13 Natural Dopamine Supplements To Boost Your Mood!

 

Written by: Spencer Higgs - Jun. 22, 2020

dopamine supplements  


It’s one of only four things in life that makes you happy. No, not ice cream. Not shopping or sunshine or bottomless mimosas. But not NOT those things either. It’s what keeps you balanced and keeps you focused. It pushes you to complete a task, and high-fives you when you do. It helps you learn and lets you sleep. It’s even the switch that turns you on when you get, well… turned on. 🎚

It’s dopamine. And without it, we simply wouldn’t feel like ourselves. 

In fact, we sometimes don’t. When our dopamine levels fluctuate, so does our mood. Which is one reason why it’s common for people to take dopamine supplements. 

To understand why, we’ll be discussing:

A happy couple walking with their arms around each other, under Tower Bridge. Such feelings of love and happiness are in part thanks to dopamine.

What Is Dopamine?


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that plays several important roles in the brain and body. Also known as the “happy hormone”, dopamine is responsible for regulating your mood and stimulates the pleasure-center of your brain. But, that’s not all—Dopamine is also responsible for:

  • Behavior, cognition & learning
  • Pleasurable reward
  • Focus & attention
  • Memory
  • Motor response
  • Lactation 
  • Sleep
  • Social anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Mood & motivation

And more. 

As with anything, balance is key. Too much or too little of the happy hormone can actually have adverse effects on your health. For example, floods of dopamine have been shown to cause hallucinations or schizophrenia while severe droughts have been linked to Parkinson’s Disease and depression. Some imbalances have even been linked to addiction and ADHD. [1, 2] Although these examples are extreme, it should go without saying that keeping a healthy balance of dopamine is crucial to maintaining a healthy mood. 

Dopamine and Mood: What’s The Connection?


The ups and downs, the ebbs and flows… the gooey satisfaction of biting into a fresh baked cookie… the excitement of big promotion… the thrill of a first kiss… These mood boosters are each a result of dopamine release. 

It’s no wonder dopamine has a few positive colloquiums, like:

The Happiness Hormone 😄
The Motivation Molecule
The Reward Chemical 🏆

These nicknames are all different, but all accurate. Dopamine sends feelings of pleasure, excitement, assurance, and reward directly to our brains. 

These reward responses were likely evolutionary necessities, and manifest today in modern “social survival” settings. [3

When our dopamine levels go up, they bring our mood with it. But when levels are suppressed, things might feel a little… off. When this happens, people tend to seek some form of outside stimulation, like coffee, good food, social affirmation, or maybe a little retail therapy to feel a boost of dopamine. There! That’s better, right?!

Yes! But be careful—dopamine is what causes some people to persistently seek reward through addictive substances, unhealthy diets, and persistent socializing (think max FOMO). 

But most people who take natural mood boosters are simply looking for a motivational or emotional boost, something to part the day’s gray clouds and shine enough uplifting light to get through a long workday, hit the gym, or feel a little less concerned for things that shouldn’t have concerned us in the first place. 

There’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s a lot you can take to help.

A woman sitting on the couch, feeling unmotivated. Dopamine supplements can help increase motivation and mood.


Best Natural Mood Enhancers & Dopamine Supplements

1. Vitamin D


My favorite on the list of dopamine supplements, which I like to get directly from ray after glorious ray of sunshine. Of course, dairy is also a good source of vitamin D. But if you’re looking for a mood booster without the calories or sunburn, vitamin D supplements may be worth exploring.

Vitamin D is the only vitamin that’s also a hormone, and vitamin D receptors have been identified in parts of the brain responsible for our mood. Because this remarkable vitamin/hormone activates genes that regulate the flow of dopamine, many psychologists consider it favorably among dopamine supplements. [4

However, more studies may be needed to fully support vitamin D as a dopamine supplement in the eyes of governing boards like the FDA. There aren’t enough human tests to show how successfully it increases dopamine, especially in people with vitamin D deficiency. But the results we do have look promising. [5

2. Probiotics & prebiotics


Now, we all know that probiotics are important for balancing gut health, even preventing cancer. [6] But they also play a role as natural mood boosters and dopamine supplements.That’s because our gut microbiota is largely reliant on pre- and probiotics to function properly. [7] And strong data suggests that our microbiota can mimic endocrine (hormone secreting) organs that help regulate dopamine and serotonin, another mood booster. [8]

3. Avocados


All this time, I thought avocados made me happy because their creamy texture and incomparable taste goes so well on toast. Turns out, I’m only half right (which still counts!).

