The dopamine naturally produced by your brain makes you feel good and have self confidence. You get a rush of rewarding dopamine in response to pleasurable activities like food, sex, and nailing your to-do list.
On the other hand, without enough dopamine, you may feel sluggish, depressed and uninterested in life. Here are some different methods to boost your dopamine levels if you're feeling a little low.
1. EAT YOUR WAY HAPPY
a. Tyrosine. Almonds, avocados, bananas, low-fat dairy, meat and poultry,
Lima beans, sesame and pumpkin seeds all help your body to produce more dopamine. Well sourced soy products, fish, dairy, and meats also help.
Here is MY DAILY SUPPLEMENT.
b. Increase your antioxidants. Dopamine is easy to oxidize, and antioxidants may reduce free radical damage to the brain cells that produce dopamine. Antioxidants:
- Beta-carotene & carotenoids: Greens, orange veggies & fruits, asparagus, broccoli, beets
- Vitamin C: Peppers, oranges, strawberries, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
- Vitamin E: Nuts and sunflower seeds, greens, broccoli, carrots
c) Phenylethylamine (PEA), an ingredient found in chocolate, elevates dopamine. PEA also provides weight loss-related therapeutic benefits. You can order this online. Talk to your doctor beforehand. I recommend Dr. Stephanie Daniel of functionalmedicinesf.com
2. MOVE, REST... and SET GOALS!
a. Exercise increases blood calcium, which stimulates dopamine release and uptake in your brain. Try 30 to 60 minutes of walking, swimming or jogging to jump-start your dopamine levels. It also ups your endorphins. A genuine laugh or a stretch gets your endorphins going, which is similar to a dopamine high.
b. Sleep. One of the best ways to feel energized and ready to tackle the day is to get plenty of sleep. Help the body rebuild your dopamine stores Don't get fooled by the temporary Dopamine burst you get from skipping sleep. It's an evolutionary work around the body provides to get you through sleep deprivation but comes at a price. You'll feel fatigued, groggy, and irritable, but your dopamine levels will be through the roof for a short time.
c. Goals make everything a game!
Reach a new goal. Dopamine is all about pleasure and reward. We can absolutely train our brain. Whether it's important to you to get to the coffee shop on time or finally get that PhD, reaching a new goal will put your pleasure centers into party mode. Every little goal counts.
3. SUPPLEMENTS & MEDS
a. Try a supplement. Vitamin B6 & L-Phenylalanine (DLPA) can elevate dopamine in the brain. Here are the bundles I've put together from top companies. WholeFoods & boutique shops like Rainbow Grocery also carry good brands.
b. Medication that increases dopamine. Depending on the symptoms you're exhibiting, your doctor can prescribe medication that will increase your dopamine levels. The brain tends to upregulate over time and attempt to adjust back to your base level which results in many people taking more and more of the substance to achieve the same levels. Here is what is currently out there.
- ADHD: If you're really struggling to focus on tasks and experiencing hyperactivity, your doctor can prescribe psychostimulants like Ritalin to inhibit dopamine reuptake (putting dopamine away). More dopamine is left in the synaptic cleft, where it has its effect.
- Depression: Low dopamine is associated with depression. You can talk to your doctor about starting an antidepressant if natural methods don't work to relieve symptoms of low energy. Most antidepressants deal with serotonin, a different neurotransmitters associated with calm bliss over dopamine's motivated reward. The most popular Dopamine affecting antidepressant on the market is WellButrin. The major downside is the body's adjustment to the additional epinephrine on the synapse making the drug less effective over time. It can affect sleep in the beginning as well. And if your Dopamine issue starts higher up in the chain at nutrient absorption or toxin levels, an antidepressant will bandaid over the symptoms at best.
- Parkinson's disease: People who have Parkinson's disease often experience involuntary bodily movement. A dopamine booster called levodopa is often prescribed for Parkinson's patients. There is some correlation to low dopamine being a possible cause of Parkinson's. Scary!
Apparently there's even something called ECT (electro-convulsive therapy -- once deemed precarious is now returning in popularity) have shown to be effective in raising dopamine levels. I'm assuming it's an electrical impulse strategically sent to a specific part of your brain. Hadn't heard of this one. Talk to your doctor.
Eat, sleep, & move to feel good. Structure your day around little winnable games to enjoy boosts of dopamine throughout the day. Sleep enough to refill the tank. When in doubt, nap or sweat it out. You deserve to feel good.