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Dopamine is a very ubiquitous neurotransmitter that regulates memory, motor control (physical movement and coordination), and of course, pleasure/reward circuits. IT can be either excitatory or inhibitory, depending on the location in the brain and the types of dopamine receptors it is binding to. It’s basic building block, the amino acid tyrosine, is also a building block for other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and epinephrine. They are all part of a group called catecholamines. They are stored in the vesicles of the axon terminal of the nerve cell.

We need adequate dopamine amounts in order to be able focus, especially in the moment and on the task in hand (attention deficit is at least in due to low dopamine levels, remember). Dopamine is also the main player in keeping our reward circuitry and pleasure center in check (hence the possible addiction from dopamine level abnormalities).

Both too much and too little of dopamine can cause significant clinical issues. Greatly elevated levels are called a “dopamine storm”, and can be associated with hallucinations, delusions, agitation, mania, and frank psychosis. Fortunately this state is quite rare, but it constitutes a clinical emergency. Having too little dopamine, oppositely, is quite common and one can go years without it being identified, let alone treated.


When you have low dopamine levels, it can lead to depression, loss of motor control, loss of satisfaction,  addictions, cravings, compulsions, low sex drive, and poor attention and focus. Now when dopamine levels are too elevated, you can end up having anxiety, paranoia and hyperactivity.

Here are symptoms of too little dopamine:

  • Do you often feel depressed, flat, bored, and apathetic?
  • Are you low on physical or mental energy? Do you feel tired a lot and have to push yourself to exercise or otherwise be productive?
  • Is your drive, enthusiasm, and motivation much lower than you would like them to be?
  • Do you have difficulty focusing or concentrating?
  • Are you easily cold such as having cold hands or feet?
  • Do you tend to put on weight easily despite a healthy diet?
  • Do you feel the need to get more alert and motivated by consuming a lot of coffee or other “energizers” like sugar, diet soda, ephedra, or cocaine?

If you have quite a few of these symptoms, you may have low dopamine; we suggest you test your dopamine levels with the NeuroAdrenal Profile test. All it is is a simple urine test.


For our office-based patients, we usually will recommend the NeuroAdrenal Profile test. It is a very comprehensive assessment of your neurotransmitter levels as well as your general adrenal function. We  may use this panel if your clinical picture (such as profound fatigue and foggy thinking) or personal history (such as trauma, chronic stress, pain, fibromyalgia, PTSD, chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammation) suggest a likely component of adrenal fatigue or exhaustion.

Related Products (always talk with your primary care physician first)

  • DOPA Maxx 120 caps Dopamine Supplement: This is a supplement that is designed and may help increase your body’s ability to make the various catecholamines, such as dopamine by providing more L-tyrosine (remember: the basic amino acid building block). This is a long-term and incremental solution to the rebuilding of depleted dopamine or norepinephrine quantities. The goal is to maintain healthy levels of these crucial neurotransmitters, especially if the individual has high levels of anxiousness and fatigue (the “wired-and-tired” profile).
  • DOPA Maxx ES – Extra Strength Dopamime Supplement – We take great pride in this formula.  It aims to replenish dopamine much more quickly and other activating neurotransmitters.  It is intended to improve energy, alertness, pleasure and satisfaction, libido, emotional well-being, and physical mobility.  We take caution though, (initially at least), for those who have prominent anxiousness as part of their clinical picture (in which case the smaller amounts in the Dopa Maxx is a better choice).



Stress, certain anti-depressants, drug use, poor diet and sleep can all deplete dopamine. Dopamine activity in the brain seems to be increased from alcohol, caffeine, and sugar (though these are often incredibly temporary increases).

Food sources that can increase tyrosine, and thus dopamine, include almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.

Dopamine is a chemical that oxidizes very easily. You may want to eat foods that are high in antioxidants to help protect the dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage. Many healthcare professionals recommend supplementing with vitamin C and E, and other such antioxidants.

Foods like sugar, trans fat, cholesterol, and refined foods interfere with proper long-term brain function, and (while they may seem to increase dopamine levels very temporarily) they will lower dopamine levels overall. Reducing trans fat and cholesterol is also a good idea as it can clog the arteries leading to the brain, heart and other organs.

People with depression may also benefit from lowering or eliminating caffeine. It is a temporary stimulant that will only increase neurotransmission, serotonin levels, and thus mood in the short-term. But it may inhibit it overall.


The precursors to dopamine consist of many different types of specific amino acids. Because of our modern diet or our brain just not best being able to utilize them to the best they could, neurotransmitters may not be supplied in sufficient amounts. Stress then can further deplete the supplies. In addition to an improved diet, dopamine supplements may be helpful to creating a healthy balance in the brain.  Dopamine supplements can increase dopamine naturally with little to no side effects (always talk to your doctor though before taking any supplement).

Dopamine Products

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  • balance d 60 caps by neuroscience

    Balance D 60 caps by NeuroScience

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  • Cogniben

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  • DOPA Maxx

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  • DOPA Maxx ES Extra Strength Dopamine Supplement

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  • DopaPlus 180c by Pure Encapsulations

    DopaPlus 180c by Pure Encapsulations

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