Oxytocin is known as one of the happy hormones. It plays an important part in human bonding and has a positive impact on mood and emotion. Your body produces oxytocin naturally, however if you have low oxytocin, you may notice signs of social isolation, low sex drive, irritability and the inability to feel affectionate. If you think you’re low in this feel-good hormone, we’re letting you in on how to boost oxytocin with our best tips and foods to eat.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone”. It’s produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. It plays an important role in human behaviour, working as a chemical messenger for relationships, trust, recognition, anxiety and sexual arousal. Our bodies produce oxytocin when we’re excited by our sexual partner and when we fall in love. It’s responsible for romantic attachment and parental bonding, and also reduces aggression and stress levels. One of oxytocin’s main functions is to initiate uterine contractions during childbirth as well as to stimulate lactation once the baby is born.
On the flip side, low levels of oxytocin have been linked to depression, including postpartum depression. A lack of oxytocin has also been linked to autism and autistic spectrum disorders, such as Asperger syndrome – a key element of these disorders being poor social functioning. If you feel stressed, tired, lonely and disassociated from your relationships with others, it could be a sign you have low oxytocin.
What Causes Low Oxytocin?
Low oxytocin can be caused by an imbalance in your cortisol and oxytocin levels. Chronic stress boosts your cortisol levels, which can lead to poor sleep, unhealthy cravings, headaches, low sex drive and anxiety. Oxytocin and cortisol oppose each other. When one goes up the other goes down so a rise in cortisol can cause low oxytocin.
Your oxytocin levels also decrease as you age and tend to decline after menopause. This decline in oxytocin can put stress on your relationships and lead to a number of health problems. Hormones, such as estrogen, thyroid hormones and dopamine enhance the production of oxytocin in the body, and since these hormones also decrease with age, this can lower your oxytocin levels.
14 Signs of an Oxytocin Deficiency
1. Social isolation
2. Lack of warmth in social situations
3. Poor communication
4. Absence of smiles
5. Easily disturbed by others
6. Low sex drive
7. Less intense or absence of orgasms
8. Pale skin
9. Colds hands or feet
11. Inability to feel affectionate
12. Craving sugar-rich foods
13. Heightened anxiety
14. Disturbed sleep
How to Boost Oxytocin Naturally
Yoga is a relaxing, stress-reducing activity that can give your brain a serious boost. It relieves stress, fatigue, depression and anxiety and has even been found to have a positive affect on mental disorders. Yoga helps you relax and brings down blood pressure and cortisol levels. A yoga session, along with deep, mindful breathing encourages your body to relax and become compatible with the release of oxytocin. It boosts your mood, improves your sleep and can give you a better quality of life overall.
2. Spend Time with Friends
Positive social interactions, such as spending time with good friends can increase oxytocin levels and make you feel more supported and less alone in the world. Your brain releases more oxytocin during social contact and bonding and socializing can also reduce cortisol levels. The good feelings you experience around your friends can help you feel more positive about your interactions, making you want to spend more time together, and growing your bond stronger.
3. Physical Touch
Physical touch such as getting a massage, cuddling or hugging and having sex can all boost oxytocin. A massage can relax you and relieve pain and stress, while enhancing your mood and feeling of well being. Sexual intimacy can raise your oxytocin levels, improve your mood and make you feel closer and more connected if you’re having sex with a romantic partner. Non-sexual touching like cuddling and hugging can also trigger oxytocin production in your body.
Music can improve your mood, concentration and motivation. It can also help improve the ability to create social bonds. Music is very healing and can have a calming effect on the brain by increasing oxytocin levels. Singing along with music can boost your oxytocin levels even more, so whether you’re a professional singer or love to belt it out in the car or shower, singing along to your favourites can do wonders for your brain.
5. Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Eating foods rich in vitamin C is another way to boost your oxytocin levels. The synthesis of oxytocin is dependent on vitamin C, so it’s a must to get it in your diet. Since vitamin C increases the release of oxytocin, it also improves your mood, reduces anxiety and stress, and increases intercourse frequency. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables including green peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, grapefruits, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage.
Magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of your nervous system and optimal neurotransmitter activity. The oxytocin receptor requires magnesium to function properly, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium on a regular basis. Magnesium also increases dopamine, reduces anxiety and improves sleep. Magnesium-rich sources of food include spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, dark chocolate and bananas. Magnesium supplements can also be helpful.
7. Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon, mackerel, chia seeds, walnuts, edamame and soy beans help increase oxytocin naturally, reduce stress levels and help fight depression and anxiety. Eating foods rich in these dietary fats can help improve oxytocin deficiency symptoms such as social interactions, stress and mood changes.
If you have a feeling your oxytocin levels are low, try these tips and foods to help you feel better!
This post contains affiliate links.
Did you find these tips on how to boost oxytocin helpful? We’d love it if you shared this post on Pinterest!
Looking for more health tips and advice? Make sure to follow our Health Board on Pinterest!