Have you felt irritated lately? Or maybe you have complained about lack of sleep?
Feeling tired from time to time is normal. But if you feel like something is not right, you may be experiencing a hormonal imbalance.
Hormones are important to your overall health, and even slight changes to their levels can affect your well-being. Keep reading to find out what to do to balance your hormones.
The symptoms of your hormonal imbalance will vary depending on which glands or hormones are involved. Hormones work together, which means that if one is underperforming, another may be overperforming to compensate.
The most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance can present as fatigue, occasional trouble sleeping, mood swings, menstrual cycle issues, or unexplained changes in weight.
Your body has several hormones, including:
Your body requires specific nutrients for optimal function. Thus, hormonal imbalances can crop up because of an imbalanced diet. Sometimes imbalances in our eating patterns are obvious, like not eating many vegetables and eating a lot of sugary foods and drinks. But sometimes the imbalances are less obvious, like, for example, not eating enough foods that contain magnesium. Other potential causes of hormonal imbalance can be stress, lack of physical activity, poor sleep habits, gut microbiome imbalances, and natural changes with aging.
Your body produces reproductive hormones at different levels depending on the stage of your life (e.g. during menstruation, puberty, pregnancy, or menopause). So, it is natural for hormone levels to shift throughout your life.
Consider talking to your doctor and asking for tests to check all of your hormone levels. You can check your hormone levels through blood, saliva, or urine tests.
Supplements can help make up deficits that occur in your body to naturally help restore proper hormonal balance.
One of the best ways to prevent hormone imbalance is through eating a diet full of nutrient-dense foods, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. However, if you have developed hormone imbalances over time, supplementing some nutrients can be a helpful addition to your nutrition and lifestyle routine.
Vitamin D3 can promote healthy blood sugar regulation (already within normal range), sleep, and cardiovascular health. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body although it is considered a vitamin. Research has discovered that vitamin D receptors are widely present throughout the reproductive system, suggesting that vitamin D is required for fertility and reproductive health as a whole. In addition, vitamin D helps support bone health and keeps your immune system strong.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is between 15-20 mcg (600-800 IU) daily. You can also get vitamin D from the sun and foods such as fatty fish and egg yolks. However, most people are still deficient in vitamin D. This study identified over 40% of the US population with deficiencies.
Taking a vitamin D supplement can be helpful in maintaining adequate levels, especially during the winter months or if you spend a lot of time indoors.
The eight B vitamins are thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine pyridoxal-5-phosphate (B6) , biotin (B7), folate (B9), and methylcobalamin (B12). Choline is often grouped with the B vitamins due to similarities in function. One of the major roles of B vitamins is to help convert food into energy. Vitamins B6 and B12 are also essential in the formation of red blood cells, which are needed for oxygen transport in the body and thus energy levels.
Vitamins B12, B6, and B9 or folate can help manage levels of homocysteine, a normal by-product in the body but potentially dangerous for the endothelium (cells that line blood vessels) at high levels.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine (or the active form as pyridoxal-5-phosphate), is essential for healthy immune function, nervous system function, and normal brain development. Vitamin B6 has also been studied for its potential hormone-balancing effects. For instance, in those with PMS, studies show that supplementation doses of up to 100 mg/day of vitamin B6 are likely to benefit those with PMS. The vitamin is also required for the production of GABA, the neurotransmitter that can help produce a sense of calm, especially when experiencing PMS. Vitamin B6 is known to play a role in the production of an antioxidant in our body called glutathione, which is often called the “master antioxidant” for its major role in combating oxidative stress.
Niacin, or vitamin B3, is converted in the body to the coenzyme NAD, which is required in the functioning of more than 400 enzymes. Many of these reactions are in the steps to break food down into energy as ATP. Niacin is also required for hormone production and to maintain cellular antioxidant capacity.
Increased stress levels can deplete certain B vitamins, especially vitamin B6. Alcohol intake can also inhibit absorption of several of the B vitamins. Conversely, diets low in B vitamins can lead to increased levels of perceived stress and poor mood.
When choosing vitamin B12 and folate supplements, look for the active methylated forms, like methylcobalamin for B12 and methylfolate for folate instead of folic acid. If you are looking to get more than one type of B vitamin, then a vitamin B complex supplement with B vitamins in the active forms may be the best and easiest way to get all the B vitamins in one.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties that help manage oxidative stress, which is basically stress on a cellular level. A large body of research gives evidence to the various essential roles of vitamin E in female reproductive health. These include reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, maintaining balance of oxidative stress and antioxidant levels.
