How To Increase Dopamine With Supplements
12 Dopamine Supplements to Boost Your Mood
Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that plays a role in the regulation of cognition, memory, motivation, mood, attention, and learning.
It also aids in decision-making and sleep regulation (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
Under normal circumstances, dopamine production is managed effectively by your body’s nervous system. However, there are various lifestyle factors and medical conditions that can cause dopamine levels to plummet.
Symptoms of low dopamine levels include loss of pleasure in things that you once found enjoyable, lack of motivation, and apathy (3Trusted Source).
Here are 12 dopamine supplements to boost your mood.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that line your digestive tract. They help your body function properly.
Also known as the good gut bacteria, probiotics not only benefit gut health but may also prevent or treat various health problems, including mood disorders (4Trusted Source).
In fact, while harmful gut bacteria have been shown to decrease dopamine production, probiotics have the ability to increase it, which may boost mood (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Several rat studies have shown increased dopamine production and improved mood and anxiety with probiotic supplements (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Additionally, one study in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that those who received probiotic supplements had a reduction in depressive symptoms, compared to those who received a placebo (10Trusted Source).
While probiotic research is rapidly evolving, further studies are needed to fully understand the effect of probiotics on mood and dopamine production.
You can add probiotics to your diet by consuming fermented food products, such as yogurt or kefir, or taking a dietary supplement.
SUMMARYProbiotics are important not only for digestive health but also for many functions in your body. They’ve been shown to increase dopamine production and improve mood in both animal and human studies.
2. Mucuna Pruriens
Mucuna pruriens is a type of tropical bean native to parts of Africa, India, and Southern China (11Trusted Source).
These beans are often processed into a dried powder and sold as dietary supplements.
The most significant compound found in Mucuna pruriens is an amino acid called levodopa (L-dopa). L-dopa is needed for your brain to produce dopamine (12Trusted Source).
Research has shown that Mucuna pruriens helps boost dopamine levels in humans, particularly those with Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder that affects movement and is caused by a dopamine deficiency (13Trusted Source).
In fact, studies have indicated that Mucuna pruriens supplements may be just as effective as certain Parkinson’s medications at increasing dopamine levels (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Mucuna pruriens may also be effective in boosting dopamine levels in those without Parkinson’s disease.
For example, one study found that taking 5 grams of Mucuna pruriens powder for three months increased dopamine levels in infertile men (16Trusted Source).
Another study found that Mucuna pruriens had an antidepressant effect in mice due to an increase in dopamine production (17Trusted Source).
SUMMARYMucuna pruriens has been shown to be effective in increasing dopamine levels in both humans and animals and may have an antidepressant effect.
3. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is a plant native to China that has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for various health conditions.
Although research is inconsistent, ginkgo supplements may improve mental performance, brain function, and mood in certain people.
Some studies have found that supplementing with Ginkgo biloba in the long term increased dopamine levels in rats, which helped improve cognitive function, memory, and motivation (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
One test-tube study showed that Ginkgo biloba extract appeared to increase dopamine secretion by reducing oxidative stress (21Trusted Source).
These preliminary animal and test-tube studies are promising. However, further research is needed before scientists can determine if Ginkgo biloba also increases dopamine levels in humans.
SUMMARYGinkgo biloba supplements have been shown to increase dopamine levels in animal and test-tube studies. However, further research is needed to conclude whether ginkgo is successful in increasing levels in humans.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin comes in capsule, tea, extract and powdered forms.
It’s thought to have antidepressant effects, as it increases the release of dopamine (22Trusted Source).
One small, controlled study found that taking 1 gram of curcumin had similar effects as that of Prozac on improving mood in people with major depressive disorder (MDD) (23Trusted Source).
There is also evidence that curcumin increases dopamine levels in mice (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed to understand curcumin’s role in increasing dopamine levels in humans and its use in the management of depression.
SUMMARYCurcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. It has been shown to increase dopamine levels in mice and may have antidepressant effects.
5. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil has various antioxidant and antibacterial properties that are likely due to its active ingredient, carvacrol (26Trusted Source).
One study showed that ingesting carvacrol promoted dopamine production and provided antidepressant effects in mice as a result (27Trusted Source).
Another study in mice found that oregano extract supplements inhibited the deterioration of dopamine and induced positive behavioral effects (28Trusted Source).
While these animal studies are encouraging, more human studies are warranted to determine whether oregano oil provides similar effects in people.
SUMMARYOregano oil supplements have been proven to increase levels of dopamine and produce antidepressant effects in mice. Human-based research is lacking.
Magnesium plays a vital role in keeping your body and mind healthy.
Magnesium and its antidepressant qualities are still not fully understood, but there is evidence that magnesium deficiency may contribute to decreased dopamine levels and an increased risk of depression (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
What’s more, one study showed that supplementing with magnesium boosted dopamine levels and produced antidepressant effects in mice (31Trusted Source).
Currently, research on the effects of magnesium supplements on dopamine levels is limited to animal studies.
However, if you’re unable to get enough magnesium from your diet alone, taking a supplement may be a good idea to ensure you’re meeting your requirements.
