Dopamine is a chemical that plays a role in regulating cognition, memory, attention and learning within your brain. It also helps to regulate sleep and thinking. In normal circumstances, the nervous system of the body manages the development of dopamine. Here are 10 supplements to boost dopamine in your brain.
1. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil has different antioxidant and antibacterial properties such as carvacrol. One study showed that consumption of carvacrol stimulated the development of dopamine in mice (1).
The mice study found that supplements with the oregano extract reduced dopamine degradation and caused positive behavioral effects (2).
While such animal studies are promising, we need further human studies to determine whether oregano oil has similar effects on humans.
2. Green Tea
Because of its antioxidant properties and nutrient content, green tea has long been praised. It also contains the L-theanine amino acid, which has a direct effect on your brain (3).
L-theanine will increase some of your brain’s neurotransmitters like dopamine. Multiple studies have shown that L-theanine increases the development of dopamine, which results in an antidepressant effect (4, 5, 6).
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements (omega-3) contain two types of fatty acids:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Several studies show fish oil supplements have antidepressant effects (9, 10, 11). One rat study showed that a fish-oil-enriched diet increased dopamine levels by 40 percent in the brain’s frontal cortex (12).
Nevertheless, we need more human-based research to make a conclusive decision.
It has also been proposed that some ginseng ingredients, such as ginsenosides, are responsible for increased brain dopamine including cognitive function and focus (18).
One research on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children showed that lower dopamine levels were associated with ADHD symptoms.
The children involved in the study received 2,000 mg of Korean red ginseng daily for eight weeks. The results showed that ginseng has an increased concentration in ADHD children (19).
Nonetheless, we need more studies to draw definite conclusions about how much ginseng improves the development of dopamine and the functioning of the brain in humans.
A small, controlled study found that taking 1 gram of curcumin had similar effects as Prozac medicine. Improving mood in people with major depressive disorder (MDD) (21).
Nonetheless, we need further research to understand the role of curcumin in increasing dopamine in humans and its use in depression management.
Probiotics, also known as good gut bacteria, not only benefit the health of the gut, but can also prevent or treat various health problems, including mood disorders (24).
In addition, one study in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) showed that those who received probiotic supplements had a reduction of symptoms of depression relative to those who received a placebo (31).
Although probiotic research is progressing, we need more human studies to better understand the effect of probiotics on the mood and development of dopamine.
By consuming fermented food products such as yogurt or kefir, or by taking a dietary supplement, you can add probiotics to your diet.
7. Vitamin D
In your body, vitamin D has many functions, including controlling neurotransmitters such as dopamine (32).
In one animal study, dopamine levels increased when supplemented with vitamin D3 (33).
Because of limited research, it is hard to say whether supplementation with vitamin D would influence dopamine levels.
Preliminary animal studies are promising, but we need more human studies to understand the relationship between vitamin D and dopamine.
Caffeine can improve brain function by raising the dopamine receptor levels in your brain (37).
Your body will establish caffeine tolerance, however, meaning it will learn how to handle increased amounts.
Thus, you can consume more caffeine than you did before, to experience the same effects (38).
Magnesium plays a vital role in ensuring a healthy body and mind. Its antidepressant properties are not yet fully understood. Therefore, there is evidence that magnesium deficiency may contribute to lower dopamine levels (39, 40).
Furthermore, one study showed that magnesium supplementation increased dopamine levels and had antidepressant effects on mice (41).
Studies on the impact of magnesium supplements on dopamine concentrations are limited to animal studies.
However, if you can not get enough magnesium from your diet alone, it may be a superb idea to take a supplement to ensure that you fulfill your requirements.
Berberine is an active component present in some plants and herbs and is extracted from them. It has been used for years in traditional Chinese medicine and has become popular as a natural supplement recently.
There are no reports that berberine supplements affect dopamine levels in humans. Therefore, we need further research.
- Rhodiola Rosea: Rhodiola is the root and the scientific name is Rhodiola Rosea. The root contains over 140 active ingredients. Russian people have been using Rhodiola for centuries to treat anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
- Bacopa monnieri: Brahmi is a staple plant in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine known as Bacopa monnieri. For centuries, Ayurvedic physicians have used Bacopa monnieri for a variety of purposes, including memory recovery, anxiety reduction, and epilepsy.
- Echinacea tea: Echinacea was tested and found to be effective as an anti-anxiety supplement. The extract helps to control the synapses that enable the body and brain to communicate.
- Maca Root: Maca root can improve brain function. In fact, people in Peru have been using it to improve the performance of children in school for many decades. Studies in animals with a damaged memory show an increase in learning and memory. Black Maca appears to be more successful in this respect than other varieties.
The Bottom Line
Dopamine is an essential chemical that influences brain-related functions including mood, sleep, and memory in your body. In general, the body controls dopamine levels on its own. Some medical conditions and diet and lifestyle decisions can lower the levels of dopamine. Along with eating a balanced diet, many supplements can help boost the levels of dopamine. Speaking to your health care provider or registered dietitian is always the best way to determine whether certain supplements are right for you.
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