When studying people with clinical depression, researchers found that their brains had significantly lower levels of dopamine. This chemical plays an integral role in the regulation of numerous brain functions including memory, mood, attention, motivation and cognition.
Normally, your dopamine production is regulated effectively by your nervous system. But factors such as medical conditions and lifestyle can decrease dopamine levels. This can result in poor memory, a lack of enjoyment and motivation, and an inability to concentrate or get things done which, of course, is highly detrimental to your quality of life.
Fortunately, there are a number of natural supplements available that help regulate your dopamine levels. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs that are designed for the same purpose, natural supplements are generally free of the adverse effects that dopamine-boosting drugs have on your health.
Researchers and physicians have seen success with these natural supplements, effectively helping patients who suffer from anxiety, depression and other common conditions associated with dopamine deficiency.
What is Dopamine and What Releases Dopamine?
Let’s take a closer look at what dopamine is and answer the question: “where is dopamine produced?”
In scientific terms, dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical released by nerve cells. It sends signals to other nerve cells in your brain through dopamine pathways. Dopamine also serves a number of purposes outside of your central nervous system such as reducing insulin production and protecting intestinal mucosa.
Dopamine is like a natural drug that your body produces as a means of motivating you to seek out rewards and work harder towards achieving your goals. As you take steps towards new goals such as a job promotion or weight loss milestone, dopamine is released, giving you a surge of energy and satisfaction.
Without sufficient amounts of dopamine, it becomes more difficult to stay productive. Furthermore, your ability to experience pleasure from common activities such as hobbies, exercise and music is reduced – something we definitely don’t want happening to us.
When is Dopamine Released?
Aside from supplements and natural production, your body obtains dopamine from a number of other sources. Most noteworthy is the extensive list of foods that increase dopamine. Foods rich in tyrosine are ideal, as your body requires tyrosine in order to create dopamine.
Tyrosine is found in many health foods, including but not limited to eggs, beans, avocado, chicken, fish, bananas and almonds. Activities that release dopamine include regular exercise, meditation, sufficient sleep and music. Of course, the same is true for less healthy means of obtaining dopamine such as sugar, nicotine, caffeine and fatty foods.
However, aside from the countless other adverse health effects that products such as cigarettes and energy drinks have, the dopamine boost they provide is short, reducing your dopamine production in the long term. This is why we need to stay away from these sources of dopamine and focus on natural supplements.
How to Increase Dopamine Receptors and Regulation of Dopamine
While dopamine deficiency is clearly no good, too much dopamine also has adverse health effects. Your heart rate and blood pressure can end up being too high and emotional symptoms such as aggression will kick in. Luckily, it is possible to increase dopamine naturally. There are a number of foods that decrease dopamine and contribute to regulating dopamine levels.
You should aim at having a balanced diet that contains a rich amount of protein and carbs. Carbohydrates contribute to soothing your mind state by decreasing dopamine levels. Amino acid-absorbing fats found in dairy products have also been found to normalize dopamine levels.
Excessive alcohol and narcotic consumption should naturally be avoided as this also greatly affects proper dopamine production. The same can be said about constant stress and a lack of sleep. Low levels of Vitamin B, zinc and iron have also been found to aggravate dopamine levels, so ensure that you’re getting enough of those in your diet.
If you’re wondering how to increase dopamine levels with drugs, it’s recommended to avoid going down this route, as the way they affect your dopamine receptors, as well as your overall mental and physical health doesn’t justify their usage in the long term. Natural supplements and a balanced diet are by far the best ways to boost your dopamine.
Now that we have a clearer picture of what dopamine is and how it works, let’s take a look at the best supplements that you can use to increase dopamine levels.
Vitamonk’s Dopify supplement is packed with a number of ingredients that contribute to increasing dopamine uptake. This includes the L-tyrosine we mentioned earlier, which is a dopamine precursor. Additionally, Dopify contains precise levels of L-Theanine, Sam-e, Uridine Monophosphate, Mucuna Pruriens, Turmeric and L-phenylalanine.
These ingredients work together to boost your mood, make you more productive and promote a positive mindset. This dopamine supplement is free from allergens such as nuts, dairy and gluten. There are no artificial fillers or preservatives and you won’t find corn syrup, BPA, stearates or metallic colorants, which are often found in lower quality supplements.
