Neurotransmitters and ADHD 101

 

Neurotransmitters and particularly dopamine are important if you have ADHD.

A neuron is a nerve cell located in the brain.  Information is passed from one neuron to another via a junction (called a synapse) in either chemical or electrical forms. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that transport information between neurons.

The brain has hundreds of different neurotransmitters and they are responsible for everything from sleep, heart rate to fear and anxiety, to mood and temperature.  Some of the ADHD neurotransmitters that are often talked about are dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin.

There is a body of researchers who are interested in brain chemistry and how neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, (which are responsible for attention and activity) operate differently in an ADHDer compared to a non ADHDer.

In the brains of people with ADHD dopamine levels are different to the rest of the population. For example, they might be lower than expected, or there is a problem with the levels of the protein (called DAT) that carries dopamine between locations or the actions of dopamine are less effective in some areas of the brain.

Prescribed medications like Ritalin and Adderall work by blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake so there is more of the neurotransmitter in the synapse.  Adderall also causes more neurotransmitters to be produced.

There are things you can do to help your brain chemistry naturally and increase your levels of dopamine:

1) Exercise
When you exercise your brain produces more dopamine.  Find an exercise you love and do it every day.

2) Take Omega 3
Omega 3 increases your levels of dopamine.  Take a supplement as well as including more Omega 3   rich foods in your diet.

When you meditate you also increase your dopamine levels.  Check out my blog for more details on how to do meditate.

4) Vitamin C
Include lots of Vitamin C in your diet.  Vitamin C is very helpful in ensuring the dopamine synapses  is working well.

Got questions about ADHD?   Then leave a comment!

Comments

  1. Hi Brenda, I’m a health practitioner and specialize in nutrients for mental health. I’m a fan, friend and colleague of Jacqueline’s.

    I always say, stick with what works. That particular product may be discontinued but I was able to find the ingredient list online. Here’s what is working for your husband:

    5-HTP: a serotonin booster, this nutrient is derived from the amino acid L-Tryptophan (from protein rich foods). L-Tryptophan is also available as a supplement.
    L-Theanine: Boosts GABA as well as dopamine and serotonin for a “calm/focused” feeling.
    Magnolia Bark Extract: An herb shown to regulate cortisol, also calming…
    Panax Ginseng: an adaptogenic herb (adaptogens are excellent for helping you adapt to your environment) plus Ginsengs support dopamine and help with focus and energy
    Rhodiola: another adaptogenic herb, calming & energizing depending, cortisol managing and dopamine supporting

    He may want to experiment with taking one at a time. It’s nice to know the effects of each individual nutrient. As with any supplement, with any negative reaction, STOP taking. Nothing here is too stimulating but you don’t want to feel “off” or drugged in anyway. Nutrients should feel subtle, natural and bring you back to balance in a way that you don’t even remember taking anything.

    L-Tyrosine is an amino that’s known to stimulate dopamine along with herbs for brain health & longevity, like: Gingko Biloba, Gotu Kola and Ginsengs.

    Always start with the lowest dose and build up from there. More isn’t more. Some precautions are if you have Bi-Polar or other mood disorders, are on any SSRI’s, MAO Inhibitors, have high or low blood pressure, melanoma, prone to migraines.

    If it’s “not working” or seems too confusing, please seek the guidance of a practitioner. Getting the dosage right can be tricky.

    Hope this helps.

    ~Marcie

  2. Brenda says:

    What are natural supplements for dopamine and seratonin???

  3. Brenda says:

    I am looking for a natural supplement to help my husband with ADHD.He has overfocused ADHD and lacks seratonin and dopamine. Anybody have any suggestions? Years ago I had found him a product called Good Days for Positive Mood. They were awesome! he was totally “normal” on them but like most other good things they were discontinued. I am thinking of getting him a product called “Boost Mood”

    • Hi Brenda! I asked my friend and colleague and health guru Marcie Goldman if she would answer your question because she is a wealth of knowledge about these things. warmly
      Jacqui

  4. Beth says:

    What are your thoughts on Krill Oil instead of fish oil?

  5. Jacqueline Sinfield says:

    Hi Beth, rather than taking a dopamine supplement, I would take Omega 3 and start implementing the 4 other suggestions in this article. Its not clear yet if taking a domapmine supplement is useful in increasing dopamine levels in the brain. However we know these suggestions do work.

  6. Beth says:

    So would supplementing with dopamine and the other neurotransmitters help?

  7. Jacqueline Sinfield says:

    Hi Josh. I know if you are taking Adderall (also a stimulate) you are advised not take Vitamin C or fruit juices at the same time as it effects your bodies ability to absorb your medication. But you are right, still include Vit C in your diet, just wait till your body has absorbed your meds before enjoying your fruit.

  8. Josh Schroeder says:

    I read somewhere that Vitamin C can decrease the effects of Ritalin. That doesn’t mean don’t take Vitamin C, but it does mean take your meds and wait (maybe 30 minutes?) before consuming Vitamin C or foods with it (like oranges or orange juice). Has anyone else heard this?

  9. Jacqueline Sinfield says:

    Dan, people with ADHD have typically have LESS dopamine than other people.
    Medication doesn’t work by blocking production of neurotransmitters, but by slowing down REUPTAKE so that what is produced stays in the synapses longer.

  10. So, is it the lack of dopamine or the excess of dopamine that is the real issue? If Adderall is blocking dopamine and exercise and Omega 3 increase dopamine levels, what is really going on.

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