Dopamine imbalances are very common in the United States. Children and adults suffer from dopamine imbalances which impact ones mood, behavior and overall wellbeing. Stress, trauma, diet, medications and sleep can all make this neurotransmitter ineffective. When our dopamine levels are out of balance, it can cause serious physical and mental challenges—but don’t worry, there are natural ways to balance dopamine.
Dopamine plays a big part in depression, addiction, lack of motivation or difficulty focusing and concentrating. Although many of us feel that serotonin is to blame, serotonin and dopamine work together in many ways to try and ward off stress and balance each other. While it’s true that low serotonin is a problem for many people with depression and other mental health issues, researchers have known for years that other neurotransmitters are also involved. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that people with clinical depression also have significantly lower brain levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is our main focus neurotransmitter. When it is either over-excreting or is depleted – we can have focus issues such as not remembering where we put our keys, forgetting what a paragraph said when we just finished reading it or simply daydreaming and not being able to stay on task. Dopamine is also responsible for our drive or desire to get things done – or motivation.
Stimulants such as medications for ADD/ADHD and caffeine cause dopamine to be pushed into the synapse so that focus is improved—temporarily. Unfortunately, stimulating dopamine consistently can cause a depletion of it over time. Dopamine is a special neurotransmitter, because it is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory. Urinary neurotransmitter tests can show what your levels of dopamine and serotonin are so that one can naturally balance the overactive or underactive systems.
The amino acid tyrosine is a major building block of dopamine and must be present for synthesis. Tyrosine can be found in most animal food products as well as in high-grade supplements.
Supplements that Support Dopamine
There are plenty of supplements that increase dopamine naturally. You need to be careful before trying them on your own. Ask your practitioner, test your neurotransmitters or contact your doctor before trying supplements.
- L-Tyrosine and L-theanine have each been found in studies to increase dopamine and/or help balance its function in the brain. They can be used as natural dopamine boosters to improve mood and motivation and to treat deficiency symptoms like depression, fatigue, lack of interest in life, poor memory, and impulsive behaviors. Overtime these amino acids rebuild the dopamine systems leading to long-term balance.
- L-Tyrosine: The essential amino acid tyrosine is a precursor of catecholamine neurotransmitters, including dopamine. It can be absorbed through certain foods if your gut is healthy enough especially from meat, eggs, and fish. Tyrosine forms DOPA, which is then converted to dopamine, and this, in turn, forms norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter related to mood and motivation.By supporting production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, L-tyrosine supplements can enhance mood, sleep, emotional well-being, and cognitive/mental function, especially under situations involving environmental and emotional stress or when dopamine levels require additional support (some people are genetically programmed to make too little dopamine).
- L-theanine: is an amino acid known to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and increase dopamine levels in the brain. Animal studies show that L-theanine also increases brain serotonin and GABA. It has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects, reduces mental and physical stress and leads to improvements in learning and one’s memory.Certain multivitamins can help dopamine too. Minerals and B-vitamins, especially zinc, vitamin B6, and folate, are necessary for synthesis and neurotransmission. These nutrients are often depleted in individuals due to a history of medication use, inadequate diets, excessive stress and toxic environmental exposures, compromising the ability to properly synthesize neurotransmitters like dopamine. A high-potency, high-quality multivitamin/mineral supplement can help replenish these co-factors, enhancing neurotransmitter function and playing a complementary role in supporting emotional wellness. Make sure to check with your practitioner before trying a multivitamin or any amino acids supplements.
- DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA): is an essential amino acid that exists in 2 forms- D & L and can be found naturally in protein-rich foods. As the precursor of L-tyrosine, it promotes the production of catecholamine neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which enhances mood, sleep and cognitive function. When these two forms of phenylalanine are combined they also enhance endorphin activity, which may help relieve certain types of chronic pain. DLPA is a great option for those who may become overstimulated when taking L-tyrosine.Anyone who suffers from frequent headaches, migraines, or has a condition affecting the cardiovascular system, like high blood pressure, should consult with their practitioner before taking l-tyrosine or dl-phenylalanine.
Diet Can Decrease Dopamine Production
Two of the most popular beverages on the planet, coffee and green tea, increase dopamine temporarily. The harmful effects of this temporary boost lead to lower levels of dopamine overtime—they actually reduce your dopamine levels. While these drinks offer significant health benefits, be mindful that caffeine is easily abused and addictive tendencies are a hallmark of low dopamine.
We are a society that’s addicted to dopamine, especially addictive stimulants. Chocolate, caffeine (including energy drinks), sugar and cigarettes alter its production. Other abusive substances such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and prescription medications alter our dopamine balance.
If you feel your dopamine levels or any neurotransmitters are out of balanced please give us a call or look on our website www.Neurogistics.com for more information.
Take Good Care,
Emily Roberts and Neurogistics Staff
For more information on how to balance your neurotransmitters naturally and improve your dopamine please visit www.neurogistics.com
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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