L-dopa is an important compound necessary for the production of specific brain chemicals that are vital to cognitive function and general well-being. L-dopa can be produced in the body but biohackers mainly rely on foods and supplements to increase levels of this important component.
What is L-Dopa?
L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, better known as L-dopa, is found naturally in the plant and animal kingdom and is extracted for supplementation. Increased levels of L-dopa provides certain nootropic benefits that are highly valued by professionals today.
L-dopa is an amino acid that is transformed in the body to create the hormones dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These are required for relaying vital messages between areas of the brain and play key roles in the general psychology we experience.
L-dopa is either produced in the central nervous system or acquired through food sources and supplementation. L-dopa is taken through the bloodstream directly to the brain where it is free to cross the blood-brain barrier. Here, it can be transformed into neurotransmitters to facilitate brain and nervous activity.1
L-dopa also plays a role in activating neurotrophic factors. These important proteins and peptides are vital to the growth, regulation, and nurturing of neurons throughout the body. Keeping these vital components of the nervous system in excellent condition is important to stave off conditions like Parkinson’s and maintaining optimal physical and mental performance.2
Benefits of L-dopa Supplementation
L-dopa supplementation can provide a number of physically and mentally boosting effects in a healthy person. Following are some of the most significant benefits from supplementation:
Enhanced Physical and Mental Performance
As the compound required to synthesize dopamine, having more L-dopa available in the brain increases the capacity of this vital brain chemical. Dopamine not only facilitates brain function but also plays a role in improved physical performance and attention skills. Dopamine supplementation is often prescribed to improve conditions like bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s and ADHD.
In a healthy individual, greater supplies of dopamine provide the brain with more endurance and enhanced powers of concentration and focus. Mood improvement and the capacity to avoid impulsiveness are some other benefits of plentiful dopamine levels.3
Increased Focus and Mood Improvement
According to recent studies, balanced levels of norepinephrine in the body play a key role in maintaining a stable emotional state and increasing focus and attention levels too. Norepinephrine is another chemical communicator that is most active during times of stress but allows the body to maintain alertness and focus.
Excessive norepinephrine has been associated with hyperactivity, especially in children. Prolonged periods of stress and anxiety can lead to lower levels of norepinephrine and results in reduced energy, fatigue, and moodiness. By contributing to the production of norepinephrine, L-dopa plays an important role in a balanced mental state.
Studies have also shown that balanced levels of norepinephrine lead to better sleep habits.4
Prevents Cognitive Decline
L-dopa works to keep the brain’s memory lanes and information centers in optimal conditions. First, the brain requires dopamine to keep these memories intact and access them easily when needed. Unfortunately, as we age the brain’s production of these chemicals deteriorates. Supplementing with L-dopa is one of the best ways to prevent the cognitive decline that can result from insufficient neurotransmitter production.5
By mediating the activity of neurotrophic factors, L-dopa also supports the efforts that keep the nerve cells that transmit brain messages growing, nurtured, and maintained throughout life.6
Increases the Activities of Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) is another important maintenance compound the body releases to maintain proper cellular reproduction and growth. Due to the role HGH plays in repairing and reconstructing the body at a cellular level, it helps to build muscle mass and lose weight. Studies have shown that supplementing L-dopa by including broad beans in the diet are closely related to higher HGH levels.7
What is Mucuna Pruriens?
Most of the L-dopa supplements available to biohackers are derived from a fuzzy fruit containing high levels of L-dopa. Mucuna pruriens, also called Velvet Bean, Cowitch, Cohage, and many others is a native of warm tropical climates. It is also an important member of the nootropic and medical community.8
Mucuna pruriens is exceptionally high in L-dopa, so much so that it has been considered a treatment for Parkinson’s. The velvety beans from which this herb receives its nickname, boast a 4% L-dopa content along with some especially potent antioxidants.9
Risks and Precautions of L-Dopa Supplementation
There have not been many adverse side effects from supplementing with L-dopa by healthy individuals. Most of the negative effects of L-dopa are related to taking over the recommended amount. Here are some important considerations for L-dopa.
Supplementation with L-dopa should be avoided by all who have cardiac conditions or damaged blood vessels. L-dopa can cause conditions of low blood pressure.
Avoid High Doses
The risk of negative side effects increases with larger doses. Take the time to review product labels and begin with smaller doses until the desired reaction is achieved.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is not enough clinical study on how L-dopa supplementation will affect an unborn developing child or breastfeeding mother. Only take supplements as advised by a doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become so.
Final Notes on L-Dopa
It is important to view L-dopa supplementation as a small part in a much larger campaign to better health and cognitive functions. The best results will be collected by those who build formidable mental and physical functions from a balanced diet, sleep, and exercise habits.
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