As a neurotransmitter, dopamine is an important messenger of the nervous system. Since the substance has a motivating and drive-increasing effect, dopamine is also known as the happiness hormone in colloquial language. Medicine additionally uses the term prolactostatin or PIH.
Table of Contents
- What is dopamine - Dopamine definition?
- How does dopamine work?
- Tasks of dopamine
- Interesting studies
- What problems can a dopamine deficiency cause?
- Is it possible to measure dopamine levels?
- Strategies to increase serotonin levels
- Important cofactors & conclusion about dopamine
Effects of Dopamine:
- Dopamine motivates and spurs you on,
- makes consistently happier and more balanced,
- intoxicates the consumer in overdose,
- puts you in a better mood in the morning,
- can increase performance.
1. what is dopamine?
Dopamine is primarily produced in the dopaminergic neurons of the central nervous system. These neurons are found primarily in the midbrain. In addition, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter in various systems of the autonomic nervous system to regulate blood flow to the internal organs. As a neuromodulatory signal molecule, dopamine primarily influences the excitation of nerve cells by being released during so-called flow experiences. At the same time, it is indispensable for proper signal transmission in the brain and regulatory and control processes in the entire organism.
2 How does dopamine work?
Dopamine exerts its effect via adrenoceptors or dopamine receptors. It increases motivation and drive and has a positive effect on a wide range of physical and mental functions. For example, dopamine has been shown to inhibit the release of prolactin and influence extrapyramidal motor function; the neuroanatomical physiological concept of our organism. This concept controls some of the motor abilities in humans.
Typically, nerve impulses travel along long cellular structures called "axons" in the brain until they reach the presynaptic membrane. These membranes hold the neurotransmitters that are sent out into synaptic clefts, or open spaces, so that another neuron's receptors can receive them. Then, the neuron that picks up the transmitter internalizes it, allowing the nerve impulse to move on with the message.
From various observations, medical science deduces a possible link between a deficiency of this important neurotransmitter and Parkinson's disease. For the time being, experts also assume a possible dopamine deficiency in ADHD.
An excessively high dopamine level, in turn, is often observed together with the psychotic clinical picture of schizophrenia. Normally, the organism with its very complex mechanisms regulates temporarily occurring dopamine surpluses without any problems. However, there are substances, such as cocaine, which lead to an extraordinarily high dopamine release. In these cases, there is a restructuring in the brain that has a negative effect on certain processes and functions, resulting in psychosis.
Dopamine promotes reward expectation
Dopamine promotes general drive and motivation to create a positive feeling through an action. Thus, the neurotransmitter triggers reward expectancy, which motivates people to do things that make them happy. Nutritional supplements support you in preventing a deficiency and provoking opposite reactions such as listlessness.
Exactly this often unconscious expectation of reward also plays an important role in addictions. Substances such as alcohol, cocaine or nicotine enhance the effect of dopamine and the associated consciously or unconsciously perceived feeling of happiness in the same way as certain behaviours are stimulated by the reward system.
Dopamine as an intermediate product of the synthesis of adrenaline and noradrenaline
The human organism synthesizes dopamine from the amino acids phenylalanine or tyrosine, and is an intermediate in the synthesis of adrenaline and noradrenaline. However, in order to initiate dopamine synthesis at all, so-called chromium-affine and thus catecholamine-containing cells are required in which these processes take place. These are located in the hypothalamus, the adrenal medulla and other areas of the nervous system.
Increasing dopamine - can it also be done with food?
It is possible to increase dopamine with special dietary supplements. In addition, you are also able to take in the important messenger substance through food and thus prevent a deficiency.
Dopamine as a feel-good hormone & happiness hormone
The "happiness hormone" dopamine has a longer-lasting effect on the organism than serotonin and increases the feeling of well-being if the concentration is high enough - this is why it is also called the feel-good hormone or happiness hormone. You feel fit, alert and simply good.
In this case, it is ensured that your body produces enough dopamine. To maintain this state, there are various ways to counteract a possible lack of dopamine or to treat an existing dopamine deficiency.
Dietary supplements are one of them, as well as specific behaviors that prevent a deficiency of this important happiness hormone.
3. tasks of dopamine
- Control of reward and pleasure centers
- Coordinate attention and learning processes
- Adjust sleep and general mood
- Behavior and cognition
- Movement and emotional responses
4. interesting studies
The way the brain handles dopamine can predict whether you're a hard worker or a slacker, new research shows.
