Synthesised from the amino acid tyrosine, dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in motor control, attention, pleasure and motivation, as well as sleep, memory and cognition (1-3).
It’s also known as the ‘pleasure chemical’ or ‘motivation hormone’.
Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the ‘reward circuit’.
Operating via several brain structures, this system is responsible for rewarding the accomplishment of vital functions (eating, drinking, reproducing…) by delivering a feeling of pleasure (4-5).
The reward circuit thus reinforces certain types of behavior, motivating us to return to what is good for us.
However, dopamine also plays a role in the mechanism of addiction. Smoking, alcohol and heroin all have the ability to increase dopamine in the brain’s synapses and thus encourage the user to repeat this kind of harmful behavior. The same goes for addictions to gambling or ‘likes’ on social media.
We can sometimes suffer a shortfall in our levels of the ‘motivation hormone’. There are several potential reasons why we might experience a dopamine deficit:
A lack of dopamine usually manifests in one or more of the following symptoms:
The first thing to do for a natural dopamine boost is to engage in some kind of sports activity. Exercise is an excellent way of raising dopamine levels naturally.
In a similar vein, it’s a good idea to deliberately put yourself outside your comfort zone (by taking cold showers for example) as it will help you move forward.
Numerous studies have shown that the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) helps to lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and increase those of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins (the happy hormones) (8-9).
Likewise, massage, meditation and stroking a pet can all reduce stress and thus help restore adequate dopamine levels.
Last but not least, restful nights and exposure to the sun, are also known to boost dopamine.
To correct low dopamine levels, you should try and eat more tyrosine-rich foods, as dopamine is synthesised from this amino acid. Make sure you regularly include eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, green vegetables, fresh fruit and pulses in your diet.
To boost your intake, you can also take the tyrosine supplement N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, which offers maximum absorption and bioavailability.
Vitamins B6, B12 and C are also cofactors of dopamine and should therefore be consumed at sufficient levels to support its action (10). Ensure too that you obtain enough omega-3.
For neurodegenerative problems that cause dopamine levels to fall, doctors routinely prescribe a treatment containing the neurotransmitter precursor L-DOPA. One of the best natural sources of L-DOPA is an Ayurvedic plant called Mucuna pruriens.
Another approach is to inhibit the compound that breaks down dopamine in the brain, the enzyme monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B), concentrations of which increase with age. Studies have shown that a type of oat is able to inhibit this enzyme. This plant (an extract of which features in the supplement Natural Dopamine Support) is thus recognized for contributing to hormone balance by supporting dopamine levels in the brain (12-13).
Just remember that certain supplements can interact with medicines. We’d therefore encourage you to seek medical advice before beginning any supplementation.
Mucuna Pruriens has a fascinating biochemical profile containing many active ingredients$29.00
Natural Dopamine Support is made with an extract of wild green oat$32.00
Methylcobalamin is a highly active form of vitamin B12$19.00
Our N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, NALT supplement, is the most bioavailable form of the amino acid L-Tyrosine$16.00
Super Omega 3 is a 100% naturally concentrated omega-3 fish oil supplement (EPA and DHA)$25.00
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