Research also shows potential hormone-balancing properties of vitamin E. A 2022 meta-analysis concluded that those who were supplemented with vitamin E experienced a positive impact on several hormones, including insulin, FSH, LH, testosterone, and progesterone.
Vitamin E may also manage menopause symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, or vaginal dryness. In this study, daily doses of vitamin E were taken for 4 weeks before menopausal complaints improved. There was a wide range of dosages used between 50-400 IU, so additional studies should be done to determine the most effective dose.
Some additional research has emerged that may point to tocotrienols rather than tocopherols as the safer and more effective form of vitamin E to use in supplementation. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15mg or 22 IU daily for those 14 and older, but many supplements provide doses from 100 - 1000 mg daily. Supplementation should not exceed 1000 mg daily. Some of the best food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, and salmon.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a powerful plant that has been celebrated for its therapeutic properties especially for its use as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is defined as an herb meant to enhance the body’s stress resilience. It can help keep hormones balanced and manage physical and mental stress.
One of the main hormones associated with stress is cortisol. Everyone has cortisol in their bodies. Cortisol levels vary depending on the time of day and amount of stress being experienced. In this study, healthy participants supplemented either with ashwagandha or placebo for 8 weeks. Those in the ashwagandha group saw positive improvements in serum cortisol levels compared to baseline and reported improvements in sleep and stress levels.
When looking at supplement options, ashwagandha can be found as a powder or in capsules. The key part of the herb that has the most therapeutic content is the root. The goal is to find a supplement that contains only the root only for the most benefit. Care/of’s Ashwagandha supplement is made from certified organic non-GMO ashwagandha roots, sustainably grown in India.
Fish oil can be an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential, meaning they have to be consumed in order to get adequate levels since they cannot be made in the body. These fatty acids are necessary for the healthy function of cell membranes and their receptors. Fish oil has strong research that it supports brain and heart health.
Omega-3s can also help with hormone production and balance. Supplementation with omega-3s has been shown to support healthy testosterone levels in both men and women. Other studies show that higher levels of omega-3 in the body are associated with better insulin sensitivity in healthy people with blood sugar levels already within normal range. Another study found that daily supplementation with fish oil for 3 weeks resulted in better management of cortisol levels when exposed to mental stress. Omega-3s can also help reduce menstrual cramps and other PMS related symptoms through managing prostaglandin levels.
Although there is no single agreed-upon recommended daily intake of omega-3s, the NIH lists the adequate intake between 1100mg-1600mg, depending on factors like age, gender, and pregnancy. Some foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as egg yolks, walnuts, and chia, flax and hemp seeds.
If your diet is lacking in these foods, omega-3 supplementation may be a great option to consider. Care/of's Fish Oil supplement is made from wild caught salmon and is cold-pressed to preserve the natural vitamins found in fish oil and protect the fragile nature of omega-3 fats. For those that prefer vegan friendly options, Care/of also offers a Veggie Omega sourced from algae.
You may benefit from magnesium supplements even if you follow a healthy diet. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals, but around half of the US population is deficient. It plays a major role in your bone, muscle, nerve, and heart health. Research shows several potential ways magnesium can help manage hormones.
Another study of athletes found that the group that supplemented with 500mg of magnesium daily over 4 weeks had improved cortisol and ACTH levels in comparison to the control group. The results suggest that magnesium may also play a role in managing stress levels within the body. In addition, one study saw a correlation between low levels of magnesium and issues with thyroid hormones. This suggests that magnesium may play a role in maintaining healthy thyroid hormones, but additional studies need to be done to confirm this finding.
The recommended daily intake for magnesium is between 310mg-420mg, but some sources say that this is just the minimum required to prevent deficiency and is not enough for optimal functioning. Foods rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, cashews, and spinach. Magnesium supplementation can be a great option if you do not consume these foods and since magnesium insufficiency is all too common. Care/of’s Magnesium supplement is a highly soluble version of magnesium that is sourced from fresh Irish seawater.
The gut microbiome consists of so many different bacteria, both friend and foe. Different strains may have different potential health benefits. Probiotic bacteria are essential for gut health and digestion. They help with nutrient absorption and are vital in the function of the gut-brain axis, the communication network between the gut and the brain. It is involved in several processes including food intake, feeling satiated, and so much more.
