Reasons for Neurotransmitter Deficiencies?
In Lesson 1 we learned what neurotransmitters are and the role they play in the body. In this Lesson we
focus on some of the reasons we can suffer from a neurotransmitter deficiencies.
What causes Neurotransmitter Deficiencies?
Here are some of the major reasons we can suffer from depressed neurotransmitter levels...
Prolonged Emotional or Physical Stress.
The human body is programmed to handle sudden, acute or short bouts of stress. Prolonged,
chronic stress takes it toll on the “fight or flight” stress hormones and neurotransmitters. Eventually,
these become depleted and coping becomes more difficult.
60% of all adults past age 40 have some degree of neurotransmitter deficiency. Aging neurons
make smaller amounts of neurotransmitters. Also, as we get older, the body does not respond as well
Weight Loss Dieting.
This is the most common cause of self-induced neurotransmitter deficiencies. Limiting food intake
in order to lose weight restricts the amounts of basic building blocks (neurotransmitter precursors)
needed to produce enough neurotransmitters.
Studies from major universities, including Harvard, MIT, and Oxford, have documented that
women on diets significantly deplete their serotonin within three weeks of dieting. This
induced serotonin deficiency eventually leads to increased cravings, moodiness and poor
motivation. These all contribute to rebound weight gain – the most common yet unfortunate consequence
Increasing neurotransmitter production during dieting is strongly encouraged to avoid yo-yo dieting.
This is accomplished by taking dietary neurotransmitter precursor supplements during dieting.
Many neurotransmitters responsible for proper sleep, especially serotonin, are produced during
REM sleep around 2-3 a.m. Serotonin converts to melatonin, the sleep hormone. When serotonin levels
are low, melatonin levels will also be low. Disrupted sleep occurs and less neurotransmitters are
produced causing a vicious cycle.
Long-term use of diet pills, stimulants, pain pills, narcotics and recreational drugs can deplete
neurotransmitter stores. The use of ma huang, ephedra and prescription diet pills (like phen-fen,
Fastin, phentermine) use up large amounts of dopamine and serotonin. This can result in “rebound”
appetite control problems, low energy, unstable mood and sluggish metabolism.
Heavy metal toxicity, chemical pesticides, fertilizers, certain cleaning agents, industrial solvents,
and recreational drugs cause damage to the neuron and decrease neurotransmitter production. Excess
caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can be neurotoxic. The street drug, Ecstasy, has particularly concerning
neurotoxic effects. It can completely drain serotonin and permanently damage the neuron making
Hormones influence neurotransmitter release and activity. If hormones are
deficient or are off balance, neurotransmitters do not function well. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
is a classic example of how low serotonin levels can temporarily shift each month. Mood, appetite and
sleep can be severely disrupted one to two weeks before the menstrual cycle.
Another neurotransmitter imbalance occurs during menopause when dramatic changes in mood, energy,
sleep, weight, and sexual desire occur.
Some people are born with a limited ability to make adequate amounts of neurotransmitters. They
exhibit deficiency symptoms as children or young adults and often have relatives who suffered from
significant mental illnesses. As they get older, affected individuals experience even more profound
symptoms and debilitation.
Wow, I have a number of the issues, listed above, how do I fix Neurotransmitter Deficiencies?
While we believe in the old adage - "The best way to fix any problem is to avoid having it in the first place",
it is clear that some things on the above list are unavoidable. We will age past 40, genetics can't be changed,
stress can be minimized but rarely eliminated and we all go on a diet at some point. So, it is clear most
of us will have to deal with the problem of a neurotransmitter deficiency at some point.
In Lesson 3 we examine natural ways to increase and balance neurotransmitters when they do get out of
Lesson 3 - How to balance neurotransmitters