Essential Vitamins and Supplements to Balance Hormones
Hormones and insulin resistance can cause issues for many women, especially upon entering perimenopause. Fluctuations of key hormones and insulin levels occur, for a variety of reasons, including:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Menstrual cycles
- Birth control
- Insulin resistance
- Chronic stress and mental health disorders
- Diet or dietary changes
- Disorders that affect the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, etc.
These fluctuations impact nearly every aspect of a woman’s life. When our hormones are unbalanced, we may experience a variety of unwanted symptoms including:
- Major mood swings and irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Poor digestion or irregular bowel movements
- Decrease in sex drive
- Painful periods
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
As a result, physical and mental health may suffer, which negatively impacts one’s personal relationships and quality of life.
Fortunately, there are natural methods and herbal remedies to help regulate hormones without the need for pharmaceutical therapy. These options are particularly attractive to those who wish to adopt a more holistic treatment regimen and avoid foreign chemicals and hormones.
A Healthy Diet and Active Lifestyle is Key to Hormone Balance
Focusing on exercise, sleep, diet, and stress management is essential to balancing hormones. Exercise helps to reduce inflammation and cortisol levels, while getting adequate sleep helps regulate hormones like melatonin and cortisol. When it comes to using supplements to balance hormones, we should always turn to food first. Supplements are great, but there is no substitute for good, fresh, whole foods. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, vitamins B, C, & D, and healthy fats can help provide the necessary nutrients for hormone production. Additionally, reducing stress levels through activities, like yoga or meditation, can help support the nervous system, which regulates hormones. Exposure to sunlight during the day can also help regulate your circadian rhythm, essential for hormone balance.
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals needed to help support the production of steroid hormones such as testosterone, DHEA, progesterone, and estrogen. It also helps to convert tryptophan into serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate mood and sleep. While you can take a magnesium supplement, there is no better way to get the hormone-balancing magnesium you need, than from the foods that you eat. To ensure you are getting enough magnesium, be sure to eat plenty of the following:
- Dark leafy greens
- Seeds like flax, pumpkin, and chia
- Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans
- Dark Chocolate
B Vitamins (B12, B6, B3)
Taking a high-quality B-complex vitamin supplement is a good idea for those in the throes of hormonal imbalance and elevated stress level. Vitamins B12, B6, and B3 are essential in helping to regulate hormones. Vitamin B12 helps to create the adrenal hormones adrenaline and cortisol, while vitamin B6 is essential in regulating estrogen levels. Vitamin B3 helps to detoxify excess amounts of steroid hormones, reducing the risk of hormone imbalances. This is one group of vitamins in which taking a supplement may be beneficial, in addition to eating a diet high in B-vitamins.
There are nine types of B vitamins, and there are certain foods that contain more of them that are most beneficial for hormone and insulin balance.
Salmon is an excellent source of many B vitamins. It contains B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce contain B9, also known as folate. They’re best eaten raw or lightly steamed to keep B9 intact.
Eggs are one of the best sources of B7, also known as biotin. They also contain B2, B5, B9, and B12.
For vegans, a vitamin B supplement is highly recommended. Nutritional yeast, which is great sprinkled on popcorn, contains incredibly high amounts of B1, B2, B3, and B6, a fair amount of B9 and B12, and a little B5.
Probiotics are essential in promoting healthy gut bacteria, which aids in balancing stress and hormone levels. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation, positively affecting hormone levels. A high-quality probiotic supplement is a good idea, especially if you don’t like probiotic-rich foods. Examples include foods such as:
- Certain cheeses, like mozzarella
The liver is the primary organ that breaks down and rids the body of excess estrogen, a common cause of hormonal imbalance. Therefore, supplements that support the immune function of the thyroid gland and liver may also work to balance hormones. These supplements include turmeric, vitamin C, and alpha-lipoic acid. It is important to eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruit, tomatoes, and strawberries. Cook with turmeric or take a turmeric supplement. Alpha-lipoic acid can also be taken in a supplement, but it is also found in foods such as:
- Organ meats
- Red meat
- Brussels sprouts
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are particularly important for women’s health. These essential fats can help regulate hormone levels, reduce inflammation associated with menstrual pain, and support healthy fetal development during pregnancy. Foods that are highest in Omega-3s include:
- Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and mackerel
- Cod liver oil
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Egg yolks
If you don’t eat a wide array of these fatty fish and omega-3-rich foods, taking a high-quality fish oil supplement should provide the same hormone-balancing benefits.
