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Even the smallest building block in the human body can make the biggest difference in how you feel. Either elevated or suppressed levels of these tiny building blocks can negatively affect your emotional, mental and physical state. L-dopa is one such important amino acid in the body that directly affects the level of dopamine in the body. Let's take a closer look at the importance of L-dopa in the human body.

What Is L-Dopa?

L-dopa is an amino acid that is one of the main precursors to dopamine1. It passes through the blood-brain barrier, and it's consumed by dopaminergic neurons. These neurons then convert the L-dopa to dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that is responsible for a variety of psychological responses in the brain.

History of L-Dopa

L-dopa was actually first discovered in 1913, but was initially considered of no use2. Over 40 years later, researchers decided to investigate L-dopa further and discovered its benefits for Parkinson's patients as well as a myriad of other health benefits.

The Benefits of L-Dopa

Due to the ability of L-Dopa to increase dopamine levels in the body, it offers a variety of health benefits to users. One of the most well-known benefits of L-dopa is in assisting individuals who suffer from Parkinson's Disease. Those with Parkinson's have lower levels of dopamine, which means they have a harder time controlling and coordinating their body's movements. L-dopa can help lessen the symptoms3 of Parkinson's

Dopamine is known to elevate your mood, reduce depression and lessen the symptoms of anxiety.4 As dopamine's precursor, L-dopa allows for the production of more dopamine which in general makes you feel better emotionally.

Many Western men suffer from a low sex drive. Studies show that L-dopa can increase both sexual function and libido in men5

It is important to note, that just as L-dopa offers benefits to users, it can also have adverse effects. Excessive amounts of dopamine can lead to dangerous thrill-seeking behavior in individuals.

How to Use L-Dopa

There are two main ways that L-dopa is used. The first is medications. Certain medications such as Levodopa6, which is prescribed to individuals with Parkinson's, contains L-dopa and increases the levels of dopamine.

The second way to consume L-dopa is through the use of dietary supplements. The most common dietary supplements that contain L-dopa are derived from the plant Mucuna pruriens.

Symptoms of L-Dopa Deficiency

Since L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine, it is easier to detect dopamine deficiencies. A deficiency in dopamine is normally caused by an underlying condition or disease.  Symptoms of a dopamine deficiency include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Stiffness in the muscles
  • Lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Severe mood swings
  • Self-harming thoughts or actions
  • Decreased sex drive

Decreased levels of dopamine7 is a symptom of Parkinson's Disease. Depression, schizophrenia and hallucinations are also linked to decreased levels of dopamine. Consuming foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats can suppress dopamine levels in the body.

Who Is at Risk of and L-Dopa Deficiency?

Individuals at the greatest risk of an L-dopa deficiency are those who suffer from Parkinson's disease and mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia. It is important to note that low L-dopa and dopamine levels do not cause these conditions, but are rather symptoms of these conditions.

Treatments vary depending on the underlying cause of the deficiency8. Common forms of treatment include medications and supplements that contain L-dopa, and natural remedies such as a change in diet and exercise.

If you suspect you might have a condition causing low levels of dopamine, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for a thorough physical evaluation and proper diagnosis.

Foods That Contain L-Dopa

Mucuna pruriens is the most popular natural source of L-dopa. Mucuna pruriens is a climbing legume that is found in southern China and eastern India.9 Although the entire plant is beneficial, it is the bean that is the highest source of L-dopa and is widely used in supplements. It is nicknamed the "velvet bean" because the outer pod is covered in little hairs which are itchy and can cause severe irritation to the skin.

Mucuna pruriens is the richest source of L-dopa. However, there are other natural sources of L-dopa such as Ginkgo biloba, broad bean pods and Plumbago zeylanica.10 Significant sources of L-dopa are not commonly found in a person's diet. Consumption of L-dopa dietary supplements is the best way to guarantee adequate intake of L-dopa.

L-Dopa Supplementation With Dopa Mucuna

There are always certain instances where diet is not going to give you everything you need. There's no need to worry if your diet does not provide the necessary amount of L-dopa. Oral supplements are available for those who want to make sure they are consuming enough in their daily diet.

Dopa Mucuna is a powerful, all-natural supplement that contains a clinically-proven dosage of L-dopa and mucuna. Learn more about Dopa Mucuna and UMZU's line of natural supplements by visiting our online showroom.

With crazy, busy schedules it is easy to be tempted by fast food, processed food, and an abundance of poor eating choices. With obesity and bad eating habits on the rise, it's more important now than ever to pay attention to what you put in your body. Your health is one of the most important investments you can make. After all, you will need it for years to come! Take care to make sure you are receiving adequate amounts of both macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as engaging in healthy exercise. Begin your journey to a healthier you today!

Citations and Sources

Levodopa - DrugBank. DrugBank. https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB01235. Accessed April 22, 2019.
Top Pharmaceuticals: L-Dopa. Chemical & Engineering News. https://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/83/8325/8325l-dopa.html. Accessed April 22, 2019.
Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment. NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine. https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/winter14/articles/winter14pg8-10.html. Accessed April 22, 2019.
Rana D, Galani V. Dopamine mediated antidepressant effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds in various experimental models of depression. Ayu. 2014;35(1):90-97. [PubMed]
Brown E, Brown G, Kofman O, Quarrington B. Sexual function and affect in parkinsonian men treated with L-dopa. Am J Psychiatry. 1978;135(12):1552-1555. [PubMed]
R. Gandhi K, Saadabadi A. Levodopa (L-Dopa) - StatPearls - . NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482140/. Accessed April 22, 2019.
5 Causes of Dopamine Deficiency - Online Psychology Degree Guide. Online Psychology Degree Guide. https://www.onlinepsychologydegree.info/lists/5-causes-of-dopamine-deficiency/. Accessed April 22, 2019.
Dopamine deficiency: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320637.php. Accessed April 22, 2019.
Lampariello L, Cortelazzo A, Guerranti R, Sticozzi C, Valacchi G. The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens. J Tradit Complement Med. 2012;2(4):331-339. [PMC]
Ramya K, Thaakur S. Herbs containing L- Dopa: An update. Anc Sci Life. 2007;27(1):50-55. [PMC]
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