Natural Sources of Serotonin, Dopamine & Norepinephrine

Information and natural remedies for the treatment of depression.

Tess Thompson

Serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are chemical substances that occur naturally in the body and play an important role in the emotional wellness of an individual.

  • Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that is synthesized in the neurons of the central nervous system and in cells in the intestinal walls. In the central nervous system, it modulates anger, aggression, mood, sleep, sexuality and appetite.
  • Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in cognition, behavior, learning, motor functions, sleep, attention and mood.
  • Norepinephrine is a catecholamine, chemical compounds derived from amino acid tyrosine. Norepinephrine plays a dual role of a hormone and neurotransmitter. It is basically a precursor of epinephrine (also referred to as adrenaline) that is secreted by the adrenal medulla and also released at synapses. In conjunction with epinephrine, norepinephrine forms the basis of physical and emotional responses to stress, commonly known as fight-or-flight responses.

Evidently, disturbance in levels of all three can adversely affect your emotional health. All three are naturally synthesized in the body to meet the requirements in normal conditions, as well as conditions of stress or grief. However, conditions like advancing age, exposure to constant stress, unresolved grief and certain environmental factors can potentially inhibit production of these essential hormones and neurotransmitters.

The brain’s production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine is sensitive to your diet. There are foods that aid in production of these three essential brain chemicals and others that restrict it. Carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin and a high protein diet increases levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.

Dopamine levels are depleted by stress, antidepressants and poor nutrition. Almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, pumpkin and sesame seeds and lima beans are good sources of dopamine. Proteins from meat, nuts and egg whites are broken down by the body into amino acids like L-tyrosine, a precursor of dopamine, which in turn is a precursor of norepinephrine. L-trytophan from meats is also necessary for production of serotonin. Interestingly, banana peels contain a substantial amount of dopamine and norepinephrine.

A balanced diet can help in maintaining healthy levels of these three essential brain chemicals. Ideally, your diet should be a balance between carbohydrates and proteins with a healthy choice of fats. Whole grains and vegetables promote production of serotonin. Although animal proteins are good for dopamine and serotonin production, too much consumption of meats can elevate levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.

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