Health/Life

How to increase dopamine naturally: complete guide

how to increase dopamine

Outlines how to increase dopamine naturally, how the hormone is stimulated and processed in the body, the best foods, and consequences of a dopamine deficiency.

A balanced dopamine level is important for drive and motivation and is therefore crucial for a good quality of life. In cooperation with serotonin, dopamine forms the so-called happiness hormones. If the dopamine level is too low due to constant stress, an acute infection or a bad and unhealthy diet, this can have negative consequences for your body. In addition, existing addictions such as nicotine, alcohol and drugs can also negatively affect dopamine levels.

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How to increase serotonin naturally: the complete guide

In order to increase dopamine levels, you will need to change your lifestyle and diet. In this article you will learn how to increase dopamine levels in order to come to a normal value. You will also find out more about what you should know about the hormone dopamine.

The essentials in brief

  • Dopamine is an important messenger substance in the brain (neurotransmitter). It conveys drive and motivation increasing effects.
  • Manic and Parkinson-like symptoms are the consequences of a too low dopamine level.
  • Dopamine levels can be increased through a good lifestyle in the form of a good diet, plenty of exercise and no addictions to nicotine, alcohol or drugs.

Definition: what is dopamine?

Dopamine occurs naturally in the body – as an important messenger substance in the brain (neurotransmitter). It conveys effects that increase motivation and drive. If the level of the messenger substance is too low or too high, then mania-shaped or Parkinson-like symptoms can occur. In addition, the active ingredient dopamine belongs to the group of catecholamines and is used therapeutically in states of shock.

How to increase dopamine levels: What you should know

Increasing dopamine raises a number of questions, so there is some background information that you should learn about how to boost dopamine. We want to answer these frequently asked questions for you in the following paragraphs.

Which organ produces dopamine?

Dopamine is formed in (postganglionic sympathetic) nerve endings and in the adrenal medulla as a precursor of noradrenaline.

How does dopamine work in the body?

Dopamine effects in the central nervous system

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is used in the brain to enable nerve cells to communicate with one another. In certain “circuits” it conveys positive emotional experiences (“reward effect”), which is why it is considered a happiness hormone like serotonin. However, dopamine has more of a long-term effect of increasing motivation and promoting drive than serotonin.

In Parkinson’s disease, there is a lack of dopamine in the central nervous system. Muscle stiffness (rigor), tremors (tremor) and a slowing down of movements up to immobility (akinesia) are among the typical Parkinson’s symptoms. Because dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, it cannot be supplied directly to compensate for the deficiency in the brain. Instead, analogs (dopamine agonists) of the messenger substance and precursors (L-DOPA) are administered, which can reach the site of action in the brain.

The dopamine concentration is usually increased in certain areas of the brain in schizophrenic or other psychotic patients. For this, inhibitors of the messenger substance (dopamine antagonists) are used. They belong to the neuroleptics or antipsychotics.

There is an increased dopamine effect after the consumption of certain drugs such as cocaine, as these prevent the reuptake of the released messenger substance in the nerve cells (dopamine reuptake inhibitors). Because the brain connects drug use with a reward effect, which primarily explains the addictive effects of cocaine and other drugs. Clinical symptoms of psychosis often emerge even after excessive drug use ( 1 ) .

Dopamine effects in other parts of the body

Dopamine can also increase blood flow to certain parts of the body (such as the kidneys). Therefore, it is used for low blood pressure, kidney failure and shock.

However, its use is on the decline as norepinephrine and adrenaline active ingredients have minor side effects .

When is dopamine released?

In the short term, dopamine is released in the event of unexpected, subjectively positive results and provides a reward effect.

Dopamine is released, for example, when long-term goals are achieved and a desire or the immediate prospect of reward motivates you to take action.

For example, one study tested how food intake is controlled in the body. The study participants were offered milkshakes and at the same time the release of dopamine in the brain was measured.

The results showed that as soon as the participants taste the shake in their mouth, the brain releases the first dopamine molecules. And as soon as the drink reaches the stomach, dopamine is released again.

When is dopamine determined and what are dopamine reference values?

If the doctor suspects a tumor that is producing catecholamines in an uncontrolled manner, the levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine in the urine are measured. However, the dopamine level differs from person to person and therefore the measurement is not part of the standard examination. An increased value only indicates a tumor.

AGEDOPAMINE NORMAL VALUE
up to 1 year≤ 85.0 µg / d
1 to 2 years≤ 140.0 µg / d
2 to 4 years≤ 260.0 µg / d
4 to 18 years≤ 450.0 µg / d
Adults≤620 µg / d

How to increase dopamine naturally with diet and lifestyle

The body regulates dopamine levels, but there are a few diet and lifestyle parameters that can help our bodies increase dopamine levels naturally.

A balanced diet with sufficient vitamins, protein, probiotics, minerals and a moderate amount of saturated fat can help produce the dopamine you need.

