If you find yourself lacking motivation, focus and concentration, you could be low in dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that plays a role in many functions, from controlling our movement to helping us solve complex problems. Also known as the “motivation molecule”, dopamine helps create feelings of happiness and motivation, while enhancing our focus and productivity. Dopamine is also known as a “reward chemical” because it’s associated with the brain’s reward and pleasure systems. Dopamine is the satisfying feeling of crossing a task off on your to-do list, and the anticipation and excitement of having your favourite dessert after dinner, or buying something on your wishlist.
Dopamine is also responsible for the “warm and fuzzy” feeling you get when you think of pleasurable memories, your favourite activities, vacation spot, loved ones and so on. When you feel pleasure, euphoria and excitement, what you’re actually feeling is a rush of dopamine. Now, as mentioned above, dopamine plays a key role in our motivation, productivity, focus and concentration. Dopamine is the reason why we can complete difficult tasks, stay engaged with projects, make smart decisions and achieve hefty goals. But when our dopamine levels are low, we tend to have difficulty concentrating on one task at a time. We also feel unmotivated, tired and forgetful. Other symptoms of low dopamine include mood swings, a lack of interest in life, or feeling like “the thrill is gone” as described by BeBrainFit.com.
Fatigue, depression, sugar cravings and relying on stimulants to get through the day are also signs of dopamine deficiency. As you can see, dopamine is a complex molecule that wears many hats not only when it comes to your mental well-being, but the success you experience in life. Without the ability to feel motivated and focused, completing any task or activity feels like a chore. Low dopamine could also be the reason why you avoid doing things that will improve your well-being (such as going to the gym) and also promoting destructive behaviours, such as procrastination and addiction. Luckily, there are natural ways to increase your dopamine levels to improve your drive and zest for life. Since dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s produced in the brain, you cannot take it as a nutritional supplement. However, certain foods and nutrients have been shown to increase dopamine production, which can be included in your diet each day.
Foods to Eat to Increase Dopamine Production
In order to produce dopamine, the body requires a sufficient amount of the amino acid, L-tyrosine (1). Therefore, increasing the amount of tyrosine-rich foods in your diet can help increase dopamine levels naturally. Foods that are high in tyrosine include chicken, salmon, cod, turkey, pork, cheese (especially parmesan and cottage cheese), egg whites, seaweed, pumpkin, spinach, banana, avocado, kidney beans, sesame seeds. As you can see, increasing your dopamine is easy when you’re eating a diet rich in whole foods. Add an avocado to your green smoothie, serve up some wild salmon for dinner, enjoy egg whites with some turkey bacon in the morning and you’ve significantly increased the tyrosine in your diet and promoted dopamine production.
Other Ways to Increase Dopamine Production Naturally
You can also take tyrosine as a nutritional supplement. Most tyrosine supplements recommend beginning at 500 mg of tyrosine each day, but for extra mood and stress support, there are tyrosine supplements available at higher doses, such as AOR’s L-tyrosine. As always, it’s important to check with a licensed healthcare practitioner for safety and dosage before adding any new nutritional supplements to your diet. You can also increase your dopamine levels through certain activities. Keeping a daily log of your achievements can help increase motivation, while physical activities such as running and yoga naturally increase dopamine production. Dopamine can also be increased through creative activities, such as painting, photography, drawing and writing. As you can see, the importance of dopamine for your mental well-being cannot be understated. By increasing your dopamine levels, you’re more likely to find life’s challenges easier to overcome, improve your decision making skills, meet obstacles with a greater sense of calm, and rediscover the motivation and focus you need to achieve great things and create the success you desire from life. .