How is dopamine released in the brain

Dopamine and dopamine deficiency: how do you control the happiness hormone?

Real family meetings, birthday hugs and lunch with colleagues. The thought of it not only gives rise to absolute goose bumps, but also great feelings of happiness. Dopamine is known as the happiness hormone. The messenger substance is linked to the reward system in the brain and controls our motivational power. The good thing: You can influence the dopamine release yourself. Here's how to make yourself happy.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is often referred to as the "happiness hormone". Strictly speaking, the messenger substance is not just a hormone, but also a so-called Neurotransmitters. Dopamine acts through both the bloodstream and the nerve tract. As a neuronal messenger, one of the main functions of dopamine is to activate the reward system in the brain. Dopamine thus promotes our inner drive.

In interaction with the hormones norepinephrine and serotonin, dopamine is also largely responsible for fine motor skills, coordination and concentration.

Dopamine effect

Dopamine unfolds its effect in two ways: The messenger substance supports the brain in the Communication between nerve cells. It forwards stimuli directly: An external impulse is followed by a reaction or sensation: You are sure to know the good feeling immediately after an intensive HIIT unit or after passing an oral exam. (1)

In addition, dopamine reaches target organs further away as a hormone via the bloodstream. The effect occurs with a corresponding time delay. Among other things, dopamine can promote blood circulation in certain areas of the body. Under certain circumstances, this can be vital if the kidneys work after a shock.

The total dopamine release affects both physical as well as mental processes. These include, for example, fine motor skills and agility, concentration, memory as well as feelings such as courage, drive and zest for life.

As a happiness hormone, dopamine is primarily associated with motivation. When your dopamine levels are balanced, you will find it easier to pursue your goals. The reason is simple: Once released, dopamine has a rewarding effect in the brain. (2)

In response to the “feel-good hormone” serotonin, the desire for repetition arises. You stick to a project and continue your exercise program to feel the happiness again.

Since the messenger substance is involved in numerous functions in the body, a lack of dopamine and an excess can quickly have negative effects.

What happens if there is a dopamine deficiency?

As a neurotransmitter, dopamine's central role is to relay information from the brain. If the dopamine level is too low, certain stimuli remain unanswered. That can take the form of Loss of drive, dwindling concentration and a lack of motivation express. Likewise possible consequences are fatigue and memory lapses.

Since dopamine also affects many body functions, a deficiency can increase motor disorders lead to Parkinson's disease. (3)

In those affected, the dopamine level in the brain is up to 90 percent lower than in healthy people.

Outside the brain, dopamine regulates the blood flow in certain areas of the body and stimulates parts of the autonomic nervous system that make the body more willing to perform. A dopamine deficiency can result among other things Digestive problems and energy degradation to make noticable.

Possible symptoms of dopamine deficiency

  • Listlessness
  • severe fatigue and decline in performance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss or decreased memory
  • uncontrolled flow of saliva
  • uncontrolled sweating
  • obstructed digestion and problems urinating
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Movement disorders

Possible causes of dopamine deficiency

  • Blockage of dopamine receptors, for example through psychological stress, environmental influences or genetic predisposition
  • Inadequate supply of the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine, the precursors of dopamine
  • One-sided nutrition, especially insufficient supply of vitamins B6, B12 and C and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Imbalance between dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine

Consequences of excess dopamine

The opposite case, too, can be unhealthy if you have an excess of dopamine. If dopamine is high in the body, it can Perception of feelings influence. The neurotransmitter reacts to external, emotional stimuli. As a rule, only ten percent of this is further processed in the brain.

If there is an excess of dopamine, it can lead to overstimulation. People with an increased concentration of the messenger substance find it difficult to differentiate between relevant and unimportant feelings. As a result, psychological complaints can occur.

Increase dopamine through exercise and diet

Not too much, not too little: In order to benefit from the positive effects of the happiness hormone dopamine, the level in the body should be balanced. You can control the release of dopamine. There are two main levers available to you for this: exercise and nutrition.

Control dopamine with exercise

Some experience their runner’s high, others get into a flow state with yoga. Still others feel better than ever after a session of HIIT. What all these cases have in common: The body produces dopamine and activates the reward system. We feel fit, motivated and encouraged to keep going.

According to studies (4), the release of dopamine is lower 20 minutes of fitness training at the highest, then the curve drops again. A convincing argument to have a quick session every now and then, isn't it?

tip: We have put together the perfect dopamine boosters for you: Our workouts are completely free and guaranteed to make you happy. Stop by and get your portion of happiness hormones!

Discover workouts

Good news for all yogis: According to research (5), six yoga classes per week significantly increase dopamine levels.

Proper nutrition for dopamine levels

In order to have a positive influence on your dopamine level, you should generally pay attention to a balanced diet - with a healthy balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates as well as all important micronutrients and trace elements.

Some foods are particularly beneficial: Omega-3 fatty acids can, for example, strengthen the structure and function of the brain and thus demonstrably (6) also increase the release of dopamine. The fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as in flaxseed.

Are equally important vitamin rich foods, especially with B vitamins and vitamin C. They are found in citrus fruits, berries, but also in whole grains, root vegetables, nuts and potatoes.

tip: Try our vegan omega 3 capsules and the vitamin drops B12 for an optimal supply.

Just as essential is the inclusion of amino acids. In particular, tyrosine and phenylalanine play an important role as precursors of the hormone dopamine. They can be found in eggs, dairy products, legumes, and beef, for example. A protein-rich diet can therefore be an important basis for a happy life.

Other factors for dopamine release

In addition to exercise and diet, there are other factors that can have a positive effect on dopamine release:

  • Healthy intestinal flora: The intestine is often referred to as the “second brain”. No wonder that the intestinal flora can also have an influence on the release of dopamine. It has already been scientifically proven that certain bacterial strains in the intestine control our mood. (7)
  • sleep: A good quality of sleep is essential for our well-being. A lack of sleep has been shown to inhibit the release of dopamine (8).
  • Music: Soothing sounds stimulate activity in the reward center of our brain, where dopamine is mainly released. (9)
  • meditation: According to a study (10), those who meditate regularly can increase their dopamine levels in the long term.
  • Sun: In addition to the production of vitamin D, sunlight has been shown (11) to also promote the release of dopamine in the brain.

Conclusion

  • Dopamine is also known as the happiness hormone.
  • The messenger substances dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine form an important trio for our well-being.
  • Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter: it transmits stimuli in the brain and works through the bloodstream in different areas of the body.
  • The main function of dopamine is the reward effect that follows subjectively positive events or actions.
  • Dopamine has an impact on our motivation, concentration, memory and fine motor skills.
  • Dopamine deficiency can lead to impaired mobility and a drop in mental performance, as well as lack of drive.
  • The happiness hormone can be controlled through exercise, diet and other factors such as sleep, meditation and intestinal health.
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  • (1) https://www.germanjournalsportsmedicine.com/fileadmin/content/archiv2001/heft12/a04_12_01.pdf

     

  • (2) https://d-nb.info/1024873676/34

  • (3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6271/

  • (4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11515738/

  • (5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25012275/

  • (6) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11447405_The_dopamine_mesocorticolimbic_pathway_is_affected_by_deficiency_in_n-3_polyunsaturated_fatty_acids

  • (7) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24997036/

  • (8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3433285/

  • (9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11573015/

  • (10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11958969/

  • (11) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20875835/