The Dopamine is a neurotransmitter hormone great importance for life, located in the brain and produced by the activation of the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase. It is a chemical compound (3,4-dihydroxy-phenylethanamine) with the molecular formula C 8 H 11 NO 2 , which acts as a messenger for our body and, when released by the hypothalamus, produces a feeling of well-being .
Thus, dopamine is released during exercise, meditation, the sexual act and even when we are eating something appetizing. For this reason, there are several foods rich in vitamins and especially tyrosine (non-essential amino acid), which, if eaten, provide feelings of relaxation, for example, fruits (avocado, banana, apple, watermelon), vegetables (cabbage, spinach, broccoli) , parsley), almonds, red meat, poultry, fish, beans, pumpkin and sesame seeds, nuts, mushrooms, among others.
On the other hand, if we have low levels of dopamine in the blood, we feel less energetic, willing and more depressed. Some diseases are associated with abnormal levels (high or low rates) of dopamine such as the degenerative disease called Parkinson’s disease, as the nerve cells that produce the substance age. In addition, many psychoactive drugs are associated with dopamine release, and therefore, with chemical dependency (addiction).
To learn more: Hormones and Nervous System
The main functions of dopamine in our body are:
- Improves memory, mood, cognition and attention
- Stimulates feelings of well-being and pleasure
- Controls appetite, sleep, mental and motor functions
- Combats anxiety and depression
- Related to the ability to overcome challenges (motivation)
Dopamine was synthesized in the laboratory at the beginning of the 20th century, by the English scientist George Barger (1878-1939). Later, in 1958, Swedish chemists Arvid Carlsson and Nils-Ake Hillarp, discovered functions attributed to this substance, mainly as a neurotransmitter.
Dopamine and Adrenaline
There are confusions about the chemical compounds dopamine and adrenaline, although the former is a natural precursor to adrenaline and norepinephrine .
To learn more: Adrenaline
Used as a medicine, dopamine that acts on the nervous system is indicated for patients with depression, fatigue, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.