"The range of motivation of successful people is partly due to how the dopamine system works," says researcher Michael Treadway, PhD, a clinical fellow at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The new research reflects and reinforces some previous research, Treadway says. The findings could have important implications for treating conditions characterized by decreased motivation, such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
5 What problems can a dopamine deficiency cause?
If there is a pathological dopamine deficiency, this is primarily manifested by motor and psychological problems. An unexplained and persistent tremor can be just as much a sign of a dopamine deficiency as muscle stiffness or unsteadiness when walking or standing. The so-called voluntary motor activity also shows itself to be more or less slowed down.
From a psychological point of view, the inability to concentrate, memory problems and listlessness and listlessness up to real depression are possible signs of a dopamine deficiency. But also bladder disorders, seizure-like sweating or swallowing disorders are among the symptoms.
6 Can the dopamine level be measured?
The dopamine level is determined in several ways, whereby such an examination is primarily carried out if a rare tumour of the adrenal gland is suspected. In this case, the doctor measures the concentration of dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline in the urine. Like the urine test, the blood test only has a certain significance if the values are elevated.
This is mainly due to the fact that every person has a different dopamine value at which they feel well. Therefore, it has not yet been possible to standardize values for a proven deficiency. In addition, the measures before and during the measurement are very costly.
At the current time, the standard value for adults in urine concentrations is less than 620 µg/d; for blood plasma, it is reported as 50 picograms per milliliter.
7. strategies to increase serotonin levels
As a rule, the body regulates the amount of dopamine on its own, without the active assistance of humans. Nevertheless, you can prevent a dopamine deficiency through various measures.
If you tend to be deficient in this important messenger substance, the first step is to get enough sleep and reduce chronic stress through relaxation exercises or exercise therapy. Ideally, you should avoid permanent stress completely for the sake of your health. In the dark season, light therapy has proven its worth in the Nordic countries, while nutritional supplements provide additional support.
Supply of dopamine through nutrition
Another measure against dopamine deficiency is individual nutritional supplementation combined with a balanced diet. A healthy and varied diet consisting of fresh ingredients and containing sufficient fruit and vegetables is already a first step against dopamine deficiency. For example, omega-3 fatty acids, which are also available as a dietary supplement, support the production of the important messenger substance, as do foods with a high tyrosine content.
It becomes more uncomplicated with the appropriate dietary supplement against dopamine deficiency. It is especially useful if you don't have the time to regularly prepare healthy food yourself.
Or you are on the road a lot and eat mainly in canteens and other catering establishments; with the right nutritional supplement you can additionally prevent dopamine deficiency.
Food supplement against dopamine deficiency?
Every person needs a sufficiently high dopamine production. Only then he is efficient, feels all around well and happy. Unfortunately, in modern times we are all too often in recurring stressful situations, find too little time for relaxation and sleep or to eat healthy. You can reliably prevent dopamine deficiency with a dietary supplement that is consciously tailored to your own needs.
8. important cofactors & conclusion on dopamine
The precursor amino acids for dopamine are L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine. These are converted to L-DOPA and eventually dopamine with tetrahydrobiopterin, oxygen, iron, and the active form of B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) as cofactors.
Dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH) is a neurotransmitter synthesizing enzyme that catalyzes the formation of norepinephrine from dopamine.
Thus, the following cofactors result for dopamine:
- B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate)
Conclusion about dopamine
Although there are billions of neurons in the brain, they don't actually make contact. Therefore, it is the job of neurotransmitters - like dopamine - to carry messages back and forth. Since transmitters can affect certain areas of the brain, including mood and behavior, any mistake can trigger anxiety, aggression, mood swings, and so on.
Drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine, or amphetamines, which result in a very high release of dopamine, cause an imbalance of the Natural Dopamine balance in the brain and nervous system. So to speak "artificially" "too many" feelings of happiness are caused by the messenger substances, which leads to the dopamine receptors absorbing more than necessary amounts of the happiness hormone. As a rule, the hormone balance is disturbed by such consumption and the dopamine balance must first stabilize over a longer period of time in the absence of the drug or substance.
For this it is advisable to approach the whole thing as a real, long-term dopamine fast or "dopamine detox". And if you're at risk of addiction, stay away from substances altogether that cause dopamine levels to rise rapidly.
So transmitters like dopamine allow messages to travel between neurons in the brain. When they are disrupted, the messages either return to the transmitter or are lost altogether. The result of disrupted neurotransmitters can be depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, as well as a tendency toward substance dependence.