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Are you gaining weight, tired yet unable to sleep? Low dopamine could hold the key as to why you sel

Many are familiar with the action of serotonin as neurotransmitter but are less familiar with the role of dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter associated with reward, motivation, memory and movement. If we are low our mood can be low, as is our motivation to make change.

These are just a few of the many symptoms experienced by those suffering with low dopamine levels;

If you are lacking the motivation to get out of bed each morning, have lost all interest in your favourite activities or people, you are drinking endless cups of coffee or wine, crave sugar or cigarettes, you may have a dopamine deficiency. Very few people realise that they’re self-medicating to get a boost of dopamine when they’re engaging in dangerous, addictive and self-destructive behaviours. Stimulants such as nicotine increase dopamine by 200%, cocaine by 400%, and amphetamines by 1,000%. However these only provide a quick boost and end up disrupting the natural dopamine production process in the long-term. This is also one way that sugar becomes addictive.

Tyrosine is an important building block for dopamine and stress increases the demand for tyrosine. Most people are chronically stressed in today's world. Tyrosine also is important for blood pressure regulation, memory, libido and thyroid function.

Tyrosine and can be found in the following food sources;

Animal products Almonds Apples Avocado Bananas Beans

Cheese Egg Pumpkin seeds Fish

Foods high in natural probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut can also increase natural dopamine production. Gut health plays a key role in good mental health, it is one of the most important steps in resolving any mood or motivation issue and is often overlooked. Exercise also has a beneficial effect upon dopamine levels.

Nutrients important for tyrosine use and conversion are magnesium, zinc, B6, folate DHA, buteryate and iodine. This is yet another reason why a varied, healthy diet, gives all of the macro and micronutrients required to achieve health. Sunlight helps to increase our dopamine receptors and provides us with vitamin D, which in turn activates certain genes that release dopamine. Light triggers the release of dopamine in our eyes, which could be the reason behind our screen addictions.

It is always better to get the building blocks through diet, but if you need to supplement doses of between 400-2000 mg are used depending on the circumstances.

Supplementation of tyrosine is contraindicated with certain antidepressants, in pregnancy/ breastfeeding or with certain cancers. Please see a practitioner prior to using to check all of the contra-indications.

Lesley Rix - Naturopath

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