In addition, sufficient exercise, a high quality of sleep, effective instrumental music, meditation units, warming hours of sunshine and binaural sounds help to positively influence your dopamine level.

How can you increase or decrease dopamine?

If the body’s dopamine level is abnormally high or low, medication can help to compensate for the deficiency. For example, the so-called L-DOPA (levodopa) compensates for the existing dopamine deficit in Parkinson’s disease in the patient’s brain as a transmitter replacement.

In addition, there are also dopamine reuptake inhibitors that give those affected a better quality of life. For example, MAO-B inhibitors (monoamine oxidase B inhibitors) block the breakdown of dopamine in the brain ( 10 ) .

At the moment, research is still being conducted into whether an increased intake of tyrosine through food can increase the body’s own dopamine. For example, the food beetroot is said to have a lot of this amino acid and have a positive effect on diseases such as depression. However, it is still unclear how strong the interactions between diet, dopamine and mental health are.

If your dopamine balance becomes unbalanced due to stress, lack of sleep or physical strain, you can bring your body’s dopamine level back into balance with the help of relaxation exercises, meditation or yoga.

Furthermore, you can also increase your dopamine levels by taking the right nutritional supplements:

  • L-theanine  increases a number of other neurotransmitters in your brain in addition to your dopamine levels. A good source of this amino acid is green tea. In addition, L-theanine is a popular nootropic that can improve your mood and focus.
  •  Curcumin  is a component of turmeric and can increase the amount of dopamine in your brain.
  • Ginkgo biloba  can also boost your dopamine levels.
  • Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is a building block of dopamine and can therefore cause your dopamine production to increase.

What can you do about dopamine deficiency?

The same measures as in the previous two questions make sense if you are dopamine deficient.

In addition, dopamine-like substances are preferred for younger patients. And with additional medication, the premature depletion of the messenger substance is prevented.

After drug abuse, the deficit does not need to be corrected with medication, as the relative dopamine deficiency improves after withdrawal and the receptors recover .

What are the consequences of a dopamine deficiency?

Dopamine deficiency means a decreased level of dopamine in the blood. Dopamine is an important messenger substance in the body (neurotransmitter) and therefore it has different consequences, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dopamine is one of the most important transmitters in the brain, because it is in it that the so-called dopaminergic nerve cells (neurons) are formed from the amino acid tyrosine and ensure targeted control of movements. Due to the dopamine deficiency, the movement impulses are only passed on very slowly or not at all and the following symptoms arise:

  • Tremor (tremor)
  • Muscle stiffness (rigor)
  • Slowing down of voluntary motor skills (bradykinesia)
  • Unsteady gait and stance (postural instability)

A dopamine deficiency in the so-called reward system of the brain and in other important brain functions can have further devastating consequences. It is important not only for memory, but also for mental health. Drive, attention, and motivation all suffer when the dopamine receptors are no longer adequately stimulated. Similar symptoms also occur with drug abuse if the receptors have previously been flooded with dopamine and therefore react less sensitively afterwards:

  • depression
  • Attention deficit
  • Listlessness and listlessness (anhedonia)

In addition, dopamine leads to widening of the blood vessels outside the brain in the abdomen and kidneys and promotes blood flow. The sympathetic is also regulated and stimulated. Therefore, possible consequences of a severe dopamine deficiency in these areas are:

  • Constipation (constipation)
  • Voiding disorders
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • uncontrolled sweating 

What are the long-term consequences of deficiency?

In Parkinson’s disease, dopaminergic neurons die and, according to current studies, they cannot be stopped, which means that the clinical picture is increasingly worsened and other symptoms are added. Movement disorders initially occur, followed by depressive moods and dementia. Special drugs have to compensate for the dopamine deficiency in the affected patient.

In addition, it is believed that dopamine deficiency is also responsible for attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to current studies, it is still unclear to what extent the administration of artificial dopamine can help the affected patients.

When is dopamine used?

Dopamine is not used directly for neurological indications (such as Parkinson’s disease), but either analogues or precursors thereof, as these can cross the blood-brain barrier.

In states of shock or threatened states of shock, the active ingredient is used to stabilize the circulation. These can occur, for example:

  • Heart failure and heart attack
  • severe infections
  • sudden, severe drop in blood pressure ( 1 )

Which food contains a lot of dopamine?

The foods and drinks that contain a lot of the serotonin precursor trytophan are:

  • Nuts, seeds like pumpkin seeds, whole grains
  • Chocolate (preferably bitter varieties with a high cocoa content)
  • fish
  • beef
  • Bananas
  • Mushrooms
  • Beans
  • Quark
  • Hard cheese
  • Green tea

High quality proteins for more dopamine

Every protein is made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. There are a total of 21 different proteinogenic amino acids. Our body can produce some of these itself, others we have to take in through our food. One of these amino acids is tyrosine.

