A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that’s secreted by a cell to affect another cell. They are the way nervous system cells communicate with each other. Your brain uses neurotransmitters to perform the necessary functions of the body. One of these neurotransmitters is dopamine. In this article, we will take a detailed look at dopamine, what it does, and how to optimize its effects. Let’s get started!
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine, sometimes called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, is involved in feelings of reward, motivation, attention, and memory. In fact, it’s an important brain chemical that impacts the central nervous system. It also has a significant role in regulating movement of the body. (1)
What Does It Do?
Considered a chemical messenger, dopamine carries signals between the nerve cells of the brain. Dopamine helps create feelings of pleasure and reward when released in large amounts. While it doesn’t specifically cause these feelings, it does connect pleasure or reward emotions with the behaviors that caused it.
On the other hand, if dopamine is released in small amounts, it may lead to decreased motivation and enthusiasm.
Another thing dopamine does is support the body’s natural fight-or-flight response. In fact, dopamine, along with norepinephrine and epinephrine, are known as catecholamines. The “fight or flight” response is a direct result of the multi-system actions of catecholamines.
How To Increase Dopamine Levels
Typically, the nervous system effectively regulates dopamine levels, although deficiencies can occur. Still, there are some things you can do to ensure optimal levels of dopamine.
Exercise is thought to promote dopamine production. Getting enough exercise should not be a problem for anybody visiting I’ll Pump You Up. Many people reading this article are most likely bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts. What if you don’t work out consistently? Simply taking regular walks will support increased dopamine production. (6)
Consume Plenty Of Protein
Again, this should not be a problem for regular visitors to I’ll Pump You Up. If you work out, protein is what it’s all about. Of course, you know how important protein is. You also know that one component of protein is amino acids, 20 of them to be exact.
One of the amino acids is tyrosine, which plays an important part in dopamine production. It goes without saying that I’ll Pump You Up has a great selection of protein powders, all of which contain tyrosine. (7)
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Stock Up On The Right Supplements!
Certain supplements stimulate dopamine production. Here’s a look at each one.
This is a big one. Mucuna is actually a bean found in places like India, China, and Africa. It contains an amino acid known as l-dopa. This amino is a dopamine precursor that’s necessary for the brain to produce dopamine. (8)
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Recent research has shown more of a connection between the brain and the gut than previously thought. It turns out that the gut is thought to contain neurotransmitters, including signaling molecules. These include dopamine. It seems certain healthy bacteria in the gut supports dopamine production. Probiotics increase healthy bacteria in the gut, making them essential for optimal dopamine production. (9, 10)
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There are a lot of good reasons to use B vitamins. Among other benefits, the B’s support cellular energy production and combat stress. Here’s another good reason. The body requires B vitamins in order to make dopamine, especially B6, B12, folic acid, and niacin. It’s important to remember that the B’s are water-soluble. Therefore, they must be taken daily to prevent deficiencies. (11)
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Here’s one more important vitamin for optimal dopamine production. In recent years, vitamin D has proven to have more benefits than originally thought. One thing vitamin D does is control specific neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. (12)
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Iron & Magnesium
Like the B vitamins, minerals, specifically magnesium and iron, play a role in dopamine production. Avoiding deficiencies is critical to optimizing dopamine levels. (13, 14)
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Green tea is known as a potent antioxidant and as a source of caffeine. It also contains theanine. Often, theanine is combined with caffeine in stim-based pre-workouts. The reason is that theanine helps smooth out the sometimes-harsh effects of high amounts of caffeine. In addition, theanine has cognitive benefits that include supporting dopamine production. (15)
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Ginkgo is one of the most popular herbs on the market. It supports memory and overall cognitive function. While more research is needed, ginkgo is thought to support increased dopamine levels. (16)
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Eat A Healthy Diet
If you’re visiting illpumpyouup.com no doubt you eat a clean, high protein diet. For optimal dopamine levels, make sure your diet includes healthy fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids. You can find Omegas in fish such as salmon and mackerel. You can also find it in flax, walnuts, and chia seeds.
In addition, besides protein powder, your protein sources should include lean meats, fish, cheese, beans, and dairy products. It should be no surprise that processed, sugary foods should be avoided.
Get Some Sleep!
Getting a good night’s sleep makes or breaks your day. If you sleep well, you feel refreshed. Your productivity is high. If you worked out the day before, sleep is an important part of recovery.
