The dopamine produced in the brain naturally makes one feel good, as the brain perceives it as a reward. For example, dopamine discharges occur in response to pleasurable activities such as eating or having sex. To make sure you're getting enough dopamine, take a look at your diet and lifestyle, although medications can also make a difference in your dopamine levels. If you are concerned about your levels, always consult a doctor.
Method 1 of 3: Increase Dopamine With Diet
Step 1. Eat foods rich in tyrosine
To make dopamine, the body needs tyrosine, which is an amino acid. When it enters the body, this amino acid travels to the brain. Once there, the corresponding neurons transform it into dopamine with the help of other enzymes.
- Foods with the highest amounts of tyrosine include, but are not limited to, cheese, fish, meat, seeds, grains, dairy, beans, and soybeans.
- As long as you get enough protein in your diet, you are getting enough tyrosine. To find out how much protein you need, multiply your weight in kilos by 0.8 grams (or your weight in pounds by 0.36 grams). For example, if you weigh 68 kg (or 150 pounds), you will need 54 grams of protein.
- As an example, ½ cup (120 g) of cottage cheese contains 14 g of protein, while a palm-sized serving of chicken contains about 19 grams of protein.
Step 2. Eat protein-rich foods to get your daily dose of phenylalanine
Tyrosine can be produced from phenylalanine, so eating foods rich in this amino acid can ensure that you get enough tyrosine. In turn, that would mean an increase in dopamine. Meats, cheeses, and wheat germ are rich in this amino acid. Sweeteners also contain it.
You should consume at least 5 grams of phenylalanine per day, but you can consume up to 8 grams per day. For example, 3 oz (90 g) of many cheeses contain 1 gram of phenylalanine
Step 3. Get your daily dose of caffeine
Consuming caffeine is another major way to increase your body's use of dopamine. While it does not increase dopamine production itself, it works more by making more receptors available to use the dopamine that the body produces.
- Do your best to consume or take up to about 300 mg per day. An average cup of coffee contains about 100 mg.
- Keep in mind that caffeine can cause depression and fatigue after it leaves the body, which happens about 6 hours after consumption. Try not to depend too much on the effect of caffeine.
Method 2 of 3: Make Lifestyle Changes
Step 1. Set goals and reward yourself for reaching them
When a prize is about to be reached, such as the achievement of a goal, the body secretes dopamine. Once you set a goal, plan small, concrete steps that you can take. Every time you reach part of your goal by taking a step, your brain will reward you with dopamine.
For example, let's say your goal is to learn to paint. You can set small goals for yourself, such as buying supplies, preparing the work area, and doing 30 minutes of painting each day
Step 2. Spend more time in sunlight to increase your sensitivity to dopamine
Sunlight plays an important role in the availability of the number of dopamine receptors that "trap" it. In other words, while it does not increase dopamine itself, it increases the amount the body uses, which provides similar benefits.
Spending at least 5-10 minutes in the sun can help. Take a walk at lunch to get some sun exposure
Step 3. Practice meditation, if you want to secrete dopamine
True meditation relaxes the body completely, to the point of having almost no desire to move. In turn, the body may secrete dopamine in response to promote movement. Try to meditate 2-3 times a day.
- Even a simple meditation like taking deep breaths can increase dopamine levels. To take deep breaths, focus only on your breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4 and then hold your breath for a 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Repeat and focus only on your breath.
- You can try a meditation app, like Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace. You can do a guided or unguided meditation.
Step 4. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is related to the secretion of dopamine in the brain. The more grateful you are, the more likely your brain is to secrete dopamine. Just be grateful for having a good meal or something a friend just did. Expressing gratitude is a way to secrete dopamine.
You can also keep a gratitude journal, where you should write 5 things for which you are grateful every day
Method 3 of 3: Using Medications and Supplements
Step 1. Take levodopa to increase dopamine in the brain
Levodopa is a precursor of dopamine, that is, it can be transformed into dopamine in the brain. Taking levodopa increases the amount of dopamine your body makes.
- Your doctor may have prescribed this medication for you if you have a condition such as Parkinson's disease or restless leg syndrome.
- Some side effects are nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, problems with voluntary movement, and dizziness. It can also cause hallucinations and confusion in certain people.
Step 2. Check out the possibility of taking a dopamine agonist to increase your dopamine receptors
While levodopa increases the amount of dopamine that the body makes, dopamine agonists actually increase the number of receptors that “bind” dopamine. You can take this drug instead of or in addition to levodopa.
- The 2 most commonly prescribed dopamine agonists are pramipexole and ropinirole.
- The main side effect of these medications is sleep during the day, which could even cause you to fall asleep against your will
- This drug is also used for diseases such as Parkinson's disease and restless leg syndrome.
Step 3. Try velvet beans as a supplement
Velvet beans naturally contain levodopa. Like stronger prescription drugs, it means that it could increase the dopamine in your brain. Look for a supplement that contains Mucuna pruriens extract with 15% L-dopa or levodopa. Take 300 mg of this extract 2 times a day.
Always check with your doctor before taking any supplement, especially one so similar to a prescription-only drug
Step 4. Consider taking gold root as a supplement
Golden root, also known as Rhodiola rosea, can increase dopamine activity in the brain. Start with 200 mg of a supplement containing Rhodiola rosea extract. You can consume a maximum of 600 mg in a single day.
- Consult with your doctor before starting to take this supplement.
- Take it 30 minutes before eating early in the morning. It can cause insomnia if you take it too late.