It occurs as a non-essential amino acid in most proteins and is a starting substance for the production of dopamine. The biosynthesis of tyrosine often takes place from the essential amino acid phenylalanine.

Both are naturally found in protein-rich foods like  eggs, dairy products, legumes, turkey, and beef. Studies have shown that increasing these two amino acids in our diet can increase dopamine levels in the brain, which helps us focus and sharpens our memory.

Similarly, a small amount of phenylalanine and tyrosine can lead to a decrease in dopamine levels in our body. In order to adequately support our dopamine levels, it is advisable to increase the intake of the two amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine through protein-rich foods.

Can exercise increase dopamine?

When we do sport, dopamine is released and the more we exercise, the more dopamine is released.

Everyone knows it: the balanced, soothing feeling after an exuberant sports session. We feel fit, motivated and elated. Endorphins are “to blame” for this. Because after only 10 minutes of aerobic activity, an improvement in mood can be seen.

And after at least 20 minutes it is at its highest. A three-month study found that an hour of yoga six times a week significantly increased dopamine levels.  Interestingly, another study with half an hour of moderate running did not significantly increase dopamine levels.

Dopamine is released during activity and makes us more alert, more focused, more concentrated and drives us to peak performance and ensures that we have fun in sport.

How to increase dopamine: quality sleep

Sleep is essential for a functional body. Dopamine plays a crucial role here and can affect the quality of your sleep and your waking state.

As soon as it is time to get up, our body releases dopamine. Conversely, the dopamine level drops as soon as evening falls. However, if we are exposed to a lack of sleep, this natural rhythm can be disturbed, which negatively affects our sleep and wakefulness.

When we are forced to stay awake through the night, the availability of dopamine receptors in the brain is drastically reduced until the next morning.  The reason for this is the fact that small amounts of dopamine make it easier to fall asleep and thus compensate for the sleep deficit.

A low dopamine level can also lead to decreased concentration and coordination disorders.  In order to be more alert and productive during the day, regular, high-quality sleep is recommended. 

Sunlight as a dopamine booster

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that makes people feel sad or depressed during the winter season if they are not exposed to enough sunlight.

A study of 68 healthy adults found that those who received the most exposure to the sun in the previous 30 days had the highest densities of dopamine receptors in the reward and movement regions of their brain. Sunlight not only promotes the production of vitamin D, but also the production of dopamine.

What are the benefits of dopamine fasting?

Dopamine fasting means lowering one’s expectations, preventing stimulation and slowing down the reward system. The psychologist Sepah from the University of Calfornia in San Francisco is the inventor of dopamine fasting and is convinced that this is the only way the brain can really recover from the stimuli.

How to increase dopamine levels with drugs

Yes, there are drugs that increase dopamine, but only doctors and clinics are allowed to buy dopamine. You cannot have a prescription or any other form of dopamine prescribed for you.

However, dopmain can be ingested through meals (such as fruit and vegetables such as potatoes, bananas, avocados and broccoli), but the effect is negligible, since the active ingredient is rendered ineffective shortly after ingestion in the intestine.

What are the side effects of dopamine in medical use?

Dopamine is being used less and less because it has a comparatively high potential for side effects. It is injected in a state of shock and often (in every tenth to one hundredth patient) headaches, shortness of breath, cardiac arrhythmias, nausea and vomiting, a sharp drop in blood pressure or an excessive increase in blood pressure.

An increased release of dopamine is produced by pheochromocytomas. This leads to sweats, headaches with dizziness, and high blood pressure.These drugs include not only illegal addictive substances such as amphetamines but also nicotine and alcohol.

Psychosis and schizophrenia are also associated with an excess of dopamine. That is why there are drugs that block certain dopamine receptors in order to improve symptoms. Drugs can prevent the re-uptake of dopamine in cells, and then the value also increases.

Conclusion

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is used in the brain to enable nerve cells to communicate with one another. It conveys effects that increase motivation and drive. Since dopamine induces positive emotional experiences (“reward effect”) in certain “circuits”, it is also known as the happiness hormone.

A balanced diet with sufficient vitamins, protein, probiotics, minerals and a moderate amount of saturated fat can help produce the dopamine you need. In addition, sufficient exercise, a high quality of sleep, effective instrumental music, meditation units, warming hours of sunshine and binaural sounds help to positively influence your dopamine level.

Dopamine deficiency means a decreased level of dopamine in the blood. Dopamine is an important messenger substance in the body (neurotransmitter) and therefore it has different consequences such as Parkinson’s disease, tremors (tremor), muscle stiffness (rigidity), slowing down of voluntary motor skills (bradykinesia), unsteadiness of walking and standing (postural instability), depression, Disturbances in attention, listlessness and listlessness (anhedonia), constipation (constipation), bladder emptying disorders, swallowing disorders and uncontrolled sweating.