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Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a role in our mood, attention, learning, motivation, and memory. Dopamine is also important in sleep regulation and decision-making. Usually, your body’s nervous system manages dopamine production, but there are medical conditions and lifestyle factors that may cause declines in dopamine levels. For some people, an L-dopa supplement may be helpful.
- L-dopa is a dopamine precursor
- Using an L-dopa supplement can increase dopamine levels in your body
- L-dopa is also known as levodopa, and it’s a key ingredient in many Parkinson’s treatments
- L-dopa is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and convert to dopamine
What is Dopamine Deficiency?
Dopamine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter.
As a neurotransmitter, dopamine transmits nerve signals, and it also helps send messages throughout our body. As such, dopamine plays an important role in how your brain can send nerve signals.
Some of the functions that dopamine plays a role in include:
Dopamine deficiency is linked to Parkinson’s deficiency, addiction, and schizophrenia.
Signs of low dopamine can be widely varied and may include:
- Problems with concentration or motivation
- Memory lapses
- Restless leg syndrome
- Shaking hands or tremors
- Low sex drive
- Symptoms of ADHD
- Inability to feel pleasure
There are different factors linked to dopamine deficiency including lifestyle and genetics. Your overall health, chronic medical conditions, and age can lead to low dopamine.
How to Increase Dopamine
There isn’t an official diagnosis of low dopamine, but rather, it’s considered part of other illnesses. A blood test can determine how much dopamine is in the blood, but there isn’t a test to see how the brain responds to dopamine.
If you believe you have low dopamine levels, you can speak to your doctor about lifestyle changes you could make to help improve your levels and how well the brain uses it.
Lifestyle changes that may be beneficial if you have low dopamine include taking vitamin D and omega-3 supplements, using a magnesium supplement, and also getting enough physical activity.
What about L-Dopa?
Along with lifestyle changes, if you do think you have symptoms of low dopamine, you should speak to your doctor about an L-dopa supplement.
L-dopa is an amino acid that’s produced by the amino acid L-tyrosine in humans.
L-dopa is a direct dopamine precursor.
There are drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease with L-dopa, but there are also L-dopa supplements available. The most well-known and best L-dopa supplement is mucuna pruriens.
L-dopa is unique from dopamine because it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Dopamine is broken down before it can reach the brain. What that means is that L-dopa has the potential to make it to your brain and then, once there, increase dopamine levels.
What is the Best L-Dopa Supplement?
As was touched on, the best L-dopa supplement is mucuna pruriens. Mucuna pruriens is also known as the dopa bean. Long used in Ayurveda, this adaptogen may help reduce stress, boost libido, improve mood and also increase focus.
Mucuna pruriens contains high natural levels of L-dopa.
Mucuna pruriens, as a result, is sometimes called the magic bean and also the velvet bean.
When you use an L-dopa supplement like mucuna pruriens, it can help support your body’s natural dopamine production.
L-dopa is used to treat Parkinson’s disease in prescription medications. As far as supplement form, L-dopa is used to help with depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
L-dopa benefits from using a mucuna pruriens supplement can include:
- Research in 2014 found that mucuna pruriens was effective at reducing anxiety in rats. Researchers found significant anti-anxiety effects.
- Mucuna pruriens can help treat depression and stress.
- Since L-dopa can boost learning and reaction time, taking mucuna pruriens may help with cognition and productivity. There was a study of adults who were given a 200 mg dose of synthetic L-dopa, and it improved their visual reaction time. A separate study found L-dopa improved new-word learning in adults.
- L-dopa benefits may include decreased cortisol levels.
- In research, men given L-dopa supplements like mucuna pruriens were found to have improved semen quality and sperm count.
If you take an L-dopa supplement such as mucuna pruriens, what dosage should you take?
Read the instructions of the supplement itself. However, you can usually take an L-dopa dosage of up to 1,000 mg a day without any side effects. Any higher than that and you may experience side effects.
When you take an L-dopa supplement, you should also cycle on and off so that you don’t become tolerant to the effects. For example, take an L-dopa supplement four or five days a week, and then take the other two days off.
There are certain supplements you can take with L-dopa to improve its effects. L-tyrosine is one that you should stack with L-dopa. You should also take Rhodiola and N-Acetyl Cysteine.
Are There Any L-Dopa Side Effects to Be Aware Of?
When you take a supplement, L-dopa side effects are usually pretty minimal.
The most common L-dopa side effects are nausea and abdominal bloating. Other potential side effects of L-dopa are insomnia, headache, and confusion, but side effects are rare.
If you have cardiovascular disease, you may need to avoid L-dopa supplements because it can cause low blood pressure upon standing, fainting, and dizziness. L-dopa can also reduce blood sugar levels.
If you have a diagnosed mental illness, L-dopa could worsen it.
There are some interactions an L-dopa supplement can have with other medications.
For example, if you take an MAOI for depression, it could interfere with an L-dopa supplement.
Before taking anything, including an L-dopa supplement, speak to your doctor.
The Best L-Dopa Supplements of 2020
The following are some of our top picks for the best L-dopa supplements available right now.
- This L-dopa supplement is standardized to 20% L-dopa
- Supports healthy anxiety and stress levels
- May improve mood, focus, and motivation
- 1000 mg of L-dopa per serving
- Vegan, Non-GMO and gluten-free
- According to reviews, this L-dopa supplement helps with focus throughout the workday
- May increase libido according to user reviews
- Some describe this L-dopa supplement as life-changing
Naturebell Mucuna with Ashwagandha
- 1500 mg of L-dopa supplement per serving
- Made with organic mucuna and ashwagandha
- 30% natural L-dopa
- Stacked with ashwagandha to further support mental health including mood and the nervous system
- According to reviews, this L-dopa supplement does improve mood and can reduce depression symptoms
- Reviewers say they noticed a difference within a day after they started taking this supplement
- Powder form of mucuna pruriens makes it easy to mix in coffee or other beverages
- May boost brain health and cognitive function
- According to reviews, it’s an effective supplement
- May help with depression
- According to users, this L-dopa supplement helps promote a focused but powerful sense of calm
- May help improve sleep quality
- Nootropic brain support
- Not a mucuna pruriens supplement but instead includes other amino acids and ingredients for dopamine production like L-tyrosine
- Includes natural caffeine
- Has an ingredient called Dynamine which activates dopamine receptors, increases energy and improves mood
- Another trademarked ingredient is AlphaSize, which is a bioavailable form of choline
- SerinAid ingredient helps with focus and memory, as well as overall mental performance
Hawaii Farm Mucuna Extract
- Alcohol-free liquid extract
- Liquid mucuna pruriens may be more easily absorbed and bioavailable than capsules
- Very concentrated formulation
- Described as effective by many reviewers for promoting a sense of general well-being
Summing Up—The Best L-Dopa Supplements
Low dopamine levels can have a significant impact on your life. Low dopamine is linked to everything from depression to Parkinson’s disease.
An L-dopa supplement can cross the blood-brain barrier, so it may be a good way to improve your health, mood, focus, and concentration.
Always speak to your doctor before taking any L-dopa supplement.