The Science of Optimal Cognition & Mood-Boosting Powers of Dopamine


Everyday life is so stressful that it’s understandable many people try to find ways to feel and perform better. In these modern times, there is a plethora of ways to enhance your mood and overall confidence. While these techniques, in some cases, may be effective, it’s still best to opt for those that are backed by science.

One sure-fire way to boost your mood and make you feel younger is a good old dopamine boost. In this article we will talk about the best ways in which you could stimulate the production and mobilisation of dopamine in the brain.

What is dopamine?

The human body essentially holds a cocktail of neurotransmitters that help regulate and maintain body processes, cognition and mood. These neurotransmitters relay signals across the nerve gaps in order to produce excitatory (the kind that triggers) or inhibitory (the kind that prevents) effects. Depending on the specific type of neurotransmitter and the pathway it travels, these substances cause a significant effect to your general mood or feeling.

Of the many neurotransmitters produced by the body, one of the most important is called dopamine. This substance is an excitatory neurotransmitter greatly responsible for a person feeling happy, content and motivated. The more dopamine that accumulates in the body, the greater the feeling of euphoria a person will have.


Aside from making you feel better, dopamine also brings other benefits. One of these is increased focus or concentration. When dopamine levels are high in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, a person will be pushed to enjoy and concentrate on the things he normally would not want to do and learning is enhanced.

Moreover, dopamine is also important in terms of improving a person’s motivation. As dopamine travels a particular route in the body called the mesolimbic pathway, they may accumulate in an area called nucleus acumbens. When this happens, the brain will know that most likely, something important will occur. In turn, it will trigger the person to act on it.

Side Effects of Low Dopamine Levels

So how do you know a person is lacking dopamine in the body? You can do so by observing their mood. The most prominent signs are the inability or difficulty to focus or experience pleasure, frequent irritability, anti-social behaviour and extreme mood swings. Even when external factors come in play to help boost a person’s mood, without adequate dopamine production, it will be hard to make a person feel happy about their life.

Another repercussion of low dopamine is the inability to get motivated, which may result in frequent procrastination. And even though a person does not do anything at all because of this condition, they will still feel lethargic and exhausted as the negative mood saps away one’s physical energy.

Moreover, dopamine insufficiency may also lead to serious neurological problems such as memory loss and even more serious illnesses like Parkinson’s disease.


How To Boost Dopamine Levels

Knowing the benefits of dopamine, you would definitely want to up its levels in your brain, right?

Tyrosine-rich Foods

One of the ways to do this is by eating foods that are rich in tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that is needed as a prerequisite for dopamine production. In the body, this substance is converted to L-Dopa, which directly influences dopamine production.

Some of the most common sources of tyrosine include meat, dairy, avocados, watermelon, chocolate, bananas, and apples.

Mucuna Puriens

Mucuna Puriens, also called velvet bean, is a slightly better source of dopamine compared to tyrosine-rich foods. This is because mucuna puriens contains natural L-Dopa, which as discussed earlier is directly related to dopamine production.

Ingesting this substance will enable the body to synthesise and mobilise dopamine more rapidly.

In addition to the usual effects of mucuna puriens in increasing the quantity of dopamine in the body, this substance also favours the secretion of growth hormone. This hormone does not only affect physical growth but is also related in the maintenance of optimal body fat, muscle mass, and bone density.

When kept at the right levels, these factors will keep a person younger-looking. People who have reached the adolescent stage in particular should take mucuna puriens because after puberty, the levels of growth hormone in the body sharply decline.

Moreover, mucuna puriens also indirectly contributes to a younger-looking physique by means of influencing the release of testosterone. And with higher testosterone in the bloodstream, body metabolism will be at the right level. Not only that, it also significantly increases a person’s libido. All in all, mucuna is probably the best supplement for dopamine out there!

Cold Exposure

Oftentimes, when you take a cold shower, you feel invigorated, right? This is because low temperatures stimulate dopamine mobilisation in the body via the utilisation of the mesocorticolimbic and nigrostrial pathways in the brain.

When dopamine is transmitted through these routes, it creates a joyful sensation that lingers through an extended amount of time. In fact, a study conducted by researchers has shown positive results regarding treatment of depression by making subjects take cold showers.

Delving deeper, exposure to cold water is not only good for a person’s mental health but also for his overall physical condition. It boosts immune function, improves the body’s circulatory function, removes toxins, and increases metabolic rate. These benefits all contribute to the slowing down of wear and tear of the physical body, thereby keeping a younger-looking physique.

Green Tea and Other Stimulants

Stimulant beverages like coffee also play a role in dopamine production. Stimulants typically contain caffeine which boosts brain function. Subsequently, with increased brain activity, the synthesis of catecholamines in the body also increases. Catecholamines are the larger group of related substances to which dopamine belong. Additionally, being a psychoactive compound, caffeine also competes with adenosine to prevent the feeling of sleepiness.

A better alternative to coffee is green tea. Basically, its effects are similar to that of coffee, only its side effects are less. The reason for this is the substance known as L-Theanine. This, combined with caffeine in matcha tea, sharply improves a person’s concentration, mental function, as well as cognition without feeling overstimulated. Moreover, matcha green tea also aids in the burning of body fat and enhancement of metabolic rate.



The simple truth is, it’s not always easy to get all the dopamine you need just by diet alone. For that to happen, you usually have to eat a lot of food. However, you should opt to take dopamine supplements such as mucuna and green tea extract. These provide L-Dopa or other precursors needed for increasing dopamine production in the body. They are easily available on the market and would give you that dopamine boost you’re wishing for.


Problems with dopamine production can hamper your job performance and even lead to poor quality of life. Finding ways to make sure that your body has optimum dopamine levels by way of the right food or dopamine supplements can help fix those problems and make your life more productive!


alex-eriksson-anabolic-healthArticle by Alex Eriksson: founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on The Ultimate Guide to Manly Cooking or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.