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How to increase dopamine? Try these 5 natural dopamine boosters

Published Oct 6, 2023 | Updated Feb 8, 2024
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The pleasure and reward chemical dopamine is a brain messenger that plays a crucial role in your brain's reward centres. It is responsible for regulating your mood, motivation and alertness. Low levels of dopamine can get you feeling down. Fortunately, there are natural ways to boost dopamine levels. Here are five science-based natural dopamine boosters.

Turn this dopamine-boosting nutrient into motivation

Tyrosine is a nutrient and dopamine’s building block. Eating foods that are rich in tyrosine helps increase dopamine levels[1]. Some of the foods that are high in tyrosine include meat, dairy products, nuts and eggs[2].

Food (per 100g)   Tyrosine content (mg)
Greated Parmesan cheese 1700
Beef steak 1200
Lamb meat 1200
Dried parsley 1150
Raw peanuts 1000
Roasted chicken 990
Salmon 890
Whole egg 410

For your body to be able to produce enough dopamine, brain food full of tyrosine is essential[1,3]. Alternatively, you can also opt for high-quality tyrosine & dopamine supplements to increase dopamine and ensure sufficient intake of tyrosine. brain feed developed the world’s 1st natural 800mg tyrosine capsule from fermented corn. New customers get 15% off their first purchase by using the code ‘NEW15’ at checkout. 

Now that you know how to produce enough dopamine, let’s take a look at how to increase dopamine release. 


Make love to boost your drive

Sex is a pleasurable activity that can release dopamine in the brain. A study published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews found that sexual activity increases dopamine release in the brain's reward centre [4]. Several studies also pointed out dopamine is one of the main brain messengers that trigger sexual motivation, suggesting that the increase of dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system drives you to have sex[5,6,7].


Eat your way to a dopamine gain

Eating good food is another way to boost the release of dopamine in your brain. A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that the pleasure of eating food releases dopamine in the brain's reward centre [8]. This is why we often crave certain foods and feel satisfied after eating them. The pleasure and reward chemical is also involved in reinforcement[9]. That’s why you usually go back for comfort food once you get a taste of it. 

Make a tick to feel the reward

Achieving a goal or completing a task releases a surge of dopamine in your brain as well[10]. 

Furthermore, dopamine release also regulates processes including motivation, learning and decision-making[10,11]. A review of studies on dopamine and cognitive task performance showed that dopamine plays an important role in the effort you put into a task at hand[10]. The more pleasure you anticipate experiencing from it, the bigger your incentive to do the task because dopamine gets released. How does this information come in handy, you ask? Use this trick every time you’re setting a goal for yourself: make sure that you find something pleasurable in the activity you’re planning to trick your dopamine into releasing. So what’s one of your goals that you’ve been putting aside for a while now? That’s your sign to finally start achieving it. 


Indulge in your hobbies to get that dopamine surge

Engaging in pleasurable activities such as listening to music, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in hobbies also releases dopamine in your brain. Apart from hobbies providing a helpful distraction from stressors in your life, they can also make you feel anticipation and excitement, which promotes the release of dopamine[12]. Dr Ciara McCabe, Professor of neuroscience, psychopharmacology, and mental health at the University of Reading believes that getting excited about a hobby kick-starts the cycle where you start to expect to enjoy the experience again which makes you feel even more motivated to seek out that experience[12]. Besides setting your goals, this is also a sign to start a new hobby if you’re currently looking for what to do with your free time.



Dopamine is an essential brain messenger. To make sure it’ll be able to get released during pleasurable activities, boost its building block levels first. After that, go for it!

 

 

References

[1] Kühn, S., Düzel, S., Colzato, L., Norman, K., Gallinat, J., Brandmaier, A. M., Lindenberger, U., & Widaman, K. F. (2019). Food for thought: Association between dietary tyrosine and cognitive performance in younger and older adults. Psychological Research, 83(6), 1097–1106.

[2] Foods highest in Tyrosine (n.d.). MyFoodData. https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrient-ranking-tool/tyrosine/all/highest/grams/common/no

[3] Julson, E. (2023). 10 Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-dopamine

[4] Melis, M. R., & Argiolas, A. (1995). Dopamine and sexual behavior. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 19(1), 19–38.

[5] Calabrò, R. S., Cacciola, A., Bruschetta, D., Milardi, D., Quattrini, F., Sciarrone, F., La Rosa, G., Bramanti, P., & Anastasi, G. (2019). Neuroanatomy and function of human sexual behavior: A neglected or unknown issue? Brain and Behavior, 9(12), e01389. 

[6] Haber, S. N., & Knutson, B. (2010). The Reward Circuit: Linking Primate Anatomy and Human Imaging. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 4–26. 

[7] Haber, S. N. (2011). Neuroanatomy of reward: A view from the ventral striatum. In J. Gottfried (Ed.), Neurobiology of sensation and reward (pp. 235–262). CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.

[8] Volkow, N. D., Wang, G.-J., & Baler, R. D. (2011). Reward, dopamine and the control of food intake: implications for obesity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(1), 37–46. 

[9] New insights into the role of dopamine in reinforcement learning (2022). Oxford Neuroscience. https://www.neuroscience.ox.ac.uk/news/new-insights-into-the-role-of-dopamine-in-reinforcement-learning

[10] Westbrook, A., & Braver, T. S. (2016). Dopamine Does Double Duty in Motivating Cognitive Effort. Neuron, 89(4), 695–710.

[11] Grogan, J. P., Sandhu, T. R., Hu, M. T., & Manohar, S. G. (2020). Dopamine promotes instrumental motivation, but reduces reward-related vigour. ELife, 9, e58321. 

[12] Mikhail, A. (2022). The science behind why you need a hobby to boost your brain health and self-esteem. Fortune Well. https://fortune.com/well/2022/10/16/hobby-to-boost-your-brain-health-and-self-esteem/

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