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science nutrition blog

science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

 By Robert Schinetsky


Neurotransmitters are signaling molecules (“chemical messengers”) that neurons use to communicate with one another. They’re involved in mood, muscle contraction, memory, and much more. While there are a number of neurotransmitters, the main ones frequently discussed include:

  • Acetylcholine
  • Glutamate
  • GABA
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine


Of particular interest to our readers is dopamine.

Dopamine (the “reward” molecule) is involved in mood, motivation, motor control, decision making, memory, and feelings of reward.

Researchers have known for some time that diet plays a critical role in the body’s synthesis and balance of these neurotransmitters. Furthermore, nutritional supplements can complement a healthy diet, ensuring the body has enough “raw materials” to synthesize these vital chemicals.

New Research: Diet, Supplements & Dopamine

A recently published review in Molecules titled “Neurotransmitters Regulation and Food Intake: The Role of Dietary Sources in Neurotransmission” including 72 studies concluded:

...there are some foods that should be carefully avoided because they can increase or decrease the release of NTs (neurotransmitters). Consuming sufficient amounts of basic nutrients that contain precursors for NTs syntheses can be helpful: protein for amino acids, vitamin B, vitamin C, and some oligo-elements may go towards a healthy brain and more balanced NTs levels.”[1]

A key example highlighted in the review, specifically regarding dopamine, is that regularly consuming a high-fat diet can reduce dopamine reuptake, independent of the dopamine transporter (DAT).[2]

Dopamine reuptake occurs when extracellular dopamine is absorbed (“taken up”) by neurons. This leads to an excess of extracellular dopamine as well as an increase in dopaminergic transmission.[3] While this may sound like a good thing, given dopamine’s role in exercise performance, motivation, etc., excessive concentrations of dopamine have been linked to an increased susceptibility to addictive behavior.[4]

Something else to keep in mind is that dopamine found naturally in foods cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, thus it cannot act on the brain.[1] However, the building blocks of dopamine can be obtained from food and effectively used by the body to support dopamine synthesis.

Tyrosine, an amino acid found in various foods, is required for dopamine synthesis. It is converted to L-Dopa (which can also be found in plants, particularly velvet bean and fava bean) via the actions of tyrosine hydroxylase as well as several cofactors, including iron, B-vitamins and tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4).

Foods high in L-Tyrosine include:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese


Other foods known to increase dopamine levels include eggs and spirulina.[5]

In addition to consuming foods rich in important dopamine precursors, supplements have also been found to be a viable means to support dopamine production.[6,7] This is why dopamine precursors, including L-Tyrosine, velvet bean, and B-vitamins, are included in every serving of Dopa Rush, ThermoHeat Cocktail, and our various Pre-Workout supplements.

Velvet bean (mucuna pruriens) is a natural source of L-Dopa -- the direct precursor to dopamine. Recent studies indicate that, in addition to boosting dopamine, Mucuna pruriens extract offers neuroprotective benefits and increases acetylcholine levels[15] -- without risking an increase in TMAO!

Acetylcholine is a vitally-important neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning as well as the mind-muscle connection. Choline, an important building block for acetylcholine, is an essential nutrient for cognitive development/maintenance, and it is naturally present in some foods, including eggs and beef liver. Based on this, it would make sense to supplement with acetylcholine enhancers, such as alpha-GPC, huperzine, etc. (which are commonly found in other pre workout supplements).

However, Advanced Molecular Labs does NOT include choline donors such as choline bitartrate or alpha-GPC.

Why No Choline Supplements?

Research has found that certain choline-containing compounds may pose potential health risks, including alpha-GPC.

For example, a 10-year cohort study, published in JAMA Network Open 2021 including over 12 million individuals, noted that the use of Alpha-GPC was significantly associated with a 10-year incident stroke risk in a dose-responsive manner. To be more precise, individuals using vs not using α-GPC had a 46% higher risk of stroke.[8]

A separate 2021 study found that alpha-GPC promotes atherosclerosis.[9] The reason for this is that alpha-GPC, as well as other nutrients commonly found in pre workout supplements and fat burners (including carnitine and γ-butyrobetaine (GBB)), have been confirmed to promote atherosclerosis via trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).[10,11]

TMAO is a metabolite generated from gut bacteria as they digest various compounds (including choline, carnitine, and GBB), noted to activate various inflammatory molecules, including the proinflammatory cytokines IL1-β and IL-18 as well as vascular endothelial cell MAPK and NFκB signaling. TMAO may also directly contribute to platelet hyperreactivity and enhanced thrombosis. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence suggests that TMAO may contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.[12,13,14]

Note that more evidence is needed to confirm that TMAO is the causative” factor for the increase in adverse cardiovascular events. However, it does disrupt gut homeostasis (as do other nutrients) and is known to reduce the quantity of various good gut bacteria that support gut barrier integrity.[9]

For these reasons, AML Supplements, including Advanced Molecular Labs Pre Workout as well as Dopa Rush Cocktail, Dopa Rush Shots, and ThermoHeat Cocktail, do NOT contain Alpha GPC (or other choline donors), opting instead for ingredients that support dopamine synthesis.