On the other hand, lack of sleep can cause a multitude of problems. One of them is the disruption of normal dopamine levels. For example, some studies have suggested that dopamine production is highest in the morning and lowest at bedtime. Poor sleep short-circuits this balance and reduces overall levels. (16)
The answer is to be consistent in your sleep times, and shoot for at least 7 hours a night. If insomnia is a problem, here’s some natural sleep aids that can help: You searched for sleep aids – I’ll Pump You Up (illpumpyouup.com)
Stress can cause a number of problems. For bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts, it can be especially problematic. If you suffer from periods of high stress, there’s several things you can do. First, as noted above, take a good B-complex. Second, use deep breathing exercises. Finally, practice meditation.
Get Out And Enjoy The Sunshine!
Some people feel depressed if they are not out in the sunshine. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s true that lack of sunshine reduces levels of dopamine and other mood-influencing neurotransmitters.
Is it a nice, sunny day? Make sure you’re smart about sun exposure. Got that taken care of? Then take some time and get out in the sun. No doubt you’ll feel better for it, and your dopamine levels will reflect that. (17)
We have seen that dopamine is a crucial neurotransmitter. Among other benefits, it has a major role in your feelings of motivation and reward.
The body usually regulates dopamine levels with no problems. Even so, you can experience maximum dopamine levels naturally. In fact, it only takes a few lifestyle and nutritional adjustments.
Nevertheless, a combination of a clean diet that’s high in protein and healthy fats, and the right supplements, help your body produce dopamine.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. You need to exercise, get enough sleep, and control stress. These tips can help you experience optimal dopamine production.
Don’t forget to visit illpumpyouup.com for all your supplement needs!
Finally, you can learn more about neurotransmitters here: Neurotransmitters: What they are, functions, and psychology (medicalnewstoday.com)
Physiology, Catecholamines – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
Franco, R., Reyes-Resina, I., & Navarro, G. (2021). Dopamine in Health and Disease: Much More Than a Neurotransmitter. Biomedicines, 9(2), 109. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9020109
Volkow, N. D., Wise, R. A., & Baler, R. (2017). The dopamine motive system: implications for drug and food addiction. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 18(12), 741–752. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.130
Chong, T. T., & Husain, M. (2016). The role of dopamine in the pathophysiology and treatment of apathy. Progress in brain research, 229, 389–426. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pbr.2016.05.007
Revealing Explanation of the Impact of the Fight and Flight Response (drlamcoaching.com)
Dopamine | Psychology Today
Dopamine – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
Tomita-Yokotani, K., Hashimoto, H., Fujii, Y., Nakamura, T., & Yamashita, M. (2004). Distribution of L-DOPA in the root of velvet bean plant (Mucuna pruriens L.) and gravity. Uchu Seibutsu Kagaku, 18(3), 165–166.
Ochoa-Repáraz, J., & Kasper, L. H. (2016). The Second Brain: Is the Gut Microbiota a Link Between Obesity and Central Nervous System Disorders?. Current obesity reports, 5(1), 51–64. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-016-0191-1
Wall, R., Cryan, J. F., Ross, R. P., Fitzgerald, G. F., Dinan, T. G., & Stanton, C. (2014). Bacterial neuroactive compounds produced by psychobiotics. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 817, 221–239. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_10
B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review (nih.gov)
Unger, E. L., Bianco, L. E., Jones, B. C., Allen, R. P., & Earley, C. J. (2014). Low brain iron effects and reversibility on striatal dopamine dynamics. Experimental neurology, 261, 462–468. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.06.023
Cardoso, C. C., Lobato, K. R., Binfaré, R. W., Ferreira, P. K., Rosa, A. O., Santos, A. R., & Rodrigues, A. L. (2009). Evidence for the involvement of the monoaminergic system in the antidepressant-like effect of magnesium. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 33(2), 235–242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2008.11.007
Nobre, A. C., Rao, A., & Owen, G. N. (2008). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 17 Suppl 1, 167–168.
Ramassamy, C., Naudin, B., Christen, Y., Clostre, F., & Costentin, J. (1992). Prevention by Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) and trolox C of the decrease in synaptosomal dopamine or serotonin uptake following incubation. Biochemical pharmacology, 44(12), 2395–2401. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-2952(92)90685-c
Dopamine: A Modulator of Circadian Rhythms in the Central Nervous System (nih.gov)
Seasonal Depressive Disorder – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)