Probiotics have shown potential benefits to female hormone health. According to this study, supplementing with probiotics over a 12 week period resulted in positive hormone changes in participants. This study notes positive changes in androgens and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) with probiotic supplementation. Another study reported positive FSH changes in those who were supplemented with a probiotic over a 5 week period compared to the control group.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods including yogurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso. Probiotic supplementation can also be an easy way to get a daily dose of probiotics and at higher doses, if desired.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and there are two forms of it: Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and K1 is the main dietary form of vitamin K and is present mainly in green leafy vegetables. K2 is mainly produced by bacteria in the gut and is also present in small amounts in animal-based foods and fermented foods.
Vitamin K is essential for bone health and also plays a pivotal role in the blood clotting cascade. Based on results from studies, it may even modulate hormones. In this study, vitamin K2 was found to module estrogen levels, particularly supporting a decreased ratio of estradiol (the most potent form of estrogen) to estrone. Another study reported that supplementation of a combination of vitamins D and K resulted in reductions in the androgen hormones DHEA and testosterone in women with excess levels to begin with.
The recommended adequate intake for vitamin K is between 90-120 mcg. There is no separate recommendation for K2 at the moment.
Zinc is a mineral that plays an essential role as a cofactor for several enzymes, most popularly known for its role in immune function and intestinal health. But zinc also plays a role in fertility and certain hormones.
Zinc is required in oocyte (female egg) development including regulating progesterone function in the process. Research shows that zinc also regulates the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) to improve stress response. In fact, zinc deficiency can cause excess activity in the HPA axis causing an increase in stress hormones and can negatively impact mental health.
The RDA for zinc is 8-12 mg for adults. Good food sources of zinc include oysters, which have the highest amount of zinc, as well as other shellfish, beef, liver, nuts and seeds, and dairy.
If looking to supplement with zinc to fill in the gaps of the mineral in your diet, Care/of’s Zinc supplement contains a blend of zinc and copper compounds to support proper mineral balance.
Rhodiola rosea is a plant supplement widely utilized in traditional medicine for centuries. Like ashwagandha, rhodiola is an adaptogen, a type of compound that can help the body adapt to stress. In addition to enhancing alertness and managing occasional stress, rhodiola has demonstrated the ability to enhance mood, as supported by clinical research. One study found that rhodiola can reduce the rise in cortisol levels in response to stress. Another study found that rhodiola can also help promote mental energy and focus.
Vitamin C is well known for supporting the immune system, mainly through its role as an antioxidant to manage oxidative stress. It also supports the nervous system by helping to regulate energy metabolism in neurons.
Although the body doesn't store vitamin C in large quantities compared to some other nutrients, there is an exception to this rule when it comes to the adrenal glands. These glands store a substantial amount of vitamin C. This supply of vitamin C in the adrenal glands assists in maintaining the glands' normal functions, which include responding to stress and producing cortisol.
Antioxidants play an important role in fertility. Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to help increase progesterone levels in women with reduced levels during their luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Adequate progesterone is needed for a healthy menstrual cycle and pregnancy. In fact, lower concentrations of antioxidants in the body are associated with the potential for increased risk of reproductive issues. Reproductive hormone production is sensitive to oxidative stress, so antioxidants like vitamin C and others can help restore balance.
Food sources of vitamin C include citrus, peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwis, and strawberries. Getting whole food forms and extracts of vitamin C may be more effective than the synthetic ascorbic acid often used in many commercial supplements. Care/of’s Vitamin C supplement contains vitamin C from acerola cherries plus helpful bioflavonoids often present in vitamin C rich foods to support proper use in the body.
Shatavari is actually a species of asparagus that packs a powerful punch. It may be able to support healthy menstruation and help with common symptoms of PMS. Due to shatavari’s antioxidant and adaptogenic properties, it may improve reproductive health through mediating the stress response.
Care/of’s Shatavari supplement is sustainably grown in India, and, like all of Care/of’s supplements, is third-party tested and non-GMO with no unnecessary fillers.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to promoting hormone balance. Plan to eat a nutrient-dense diet filled with fruits, veggies, healthy fats, fiber, and protein can provide the necessary nutrients for hormonal regulation. is important. And don’t forget adequate hydration. Water helps with proper nutrient flow in the body.
Regular exercise can also play a significant role in hormone balance. The type of exercise that might be best for you, like calming exercises like yoga or strength and weight training, depend on your particular health needs.
Learn ways to manage stress that work for you. Some ways you can promote relaxation include meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, or taking up a hobby. Develop healthy sleep habits by setting up your schedule to get enough hours of sleep and creating a healthy wind down routine.
Consuming a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to keep your hormones in proper balance. However, if you suspect that you suffer from hormonal imbalance, you may want to consider talking to a healthcare professional who can run some tests and provide further guidance.
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