The ideal balance of ingredients makes Dopify a great supplement to increase dopamine. Just like their other products, Dopify is formulated by licensed doctors to the strictest of standards.
Unlike prescription drugs that are supposed to boost dopamine levels, a natural supplement like this doesn’t come with any adverse health effects. It’s highly affordable and discount options are available if you opt for a subscription.
Commonly used in Eastern Europe and Asia as a traditional medicine, Rhodiola rosea or “golden root” is known for its positive effects on mood and performance. It’s an effective antidepressant that works on your nervous system, regulating dopamine levels and supporting its reproduction.
This results in a reduction of anxiety, depression and fatigue. Rhodiola extract should contain 3% rosavins and at least 1% salidrosides. The recommended dosage is 170mg, twice per day. It comes highly recommended for those dealing with mental and physical stress, as Rhodiola extract has been known to reduce these symptoms.
You might not have heard of these tropical beans before, but Mucuna Pruriens are a popular dietary supplement found in certain parts of Africa and Asia. They’re usually processed into a dried powder and have been found to effectively increase dopamine levels in both humans and animals.
What makes Mucuna Pruriens stand out is their effectiveness at reducing the loss of dopamine levels associated with Parkinson’s disease. Studies have found the supplement to be nearly as effective as some prescribed medications for Parkinson’s.
Aside from this, Mucuna Pruriens contains a compound called L-dopa, which is an amino acid your brain needs in order to produce dopamine. This helps make it an ideal supplement for those without Parkinson’s as well, acting as an antidepressant and stimulating dopamine production.
Research on the effects of magnesium as a natural dopamine agonist is fairly limited, but there is evidence to suggest that magnesium deficiency contributes to an increased risk of depression and insufficient dopamine levels. For example, a study on the effects of magnesium on mice showed that it boosted dopamine and reduced depression.
Aside from its potential effects on your mood, magnesium is essential for a healthy body and mind. Be sure to maintain a healthy intake of magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is found in foods such as leafy greens, fruits, seafood such as mackerel and tuna, along with nuts, seeds and legumes.
Probiotics, also known as the good gut bacteria, are essential for proper bodily function. Harmful gut bacteria decrease dopamine production, while probiotics are said to have the opposite effect. This makes them ideal for those who have mood disorders such as ADHD, as probiotics are an effective mood-booster.
A study done on people with irritable bowel syndrome has found that subjects who received probiotics experienced a decrease in symptoms of depression versus those who took a placebo. Aside from nutritional supplements, you can also add more probiotics to your diet through foods such as fermented dairy products and pickles. Watch out though, if you have high histamine levels, then you will need to take special histamine-free probiotics to reduce upset stomach issues.
Ginkgo Biloba is a plant found in China that has been used for centuries to treat a number of health conditions. However, research on its effects on humans is fairly limited but studies done on rats have seen the plant increase long term dopamine levels. Furthermore, cognitive function and memory was improved.
This is said to happen by reducing oxidative stress, which would in turn increase dopamine production. While further research is needed in order to fully understand its effects, the benefits Ginkgo biloba is said to have for humans gives the plant a promising future as a dopamine-boosting supplement.
One study done on mice who ingested carvacrol found the ingredient to increase dopamine production and subsequently work as an antidepressant. Carvacrol is a prominent active ingredient in oregano oil, which contributes to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Studies have also shown that it induces positive behavioral effects.
We all know that green tea has a plethora of health benefits ranging from improved brain function to reducing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and certain cancers. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid which increases certain neurotransmitters in your brain, including those responsible for creating dopamine.
This subsequently gives green tea the ability to improve cognitive function and have a mood-boosting effect. Studies have shown that frequent consumption of green tea, both as a supplement and beverage, increases dopamine levels and decreases symptoms of depression.
Many studies have been done on the effects of fish oil on our mental health, although most of it through animals, thus giving us an incomplete picture of what exactly it does for humans in terms of mood and cognitive function. However, we do know that fish oil contains EPA and DHA, which when taken regularly, can improve dopamine regulation.
A study done on rats who were given a fish oil-rich diet found an impressive 40% increase in dopamine levels at the frontal cortex of the brain while also improving dopamine binding capabilities. Even if research on mood is inconclusive, fish oil should play a role in your diet, as it has a number of other positive health effects.