The other (not necessarily the wrong 😜) half is that avocados contain tyrosine, an essential amino acid and precursor to dopamine. When our bodies are under stress, greater amounts of tyrosine is needed, and supplementation can dramatically help with depression. [9]

4. Mucuna pruriens (velvet beans)


So many fun names for one of the most formidable dopamine supplements on the market. Mucuna pruriens—often called monkey tamarinds, velvet beans, lacuna beans, or cowitch 🐮🧙‍♀—are native to tropical Africa and Asia. Today, their reputation is global, thanks to this midnight-blue legume’s generous levels of levodopa (L-dopa). 

L-dopa is another precursor to dopamine, and is one of the most common and effective treatments for Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological disease caused by insufficient dopamine in the midbrain. Parkinson’s dramatically slows locomotor skills; L-dopa—and the subsequent increase in dopamine—help speed things up a bit, allowing people who suffer from this neurodegenerative disorder to live a higher quality of life. [10]

But these tasty little legumes aren’t exclusively for Parkinson’s treatments. Velvet beans have a long list of benefits, from anti-venom to anti-inflammatory to aphrodisiac. [11

And while L-dopa’s efficacy in treating Parkinson’s symptoms shouldn’t be understated, it’s manifold other potential benefits shouldn’t be ignored, either.

5. Salmon


As if the last two amazing foods weren’t enough, it turns out salmon has also snuck—or, rather, swum—onto our list of dopamine supplements! Salmon, of course, is rich in healthy fatty acids and numerous other nutrients. But a standard 6-oz filet contains 211% RDI of the amino acid, Phenylalanine. 

Say it with me: Fen-El-Ah-Len-In. (Nicely done! If accomplishing that phonetic feat felt good, you just experienced a little boost of dopamine. 🙌) 

Phenylalanine is the precursor to tyrosine, which is the precursor to dopamine found in avocados. [12]

Yes, I agree. All these biochemical precursors make dopamine supplements sound like a Greek mythology family tree. But, it’s all pretty simple. Natural mood boosters make you feel happy and motivated. And when it comes to salmon, avocado, and velvet beans, they also make you feel full. Which feels good too! 

6. Oregano Oil


People who take natural mood enhancers often rave about oregano oil as a way to help keep things on the bright side. And it may not be placebo. Oregano oil contains carvacrol, which is most popular as a food additive, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. [13]. But it has also shown in studies to work within the dopaminergic system to reduce stress, and to parallel dopamine-enhancing compounds, which may benefit our own wellbeing. [14]

7. Green Tea Extract


Green tea has been extolled for its healing properties for thousands of years, but only recently has modern western science corroborated what eastern medicine has prescribed all along: green tea does a whole lot of good. 

While perhaps no cure-all, green tea is a pretty good “help-all.” Apart from being rich in antioxidants, it’s a standout among natural mood enhancers and dopamine supplements thanks to L-theanine, an amino acid found generously in green tea. L-theanine has significant effects on mental alertness and arousal—two functions requiring dopamine. [15] Other independent studies of green tea extract have revealed increases in both dopamine and serotonin (another neurotransmitting mood booster). [16]

A cup of green tea, one of the more commonly consumed dopamine supplements, with colorful tea flowers.

8. Rhodiola 


Rhodiola is another plant popularized by traditional eastern medicine. It plays a major role in the central nervous system, and is popular among natural mood boosters for its ability to support reuptake (or, reabsorption) of dopamine. 

