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Dopamine Nutrition: Boost Your Motivation and Mood

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Dopamine plays a huge role in your physical and mental health. Here's how to boost it.



Climbing a red ladder reaching for the sky



What’s the benefit of boosted Dopamine?


  1. Increased motivation and drive

  2. Mental sharpness

  3. Improved mood

Learn more about Dopamine and other neurotransmitters here TK link to neurotransmitters page


How to Boost Dopamine:


  1. Increase the amount of precursor compounds needed to make it

  2. Boost the pathway, ie support the enzymes involved in dopamine synthesis, signaling, and cleanup

  3. Balance signaling and increase neuroprotection



The Pathway


L-Phenylalanine → L-Tyrosine → L-DOPA → Dopamine


The beginning of the pathway to Dopamine starts with L-Tyrosine, an amino acid found in most protein containing foods but is especially rich in cheese, sesame seeds, and high protein items like fish, meat, eggs, and soy.


Tyrosine can also be made from the essential amino acid L-Phenylalanine by the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase.


The rate-limiting step in the L-DOPA pathway is tyrosine hydroxylase. This enzyme turns L-tyrosine into L-DOPA.


Once we have L-DOPA, there’s one more step to go to get to dopamine.

Vitamin B6, as Pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (P5P), is needed as the coenzyme for DOPA decarboxylase (DDC) which converts L-DOPA to Dopamine.


What Happens Next


Dopamine will convert to Norepinephrine as needed via dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH).


Dopamine Diet Hacks


Protein is incredibly important for dopamine boosting. The basic ingredients for neurotransmitters are amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. To learn more, check out Protein: The Secret to Supercharge Focus and Energy.


Omega 3s are vital to a healthy brain, and is shown to help both Parkinson’s and ADHD, both strongly tied to dopamine balance. Learn more here TK link to Omega 3s article.

Vitamin B3 (as Niacinamide) and Vitamin C are both cofactors that are needed in the creation of dopamine and the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine.



Supplements for Dopamine Support



Safest Supplements



ALCAR

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a naturally occurring substance that is found in meat and animal products. ALCAR is being studied for it's beneficial effects on preventing age-related decreases in dopamine production.

For more information on benefits, safety, and dosing of ALCAR, click here.



Uridine Monophosphate

Uridine Monophosphate is another naturally occurring substance that plays a special role in supporting dopamine by improving the dopamine receptors in the brain. It increases potassium-evoked dopamine release and enhances the signal transduction and turnover rate of dopamine receptors, leading to increased dopamine-related (motivational) behaviors.


Uridine Monophosphate combined with the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA increases dopamine and tyrosine hydroxylase (listed above in the Pathway to Dopamine), and shows promise for Parkinson’s treatment.


Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is one of the safest herbal supplements and is currently being studied for treatment of Parkinson's, because it has shown to reverse damage done to dopamine-producing brain cells.

Lion's Mane Mushroom is safe to take during pregnancy and with most prescription medications. People taking immunotherapy drugs should consult their doctor before taking Lion's Mane or any mushroom food or supplement. TK Lion's Mane link




Other supplements



Caffeine and Theobromine

Caffeine and Theobromine are related chemicals found in coffee and chocolate, that both block adenosine receptors. Adenosine functions like the brakes in your car, and blocking the receptors is like putting blocks under the brake pedal so that it can’t be pushed down.


Adenosine also shuts down dopamine, so blocking adenosine indirectly boosts dopamine. (R, R, R, R)


Caffeine and Theobromine are generally safe to combine with most prescription medications but care should be taken during pregnancy and those taking stimulant medications.


Phenethylamine

Phenethylamine or PEA is a natural compound also found in chocolate and other foods (especially fermented foods: Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria make PEA. Did you know chocolate is fermented?) that acts as a central nervous system stimulant in humans. Phenethylamine makes the body release both norepinephrine and dopamine.


Phenethylamine in the amounts found in foods like dark chocolate and fermented foods are generally safe for most prescription meds and during pregnancy, but a supplement version containing a high dose should be used with care.


Centrophenoxine and DMAE

Centrophenoxine and DMAE are anti-oxidant compounds that are being explored for their ability to increase serotonin, norephinephrine and dopamine in the brain as well as protect against cell damage. (R, R, R)


Centrophenoxine and DMAE are both NOT recommended during pregnancy due to the concern for birth defects. Care should be taken with MAOIs, antipsychotics, and stimulant medications.


Mucuna Pruriens

Mucuna pruriens is very effective for boosting Dopamine.


Mucuna pruriens is a member of the legume family that's a natural source of L-DOPA which is only one step away from becoming Dopamine.


It is not recommended during pregnancy, and anyone taking MAOIs, antipsychotics, or prescribed L-DOPA or related drugs (like for Parkinson's) should only start Mucuna pruriens under the direct supervision of a doctor to adjust dosages properly.


TK Click here to learn more about Dopamine and the other main Neurotransmitters.

 

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