Does Vitamin D Increase Dopamine? A Look at the Science

Man standing on a hill with his arms out wide during a sunset

Does vitamin D boost dopamine? The short answer is perhaps. Current animal and human evidence shows vitamin D plays an important role in the production of dopamine but also in the protection of dopamine receptors. However, there’s a lack of human studies showing whether vitamin D supplements have the same effect as vitamin D from nature, and if vitamin D boosts dopamine in people who aren’t vitamin D deficient.

Curious to learn more? Read on!

About Vitamin D and Dopamine

Another name for vitamin D is often the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin makes it from sunlight. A fat-soluble vitamin, you can also get vitamin D from foods and supplements to ensure optimal levels in your blood.

Vitamin D is incredibly important for our health. Perhaps the most well-known property of vitamin D is its ability to enhance calcium and phosphorus absorption, leading to stronger bones. However, did you know that vitamin D also has a massive influence on your immune system, teeth health, and the production of mood-regulating hormones like dopamine?

You’ve probably heard that dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel motivated and driven to pursue our goals. It helps boost your mood and gives you that sense of ‘reward’ when you accomplish something, or when you indulge in a pleasurable activity. Dopamine is also vital for maintaining healthy sleep as well as the proper motor and physical function of your body. [1]

Therefore, having healthy dopamine levels is massively important for not just our well-being, but also all other aspects of our life. Low dopamine, on the other hand, can make you apathetic and unmotivated.

This is why more and more people look into natural supplements to boost their dopamine levels. Naturally, this brings up the question: can vitamin D boost your dopamine levels?

Let’s have a closer look at the science to find out!

Vitamin D and Dopamine – How One Affects the Other

As a neurotransmitter involved in the motivation-reward cycle, dopamine has a huge potential to help us live our best life, but also to become addicted to seeking pleasure. Many scientists today agree that dopamine imbalances could be behind most addiction issues.

There’s evidence showing that vitamin D may play a role in neurodevelopment and may have a neuroprotective role on dopamine receptors in our brain. [2]

In a study, vitamin D-treated animals showed significantly reduced substance-induced reductions in dopamine and its metabolites compared to the control group. This study indicated that vitamin D provides protection for the dopaminergic system in the brain against the depleting effects of addictive substances.

Another way vitamin D boosts dopamine is through the increase of blood levels of tyrosine hydroxylase, a building block for the neurotransmitter.

So, Does Vitamin D Boost Dopamine?

Human studies have established that vitamin D has an important role in regulating all neurotransmitters – dopamine included.

But before you go on Amazon to shop for your bottle of vitamin D pills, be aware that we don’t have many human studies on dopamine and vitamin D supplements specifically.

While animal evidence looks promising, there are still some important questions that need to be answered. Such as;

  • Do vitamin D supplements have the same or similar effect on dopamine as getting vitamin D from sunlight and other natural sources?
  • Does vitamin D boost dopamine if we’re not vitamin D deficient?

Conclusion

Dopamine is a vital brain chemical that influences your mood, sleep, memory, motivation, and a lot more. Your body does a pretty good job at regulating its dopamine levels on its own, but certain conditions and lifestyle choices can put your levels out of balance.

Along with eating a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well, certain nutrients might have a positive effect on your dopamine production. This includes vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin that regulates the production of dopamine building blocks as well as assisting in the protection of dopamine neurons. This, in turn, could make you feel more motivated and energetic in your everyday life.

However, while animal studies show a lot of promise, we don’t yet have too many human studies that prove that vitamin D can boost dopamine. In any case, it’s always best to check with your doctor to see if supplements like vitamin D are right for your specific situation.

Scientific References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1347497/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2251729413000050

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