There are about 86 billion neurons in the human brain. They communicate with each other via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Dopamine is one of the most extensively studied neurotransmitters because it is linked to so many aspects of human behavior including motivation, pleasure seeking, and addictions. It plays important roles in attention, memory, mood, learning, sleep, movement, and anticipatory pleasure. It’s involved in many different important pathways. But when most people talk about dopamine, particularly when they talk about motivation, addiction, attention, or lust, they are talking about the dopamine pathway known as the mesolimbic pathway, which starts with cells in the ventral tegmental area, buried deep in the middle of the brain, which send their projections out to places like the nucleus accumbens and the cortex. Increases in dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens occur in response to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And dopamine signaling in this area is changed during the course of drug addiction. Dopamine provides your zest for life and it feels so good! Dopamine is also used by a few systems outside the central nervous system such as the kidneys, pancreas, and immune cells. Dopamine is associated with traits that seem uniquely human, yet it is widespread in the animal kingdom and occurs in some plants.

If you are low in dopamine, you’ll have little joy for life. You’ll be low on energy and motivation, and will often rely on caffeine, sugar, or other stimulants to get through the day. Dopamine deficiency can also manifest as certain psychiatric disorders including depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), bipolar disorder, and addictions of all kinds. Here’s a list of the most common dopamine deficiency symptoms:

  • lack of motivation

  • fatigue

  • apathy

  • procrastination

  • inability to feel pleasure

  • low libido

  • inability to connect with others

  • sleep problems

  • mood swings

  • hopelessness

  • memory loss

  • inability to concentrate

  • inability to complete tasks

  • engaging in self-destructive behaviors, especially addictions

There are ways to naturally boost your levels of dopamine and I highly recommend trying as many as you can. Your diet can be altered to suit your needs. Dopamine is made from the amino acid l-tyrosine which is commonly found in protein-rich foods. Eating a diet high in l-tyrosine can help ensure you’ve got the basic building blocks needed for dopamine synthesis. Potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, broccoli, oranges, spinach, and Brussels sprouts contain some dopamine. Bananas are a particularly rich source of dietary dopamine. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice turmeric.It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it boosts levels of dopamine. Ginkgo biloba is traditionally used for a variety of brain-related problems such as poor concentration, memory problems, headaches, fatigue, mental confusion, depression, and anxiety. One of the ways ginkgo works is by raising dopamine. L-theanine is a unique compound found in green, black, and white teas. It increases levels of dopamine as well as serotonin and the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). However, the dopamine consumed in food doesn’t cross the blood–brain barrier and so has no impact on your brain. If you want to elevate your dopamine level with food, you’ll need to use a workaround. Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain.It boosts production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, and improves the flow of nutrients to the brain.It can also increase your levels of dopamine along with both serotonin and norepinephrine, a dual-purpose stress hormone and neurotransmitter that helps you respond to stressful situations.

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