Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that controls your feelings of motivation and reward. Too much or too little dopamine causes immediate imbalances in your health and mood. Long-term, a dopamine imbalance can raise your risk for diseases. As you age, your brain’s ability to uptake dopamine can diminish, causing an age-related dopamine deficiency. You can promote balanced dopamine levels naturally by sticking to the right lifestyle choices and habits.
What Is Dopamine?
As a neurotransmitter, dopamine sends signals through the central nervous system, affecting the way you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. It increases feelings of satisfaction and motivation while improving your ability to concentrate. Dopamine also plays a role in your brain’s directing of voluntary movement.
Dopamine production is triggered when you feel pleasure, exercise, go in the sun, or listen to music. Alcohol and drug consumption increases dopamine levels in an unhealthy way that can lead to addiction.
Are You Dopamine Deficient?
If you have chronically low dopamine levels, you may experience a range of mental and physical symptoms. There’s no test for dopamine levels you can order, and only a physician can make a diagnosis. However, if you’ve been having a number of these symptoms, it may indicate low dopamine:
- lack of focus and motivation
- Challenges with short-term memory
- decreased libido
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Frequent muscle cramps
Can You Have Too Much Dopamine?
Yes, you can have too much dopamine. Having more dopamine than you need can cause mental health problems, such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, aggression, and mania.
Natural Ways to Balance Dopamine Levels
The truth is, there’s no “magic pill” that can increase your dopamine levels. What works is getting enough sleep, working out, and getting the nutrition you need.
Catch Your Z’s
When you don’t get the seven to nine hours of sweet slumber you need every night, your brain won’t have as many dopamine receptors the next day. Take the time to relax and unwind for an hour before bed without exposing your eyes to blue light. Try deep breathing, yoga, or a guided meditation for sleep.
Challenge Your Body
Completing a workout stimulates dopamine production, which you can notice from feelings of greater motivation. Strength training strengthens not just your muscles, but also your central nervous system, improving your resilience to stress. By keeping your stress hormone levels balanced, exercise helps keep your dopamine levels balanced, too.
Get the Nutrition You Need
Deficiencies in vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids can cause low dopamine levels, as both of these nutrients are involved in the brain’s production of dopamine. Be sure to supplement with fish oil and vitamin D if you aren’t sure you’re sufficient. Adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet to support a healthy gut biome also helps balance dopamine production.
Healthy Dopamine Levels Naturally
If you’re looking to shore up a dopamine deficiency, incorporate more vitamin D and omega-3 fats into your diet. Include strength training in your exercise routine and avoid sleep deprivation by getting the eight hours you need. Another natural way to boost dopamine levels is to check things off your to-do list.