SUMMARYMost research is limited to animal studies, but magnesium deficiency may contribute to low dopamine levels. Taking a magnesium supplement can help.
7. Green Tea
Green tea has long been touted for its antioxidant properties and nutrient content.
It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which directly affects your brain (32Trusted Source).
L-theanine can increase certain neurotransmitters in your brain, including dopamine.
Multiple studies have shown that L-theanine increases dopamine production, thus causing an antidepressant effect and enhancing cognitive function (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34).
Additionally, studies suggest that both green tea extract and frequent consumption of green tea as a beverage can increase dopamine production and are associated with lower rates of depressive symptoms (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
SUMMARYGreen tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has been shown to increase dopamine levels.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D has many roles in your body, including the regulation of certain neurotransmitters like dopamine (37Trusted Source).
One study showed decreased dopamine levels in vitamin-D-deprived mice and improved levels when supplementing with vitamin D3 (38Trusted Source).
Since research is limited, it’s difficult to say whether vitamin D supplements would have any effect on dopamine levels without an existing vitamin D deficiency.
Preliminary animal studies show promise, but human studies are needed to better understand the relationship between vitamin D and dopamine in people.
SUMMARYWhile animal studies show promise, human studies are needed to see if vitamin D supplements increase dopamine levels in those with vitamin D deficiency.
9. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements primarily contain two types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Many studies have discovered that fish oil supplements have antidepressant effects and are linked to improved mental health when taken regularly (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
These benefits may be attributed in part to fish oil’s influence on dopamine regulation.
For instance, one rat study observed that a fish-oil-enriched diet increased dopamine levels in the frontal cortex of the brain by 40% and enhanced dopamine binding capabilities (42Trusted Source).
However, more human-based research is needed to make a definitive recommendation.
SUMMARYFish oil supplements may increase dopamine levels in the brain and prevent and treat depressive symptoms.
Studies have found that caffeine can boost cognitive performance, including by enhancing the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
It’s thought that caffeine improves brain function by increasing dopamine receptor levels in your brain (45Trusted Source).
However, your body can develop a tolerance to caffeine, meaning it learns how to process increased amounts.
Therefore, you may need to consume more caffeine than you did before to experience the same effects (46Trusted Source).
SUMMARYCaffeine is linked to increased dopamine levels by enhancing dopamine receptors in your brain. Over time, you may develop a greater tolerance for caffeine and may need to increase your consumption to have the same effects.
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times.
Its root can be eaten raw or steamed, but it’s also available in other forms, such as tea, capsules, or pills.
Studies have shown that ginseng may enhance brain skills, including mood, behavior, and memory (47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source).
Many animal and test-tube studies indicate that these benefits may be due to ginseng’s ability to increase dopamine levels (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
It has also been suggested that certain components in ginseng, such as ginsenosides, are responsible for the increase of dopamine in the brain and for beneficial effects on mental health, including cognitive function and attention (52Trusted Source).
One study on the effects of Korean red ginseng on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children observed that lower levels of dopamine were associated with symptoms of ADHD.
The children involved in the study received 2,000 mg of Korean red ginseng daily for eight weeks. At the end of the study, the results showed that ginseng improved attention in children with ADHD (53Trusted Source).
However, further studies are needed to draw definite conclusions about the extent to which ginseng enhances dopamine production and brain function in humans.
SUMMARYMany animal and test-tube studies have shown an increase in dopamine levels after supplementing with ginseng. Ginseng may increase dopamine levels in humans, especially those with ADHD, but more research is needed.
Berberine is an active component present in and extracted from certain plants and herbs.
It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years and has recently gained popularity as a natural supplement.
Several animal studies show that berberine increases dopamine levels and may help fight depression and anxiety (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source, 57Trusted Source).
Currently, there is no research on the effects of berberine supplements on dopamine in humans. Therefore, more research is needed before recommendations can be made.
SUMMARYMany studies show that berberine increases dopamine levels in the brains of mice. However, further research is needed to fully understand the effects of berberine and dopamine levels in humans.
Special Considerations and Side Effects
It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before adding any supplement to your daily routine.
This is especially true if you have a medical condition or if you’re on any medications.
Generally, the risk associated with taking the above supplements is relatively low. They all have good safety profiles and low toxicity levels in low-to-moderate dosages.
The primary possible side effects of some of these supplements are related to digestive symptoms, such as gas, diarrhea, nausea, or stomach pain.
Headaches, dizziness, and heart palpitations have also been reported with certain supplements, including ginkgo, ginseng, and caffeine (58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source).
SUMMARYIt’s important to talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements and stop using them if negative side effects or medication interactions occur.
The Bottom Line
Dopamine is an important chemical in your body that influences many brain-related functions, such as mood, motivation, and memory.
Generally, your body regulates dopamine levels well on its own, but some medical conditions and diet and lifestyle choices can lower your levels.
Along with eating a balanced diet, many possible supplements may help boost dopamine levels, including probiotics, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, ginkgo, and ginseng.
This, in turn, could help improve brain function and mental health.
Each of the supplements on this list has a good safety profile when used properly. However, some supplements may interfere with certain prescription or over-the-counter medications.
It’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine if certain supplements are right for you.
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