Rhodiola has been shown in studies to provide an anti-fatigue effect, leading to increased mental performance and concentration. It also appears to decrease response to the stress hormone cortisol. These results were proven even in cases of burnout or fatigue syndrome. [17

Rhodiola’s ability to help transport dopamine through the blood-brain barrier may further enhance its ability to lift moods.

9. Magnesium


Diet-conscious eaters will recognize magnesium as an important mineral to our overall health. Biochemists may back their claims up with findings highlighting magnesium as an antidepressant. Studies conducted on mice revealed that magnesium may in fact directly modulate dopamine and other neurotransmitters. [18]

10. Ashwagandha


Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of ashwagandha—or if you have a hard time pronouncing it. This amazing adaptogen influences helpful responses among both the body and brain. In studies, ashwagandha was found to decrease cortisol (a stress hormone) and improve mood, validating it as a potential treatment for anxiety. [19]

Ashwagandha also seems to prevent changes caused by oxidopamine, a synthetic neurotoxin that inhibits dopamine production. [20] This suggests that—among the other incredible benefits—this little-known adaptogen may also prevent dopamine levels from plummeting.

11. Ginseng


Behold one of the most badass dopamine supplements on this list: ginseng. For centuries, ginseng has been popular in traditional medicine throughout China, Japan, and Korea, with researches in other countries starting to take note. 

Ginseng is now widely shown to be a promising medicine in the treatment of many disorders of the central nervous system, throughout which dopamine receptors carry messages to our brains. 

A 2012 study in Korea highlighted the incredible potential ginseng possesses as a neurotransmission aid, notably its ability to help depression and lift moods. But also, to treat neurologic and psychiatric disorders, including ADHD and Alsheimer’s, both of which are linked to dopamine imbalance. [21

But you don’t have to have neurological disorders to harness the power of this traditional eastern plant. Ginseng is also shown to increase cognitive performance, moderate behavior, and improve quality of life! [22]

As a bonus, ginseng contains powerful antioxidants and antidepressants, which are being shown to help in the treatment of everything from cancer prevention to aging symptoms. [23]

A woman drinking coffee in her window sill. Caffeine is one of the most common dopamine supplements.

12. Caffeine 


Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world, and an excellent substance for increasing wakefulness and enhancing alertness. As such, it’s one of the best and most accessible natural mood enhancers you can find. And you can find it pretty much anywhere. 

In fact, caffeine is on-par with pharmaceutical dopamine drugs. [24] That caffeine boost we consider to be nothing shy of superpower-ish is actually dopamine stimulating locomotion, arousal, cognition and more. Because of dopamine’s innate reward response to caffeine, we wake up every morning “needing” it in order to transform from a grunting Neanderthal to an alive and (mostly) functional human being. [24]

13. Green Superfood Powder


As the name suggests, superfoods are super nutritious. They provide our bodies with benefits from head to toe, and almost always contain natural mood boosters, known as adaptogens.

Adaptogens, sometimes called “stress-response modifiers” come to our aid when our bodies face stressors like chronic inflammation, metabolic disorders, cancer, age-related diseases, cognitive imbalance, and fatigue. [25]

Skinny Fit Skinny Greens is a superfood blend with an army of adaptogens in each scoop. It’s full of powerful natural mood enhancers that can help stabilize your dopamine levels. 

And guess what!? You’re already familiar with many of them:

Ashwagandha—check ✅
Rhodiola—check ✅
Ginseng—check ✅
Green Tea Leaf Extract—check ✅
Probiotics—check ✅

In fact, Skinny Greens was purposefully formulated with gut-balancers as well, which further help amplify your mood and cognitive function. [26]

SkinnyFit Skinny Greens, a delicious superfood powder, has numerous natural dopamine supplements, including five from this list.

The Bottom Line


People with severe neurological disorders should consult a specialist before incorporating any of these dopamine supplements into their diets.

But, at the end of the day, we can all use a little motivational pick-me-up from time to time. That’s where natural mood boosters come in.

The next time you feel yourself in a slump, try one of these natural dopamine supplements, or a superfood blend with mood boosting powers plus benefits that reach beyond just what’s going on in your head.

 

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