Nutrition plays a pivotal role (as always), regardless if your goal is building muscle, losing fat, or optimizing neurotransmitter balance. In addition to consuming enough high-quality foods, choosing the right supplements can further aid neurotransmitter production, supporting mood, motivation, productivity, performance, and well-being.



© Published by from Advanced Research Media, Inc. 2023
Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.


  1. Gasmi A, Nasreen A, Menzel A, Gasmi Benahmed A, Pivina L, Noor S, Peana M, Chirumbolo S, Bjørklund G. Neurotransmitters Regulation and Food Intake: The Role of Dietary Sources in Neurotransmission. Molecules. 2023; 28(1):210.
  2. Cone, J.J.; Chartoff, E.H.; Potter, D.N.; Ebner, S.R.; Roitman, M.F. Prolonged high fat diet reduces dopamine reuptake without altering DAT gene expression. PLoS ONE 2013, 8, e58251.
  3. Song R, Zhang HY, Li X, Bi GH, Gardner EL, Xi ZX. Increased vulnerability to cocaine in mice lacking dopamine D3 receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 23;109(43):17675-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1205297109. Epub 2012 Oct 8. PMID: 23045656; PMCID: PMC3491487.
  4. 2022, March 22. Drugs and the Brain. Retrieved from on 2023, January 17
  5. Strömberg I, Gemma C, Vila J, Bickford PC. Blueberry- and spirulina-enriched diets enhance striatal dopamine recovery and induce a rapid, transient microglia activation after injury of the rat nigrostriatal dopamine system. Exp Neurol. 2005 Dec;196(2):298-307. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2005.08.013. Epub 2005 Sep 19. PMID: 16176814.
  6. Jongkees BJ, Hommel B, Kühn S, Colzato LS. Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands—A review. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2015;70:50–57. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.08.014.
  7. Hase A, Jung SE, aan het Rot M. Behavioral and cognitive effects of tyrosine intake in healthy human adults. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2015;133:1–6. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2015.03.008
  8. Lee G, Choi S, Chang J, Choi D, Son JS, Kim K, Kim SM, Jeong S, Park SM. Association of L-α Glycerylphosphorylcholine With Subsequent Stroke Risk After 10 Years. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Nov 1;4(11):e2136008. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.36008. PMID: 34817582; PMCID: PMC8613599.
  9. Wang Z, Hazen J, Jia X, Org E, Zhao Y, Osborn LJ, Nimer N, Buffa J, Culley MK, Krajcik D, van den Born BH, Zwinderman K, Levison BS, Nieuwdorp M, Lusis AJ, DiDonato JA, Hazen SL. The Nutritional Supplement L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine Promotes Atherosclerosis. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Dec 15;22(24):13477. doi: 10.3390/ijms222413477. PMID: 34948275; PMCID: PMC8708068.
  10. Koeth R.A., Wang Z., Levison B.S., Buffa J.A., Org E., Sheehy B.T., Britt E.B., Fu X., Wu Y., Li L., et al. Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat. Med. 2013;19:576–585. doi: 10.1038/nm.3145.
  11. Koeth R.A., Levison B.S., Culley M.K., Buffa J.A., Wang Z., Gregory J.C., Org E., Wu Y., Li L., Smith J.D., et al. gamma-Butyrobetaine is a proatherogenic intermediate in gut microbial metabolism of L-carnitine to TMAO. Cell Metab. 2014;20:799–812. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.10.006.
  12. Roncal, C., Martínez-Aguilar, E., Orbe, J. et al. Trimethylamine-N-Oxide (TMAO) Predicts Cardiovascular Mortality in Peripheral Artery Disease. Sci Rep 9, 15580 (2019).
  13. Lee, Y., Nemet, I., Wang, Z., Lai, H. T. M., De Oliveira Otto, M. C., Lemaitre, R. N., Fretts, A. M., Sotoodehnia, N., Budoff, M., Didonato, J. A., McKnight, B., Tang, W. H. W., Psaty, B. M., Siscovick, D. S., Hazen, S. L., & Mozaffarian, D. (2021). Longitudinal plasma measures of trimethylamine N-oxide and risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events in community-based older adults. Journal of the American Heart Association, 10(17).
  14. Fretts AM, Hazen SL, Jensen P, et al. Association of Trimethylamine N-Oxide and Metabolites With Mortality in Older Adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(5):e2213242. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.13242
  15. Kamkaen N, Chittasupho C, Vorarat S, Tadtong S, Phrompittayarat W, Okonogi S, Kwankhao P. Mucuna pruriens Seed Aqueous Extract Improved Neuroprotective and Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitory Effects Compared with Synthetic L-Dopa. Molecules. 2022 May 13;27(10):3131. doi: 10.3390/molecules27103131. PMID: 35630617; PMCID: PMC9145663.