vitamin D is well known as the 'happy vitamin'. It is produced in the body when our skin comes into contact with sunlight. Vitamin D has numerous roles in the body including acting as a prohormone to oxytocin, serotonin and vasopressin. Prohormones help activate hormones. Because of the lack of sunlight in the UK, it is recommended to take Vitamin D supplement. Nutrition Geeks have three options starting from just £3.49 for a 6 month supply.
Researchers know that Vitamin C is a cofactor in the production of oxytocin, and the synthesis of oxytocin is dependent upon Vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables such as green peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. Nutrition Geeks will be launching a Vitamin C supplement in 2022 to support your nutritional needs!
Magnesium is used in the body for muscle and nerve function and many other processes in our body. It is also a receptor for oxytocin which helps it to function. Many processed foods are low in magnesium and so it is important to include magnesium-rich foods in our diets. Magnesium rich foods include spinach, pumpkin, avocado and dark chocolate. Nutrition Geeks are launching a unique, research-backed Magnesium supplement in 2022!
So, there you have it! Ways to increase oxytocin levels through nutrition and other activities. By following some of these simple tips, you can help your body to feel happier, more connected with others, and less stressed! And who wouldn't want that, especially in January!