By Andrea Bartels CNP NNCP RNT
13 Jan 2021
Dopamine: The Get-Up-and-Go-Get-It Chemical
Neurotransmitters are the specialized chemical messengers that communicate between our brain cells. Their actions are largely responsible for our general sense of mental well-being. While serotonin is the "everything is A.O.K." neurotransmitter, giving us a sense of contentment and relaxation, dopamine is responsible for our motivation and goal-setting abilities. Don't confuse it with adrenaline, however. Think of adrenaline as the rocket fuel that supplies you with physical energy and focus during a stressful moment, like when you realize you're late for a meeting--whereas dopamine gives you a desire to complete a task--like get out of bed, go for a run, or make a meal. Without dopamine and adrenaline, we'd be pretty unproductive! Meanwhile, dopamine deficiency can create fatigue, apathy, aimlessness, lack of productivity, addiction and even memory loss.
How to Boost Dopamine Without Drugs
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to increase dopamine levels. Listening to music, performing music, meditating, sleeping and simply getting outside have each been shown to do it. But not all dopamine-boosters are as virtuous. Take coffee, for instance. While caffeine has been shown to improve mental performance and productivity by boosting dopamine, it's also addictive, has short-lived benefits, and does not provide the raw materials for dopamine production.
NUTRIENTS on the other hand, are the building blocks of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. While the amino acid tryptophan is well known as an essential building block of serotonin, its tyrosine AND phenylalanine that are required for the manufacture of dopamine. In addition, our bodies use iron as well as several B complex vitamins including niacin (vitamin B3), folate and vitamin B-6 to make dopamine. These must be obtained orally, whether through adequate dietary intake or nutritional supplementation. While amino acids are readily available in protein-based foods, taking an activated B complex that slowly releases B vitamins throughout the day is a good add-on to the diet for promotion of healthy levels of dopamine in those who aren't achieving adequate levels through other means. PLV Active B Complex SR only needs to be taken once or twice per day because the contents of each capsule release slowly and evenly through the day. You'll know you're making the right amount of dopamine when feel calm, yet focused, motivated, yet not hyper-active.
Boost Energy with NADH and Ubiquinol
Without the energy needed to make things happen, motivation alone won't get us any place. Two nutrients that support the energy needed for this are NADH and ubiquinol. These nutrients are used by each of the body's trillions of cells to produce energy and protect against cellular damage-the latter which gets in the way of achieving healthy energy levels. Studies involving participants with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have shown increases in energy when just 10 milligrams of NADH is supplemented. In fact, an 8-week double-blind study of eighty CFS patients, maximum heart rate became lower and perceived energy higher in the group taking the combo compared to the placebo.
NADH is particularly significant to the brain, heart and muscles-which use the majority of our energy. Although we can make this nutrient from dietary niacin, it doesn't necessary convert efficiently to its metabolically active form (NADH). That's why NADH supplementation may be helpful to those wishing to increase their energy levels. Each capsule of Pure Lab Vitamins' NADH+Ubiquinol formula consists of 40 milligrams of activated CoEnzyme Q10-ubiquinol-and 10 milligrams of NADH-a synergist in energy production.
Achievement of goals starts with setting realistic ones. But if you're not even sure what it is you want to accomplish after a very trying year, start with the intention to get more rest---because energy is sleep-dependent AND nutrient-dependent. Follow this with an inventory of the other dopamine-inducing activities in your life and the adjustments you make can be energizing--- because successes have a way of motivating us further. Happy New Year!
References / Further Reading
Guilarte TR. Effect of vitamin B-6 nutrition on the levels of dopamine, dopamine metabolites, dopa decarboxylase activity, tyrosine, and GABA in the developing rat corpus striatum. Neurochem Res. 1989 Jun;14(6):571-8.
Holford, Patrick. Patrick Holford's New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications, 2009.
Jesus Castro-Marrero et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 plus nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide supplementation on maximum heart rate after exercise testing in chronic fatigue syndrome - A randomized, controlled, double-blind trial. Clinical Nutrition 35:4;Aug.2016, 826-834.
Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68. Published 2016 Jan 27.
Kim J, Wessling-Resnick M. Iron and mechanisms of emotional behavior. J Nutr Biochem. 2014;25(11):1101-1107.
Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, Brooks D, Alving J, Lou HC. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2002 Apr;13(2):255-9.
Salimpoor VN, Benovoy M, Larcher K, Dagher A, Zatorre RJ. Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Feb;14(2):257-62.
Sohn CH, Lam RW. Update on the biology of seasonal affective disorder. CNS Spectr. 2005 Aug;10(8):635-46; quiz 1-14.
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