You know how people often say you just don’t have the energy you used to have as you get older? As the old joke says, “My get up and go got up and went.” People seem to think it’s inevitable.
But it’s not.
Waning energy and lack of motivation could be symptoms of a deficiency of an essential neurotransmitter. It’s a common thing that happens to people over 50.
If you’ve been feeling like the thrill is gone, read on for an illuminating explanation and how to reverse it.
The essential neurotransmitter I’m talking about is dopamine.
What Dopamine Is And Why You Need It
Dopamine is a feel-good hormone and a neurotransmitter, along with serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. It’s sometimes called the “motivation molecule” because it’s associated with the pleasure-seeking and rewards part of the brain.
A balanced amount of dopamine in the brain keeps you focused, energized and motivated. But dopamine levels can naturally taper off as the body ages.1
And falling levels contribute to a host of symptoms we’re tempted to pass off as simply “getting older.” But a long-term dopamine deficiency can lead to more serious problems. And conventional doctors tend not to test dopamine levels.
Signs of a Dopamine Deficiency
Low levels of this hormone can make it hard to concentrate and stay focused. It may also contribute to addictive behaviors, because people chase the thrill of dopamine they get from things like extreme sports, danger, sex and artificial stimulants.
Other symptoms of a dopamine deficiency include:
- Mood swings
- Low motivation or apathy
- Forgetfulness/brain fog
- Irritability and/or an inability to handle stress
- Low libido
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
You can see how some of these may be considered symptoms of “old age,” but you should not accept them as the way things are, because if left untreated a dopamine deficiency can contribute to cognitive decline, dementia and loss of motor skills.2
Most famously, dopamine deficiency plays a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease and the related Parkinson’s disease dementia.3
One study published in The Journal of Neuroscience also found that dopamine deficiency contributes to vision loss in rodents with Type 1 diabetes. The study found that increasing dopamine levels may help reduce the risk of early vision loss.4
How to Ensure Your Dopamine Levels are High and Healthy
If you suspect you or someone you love is suffering from a dopamine deficiency, you may want to see an endocrinologist or integrative physician and have your levels tested.
There are simple steps you can take to boost your dopamine levels and ensure they stay balanced and healthy.
One way is through diet. Increase your intake of foods rich in tyrosine, an amino acid that acts as a building block for dopamine. Foods that can increase dopamine levels are. . .
- Meat, including poultry, eggs and wild game like buffalo and quail
- Shellfish, fish and seafood
- Raw cocoa powder or very dark chocolate
- Seeds and nuts
- Turmeric and curcumin
- Leafy green vegetables5
Other substances that help boost dopamine, which you can find in high-quality supplements include. . .
- Vitamin D8
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, please don’t chalk it up to getting older. To successfully defeat aging and extend your happy, healthy life as long as possible, be sure your hormones and neurotransmitters are balanced and running efficiently.
- Aging produces a specific pattern of striatal dopamine loss: Implications for the etiology of idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-4159.1992.tb09766.x/full
- The correlative triad among aging, dopamine, and cognition: Current status and future prospects. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763406000492
- Multiple modality biomarker prediction of cognitive impairment in prospectively followed de novo Parkinson disease. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0175674
- Dopamine deficiency contributes to early visual dysfunction in a rodent model of type 1 diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3891954/
- Dopamine deficiency, depression and , mental health. https://bebrainfit.com/dopamine-deficiency/
- Zinc regulates the dopamine transporter in a membrane potential and chloride dependent manner. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19000913
- Brain iron and dopamine receptor function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6138953
- Vitamin D3: A role in dopamine circuit regulation, diet-induced obesity, and drug consumption. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4875352/