Forty-one percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. It is especially common in women of reproductive age. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and low-birth-weight infants. Studies show that vitamin D deficiency affects both insulin secretion and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a hallmark of a disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is one of the most common endocrine disorders among reproductive-aged women. Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, egg yolks, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and vitamin fortified cereals and milk. Vitamin D supplements are available and are best absorbed when taken with a fatty meal.
Zinc has been proven to aid women with PCOS in balancing their hormones. Zinc supplementation can be beneficial, as studies have revealed that it can lower triglycerides, improve insulin resistance, and prevent excess hair growth while stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Inositol is a sugar made in the body and found in foods. It can be found in nine forms, but the two most common forms in supplements are Myo-inositol and D-chiro Inositol. Inositol may help to balance certain chemicals related to metabolic syndrome, PCOS, and diabetes. This supplement may also help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and preterm birth. It also helps to lower cholesterol and reduce insulin resistance. It may also promote ovulation and increase pregnancy rates. Some research even suggests it may help regulate mood and fight depression.
DIM is a compound commonly found in cruciferous vegetables. DIM appears to help adjust the hormone estrogen. A few clinical trials suggest that it supports healthy estrogen levels and may lower the risk of certain cancers and estrogen-linked auto-immune diseases, like Lupus. Research is ongoing, but DIM has the potential to slow some cancer cells and lower toxins produced by the body’s natural metabolism.
Selenium is an essential mineral critical in keeping hormones regulated and maintaining equilibrium. It helps generate thyroid hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, boost fertility, and strengthen immune system.
Ashwagandha has long been hailed as the “king of herbs” for its ability to reduce chronic stress and anxiety. Furthermore, when taken daily, in supplement form, ashwagandha can play an integral role in male reproductive health and fertility by balancing hormones and boosting testosterone levels.
Fenugreek has been documented to have libido-boosting characteristics and anti-diabetic properties. Supplementation of this plant could improve your sex life and blood sugar levels. In addition, studies have shown that Fenugreek can help reduce symptoms of PCOS, vaginal dryness, irritability, and mood swings.
Black Cohosh is an herbal remedy used for centuries to help balance key hormones and relieve menopause symptoms, PMS, menstrual cramps, and irregular periods.
Federal Regulation of Dietary/Herbal Supplements
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are sold to the public. Dietary supplement companies are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe and accurately labeled. While dietary/herbal supplements can play a role in improving or maintaining your overall health, some dietary supplements can also have health risks, interact with medications, or interfere with lab tests. Please read product labels and talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements.
For postmenopausal women, maintaining a well-balanced hormone level becomes increasingly vital for overall health and well-being. Fluctuating estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels can cause a range of symptoms, including irregular periods, vaginal dryness, and even high blood pressure. The delicate interplay of hormones impacts all body systems, from nervous system health to bone density. Hormone-balancing supplements and essential nutrients like healthy fats can be a proactive step in addressing these hormonal challenges. Are you struggling with the ups and downs of hormone imbalance or fluctuations in your menstrual cycle? Prioritize your optimal health and well-being and explore natural ways to reduce stress, balance hormones, and alleviate symptoms associated with hormonal changes. Whether you’re considering hormone replacement therapy or seeking dietary solutions, our dedicated team at Premier Obstetrics and Gynecology is here to guide you. We are here to support you on your journey to full hormonal balance and harmony.