How To Increase Dopamine Food Supplements And Medications That Help
By Sarah Fader
Updated August 13, 2019
Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Dopamine has an important job in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells. If you don't have enough dopamine, medical and psychological problems can result. What can you do about it? You may be able to increase your dopamine with the help of a doctor or even on your own.
What Dopamine Does In The Brain
Dopamine has several functions in the body. In the brain, it acts as a neurotransmitter that carries messages from brain cell to brain cell. These messages can please you and give you a feeling of reward. This same mechanism of dopamine can also cause addictions.
This amazing chemical also has roles in memory, attention, movement, mood, sleep, and motivation. The death of dopamine-producing cells can bring on Parkinson's or any of a few other diseases.
What Happens When You Have Too Little Dopamine?
Dopamine deficiency is most often caused by poor food choices, lack of proper nutrition, obesity, thyroid problems, or addictions. You will also have low dopamine if you're taking a dopamine agonist drug for schizophrenia, bipolar, or nausea and vomiting.
Things can begin to go wrong in your body and your mind when you don't have enough dopamine. The following are symptoms of low dopamine:
- Low motivation
- Low sex drive
- Sleep problems
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty completing tasks
- No feelings of pleasure
Is It Possible to Increase Dopamine?
You can increase your dopamine levels. You may have to give up some foods you're used to eating. You may need to ask your doctor about drugs that increase dopamine. You can also learn how to increase dopamine naturally through better food choices and supplements.
How To Increase Dopamine Naturally
Would you like to know how to increase dopamine naturally? If so, it pays to know what foods to eat, what supplements to take, and other ways to increase dopamine that don't involve medications.
Foods That Increase Dopamine
Perhaps the simplest and safest way to increase dopamine is through the foods you eat and don't eat. If you haven't done it already, take a look at what you eat every day. Keep a food diary for a week and check it against these recommendations.
Foods that quickly affect your emotions excite your dopamine reward system. When this system gets lit up too frequently, it begins to fail, causing you to want more and more of whatever is giving you that feeling. Foods to avoid include are refined sugars and unhealthy fats.
All eating increases dopamine. The real question is what you can eat to increase dopamine levels without overstimulating your reward system?
How To Increase Dopamine Production
Tyrosine aids in dopamine production. So, any foods you can eat that have tyrosine can help with dopamine increase.
- Red Beets
Eggs give a bonus in that they increase both dopamine and serotonin. Fish, apples, kale, oregano oil, and green tea also have components that aid in the production of dopamine.
Timing is also important. You need to eat regular meals to avoid disrupting the hormones that regulate your appetite. Choose high quality, high nutrition foods. Get plenty of fruits and vegetables, too, to give your body and brain all they need to work properly.
How To Increase Dopamine And Serotonin Through Exercise
If you're interested in learning how to increase serotonin and dopamine naturally, consider the benefits of exercise.
Serotonin, another brain chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter, helps moderate the reward/punishment system along with dopamine. When serotonin and dopamine are well-balanced, you don't get carried away with pleasure seeking or become too disinhibited.
Not only does exercise increase dopamine, but dopamine also increases your ability to exercise. In other words, the more you move, the more you're able to move. At the same time, exercise increases serotonin.
How To Increase Dopamine With Supplements
While you can naturally increase dopamine best with food and exercise, supplements can give you an extra boost. Tyrosine supplements help most, with that important amino acid that helps your body produce dopamine.
Gingko Biloba not only helps with dopamine production, but it also increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. This enhances the transmission of signals in the brain, allowing the dopamine you have to work better.
Phenylalanine supplements help because this amino acid makes tyrosine. Iron is needed for dopamine production, but it's important not to get too much. If you feel you have an iron deficiency, talk to your doctor about whether you need an iron supplement.
Other supplements to increase dopamine include:
- L-theanine found in green tea
- John's Wort
- Huperzine A
- Clary sage
- Fish oil
- Lactobacillus Plantarum
Other Ways To Naturally Boost Dopamine Production
One way to keep your dopamine levels high enough is to avoid becoming addicted. When you expose yourself to drugs and alcohol regularly, you take the chance that your dopamine system will become exhausted. Eventually, addictions make it very hard to increase dopamine naturally.
Your dopamine levels will increase naturally if you do something creative. You can also get that boost by breaking up large tasks into small goals. Every time you complete these mini-tasks, you get a small surge of dopamine.
Meditation has been shown to increase dopamine as well as provide a wide range of other benefits.
Medications That Increase Dopamine
If your doctor determines you have a severe dopamine deficiency, they might prescribe you a medication to increase dopamine. Your doctor is always the best person to advise you on how to increase dopamine with drugs without getting too much dopamine.
Atypical antipsychotic drugs, such as olanzapine, clozapine, risperidone, and ziprasidone, increase dopamine in the cerebral cortex. Of course, you wouldn't want to take these drugs if you didn't need them. If you do need an antipsychotic drug, though, these drugs are better for dopamine increase than typical antipsychotics such as haloperidol.
Some drugs which act as antidepressants, including fluoxetine, imipramine, desipramine, buspirone, and clomipramine, may also work by increasing dopamine levels. However, fluoxetine can increase your disability if you have Parkinson's Disease.
Because inflammation decreases dopamine, taking non-inflammatory drugs your doctor prescribes can help keep your dopamine levels up when you're sick or in pain.
What Would Happen If I Got Too Much Dopamine?
Getting too much dopamine is possible. As already mentioned, addictions happen when drugs or alcohol cause extreme fluctuations in dopamine levels.
High dopamine levels are also associated with drug-induced schizophrenia and psychosis. You may also get gangrene in your fingers and toes due to too high dopamine levels.
High Dopamine Symptoms
High levels of dopamine can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Skin irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
- Blue skin
- Swelling of face, throat, or tongue
- Heart arrhythmia
- Menstrual disorders
- Decreased immunity
- Increased impulsivity
- Increased need for instant gratification
How Therapy Can Help Increase Dopamine
Psychotherapy can improve your ability to feel pleasure as your depression eases. This happens when the dopamine in your brain moves more freely. Any psychotherapy that improves and stabilizes your mood can have this effect.
Developing a Plan To Increase Dopamine
The best way to increase dopamine naturally is through diet and exercise. Supplements can help, too, and other natural ways to increase dopamine, such as meditation, are easy to add to your routine.
You need to consider your unique answer to how to naturally increase dopamine for you. Avoiding sugar and saturated fats is a good way for anyone to start. Adding foods is a little trickier. You need to choose additions to your diet that you can stand to eat. You certainly won't enjoy eating food you don't like, so chances are, you won't eat it very long or very often.
As for exercise, the most effective exercise is a cardiovascular exercise that gives you a workout without exhausting you.
With the many supplements you can take to increase dopamine, how do you decide which ones to choose? If cost is a major factor for you, you can price different supplements to find the ones you can afford to keep taking in the long run. Start with tyrosine and add only a few high dopamine supplements one at a time.
Talk to your doctor before you make any major changes. Then, if you don't find a way to increase dopamine on your own, see your doctor for advice and possibly to get a prescription for a drug that increases dopamine if it is appropriate for you.
One thing you can do to increase your dopamine right away is to work on decreasing depression. You can talk to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp.com for online therapy on your schedule, and from anywhere you have an internet connection.
You don't have to live with the effects of low dopamine anymore. You can change your dopamine levels naturally on your own. Talking to a counselor is a great way to make an effective plan and set it into motion!