Berberine, found in certain plants and herbs, is used in traditional Chinese medicine for its purported ability to treat a number of common illnesses. Studies done on the effects of berberine on animals found that it may help reduce depression and increase dopamine levels. However, its effects on humans is not yet conclusive.
Ginseng is another popular medicinal Chinese plant that’s available in a variety of forms including tea, pills, powder and the raw or steamed root. Studies done on animals have found that ginseng increases dopamine levels, contributing to enhanced mood, memory and behavior.
The improvements in cognitive function are said to be derived from ginsenosides, a key component found in ginseng. An interesting study was done on Korean children with ADHD, where they were given 2000mg of red ginseng daily for two months. Improvements in attention span were found, suggesting that ginseng does indeed improve cognitive function.
Found in turmeric, curcumin is an active ingredient that is said to increase dopamine levels and decrease depression. Studies have found that even small doses of around 1 gram have improvements in the mood of people with major depressive disorder. Curcumin has also been found to increase dopamine levels in mice.
Aside from these natural ingredients, there are also a number of vitamins that increase dopamine, namely Vitamins B6, B9 and B12. Vitamin B6 is a dopamine precursor, supporting proper brain function and regulating your dopamine levels. Vitamin B9, also known as folate, has a similar effect but works differently to B6.
Vitamin B9 partly contributes to the production of tyrosine, which we know is a necessary amino acid for creating dopamine. Folic acid deficiencies are fairly common, which could be contributing to the presence of depression and fatigue in some people.
There’s also Vitamin B12, which regulates dopamine levels by aiding in its production, along with a number of other important brain chemicals. Unlike most vitamins, large doses of B12 don’t have any adverse health effects. This makes Vitamin B12 a safe means of increasing dopamine levels.
B Vitamins can be obtained from a number of supplements and dietary sources. Foods that contain Vitamin B include whole grains, poultry, eggs, dairy products, fruits such as citrus and avocados, seeds, nuts and dark, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.
What to Consider When Taking Dopamine Supplements
As we touched on earlier, dopamine supplements are generally free from the adverse side effects that their pharmaceutical counterparts have. However, there are certain potential symptoms that you should keep an eye out for upon starting with any supplement.
This is especially applicable if you have a medical condition or are already using other medication. Possible side effects of dopamine supplements include digestive issues such as stomach pain, diarrhea and nausea. Certain supplements such as ginkgo and caffeine have been found to induce headaches, heart palpitations and dizziness.
Be sure to consult your doctor or a professional before going through with any dopamine supplements that you’re not particularly knowledgeable of. That said, the low levels of toxicity found in the majority of supplements mentioned above shouldn’t result in any health complications through moderate doses.
The Importance of Lifestyle and Dopamine
While supplements are a great way to increase and regulate dopamine levels, one should never underestimate the importance of a healthy lifestyle and its effect on mood and cognitive function. Before going through with any supplement, it would be wise to focus on improving other aspects of your lifestyle that influence dopamine production.
This includes getting enough sleep, exercise, avoiding unhealthy dopamine boosters such as nicotine and caffeine as well as participating in healthy dopamine-boosting activities such as meditation and listening to music. We also know that alcohol and narcotics are extremely detrimental to dopamine production in the long term.
Avoiding stressful situations and keeping adrenaline-boosting activities to a minimum will further improve your dopamine regulation. This, along with a healthy diet will not only have drastic effects on dopamine production, but also your overall wellness.
It’s clear that dopamine is extremely important to our overall wellbeing. If we’re not motivated to achieve and aren’t satisfied by the pleasures of life, things would be rather bleak. Understanding how our body creates dopamine is therefore a significant step towards knowing what creates a better quality of life.
The bottom line here is that under normal circumstances, your body is capable of adequately regulating dopamine levels on its own. It’s only when certain medical conditions and lifestyle choices come into play that dopamine production is disrupted.
This is why it’s important to focus on having a balanced, healthy lifestyle before depending on a supplement. That said, dopamine supplements are worth a try if you’re looking to boost your productivity, motivation and overall work ethic. It may just be the helping hand you need to achieve your goals sooner.