HORMONE BALANCING SUPPLEMENTS | PART ONE
We're ALL about women's health and whilst it's a rather complicated, multi-faceted subject, it's bloody exciting.
Your hormones are chemical messengers in your blood, targeting specific cells and tissues that further influence our menstrual cycles, hunger signals, stress response, thyroid function and mental wellbeing - to put it simply, your hormones make you who you are.
So if anybody ever DARES to call you hormonal, just remember. If you weren't, you'd be dead.
But regardless, we still want those hormones to be behaving in the right way, present in the right amounts and help you smash your goals rather than holding you back from them.
Optimal hormone health and thus, peak wellness is the outcome of balancing blood sugar through a nutrient-dense diet, supporting your pathways of elimination and supporting your nervous system. HOWEVER (the real reason you're here) there are several different supplements to help you fill in the gaps. Here's part one of our guide to hormone balancing supplements.
A DECENT MULTI-VITAMIN
A high quality, food grown multi-vitamin can act as a nice "insurance" supplement for particular circumstances. Ensure that you're not consuming other singular vitamins or minerals to avoid harmful overlaps.
Recommend? Yes and no. For those coming off the pill, prenatal, fertility, vegan diets and if you're struggling to include a wide range of animal protein and plants in your diet for whatever reason (travel, appetite, stress etc), a multi-vitamin could be great for you. If you don't fall into those categories and are pretty confident that your diet and self-care protocol is up to scratch, then skip it.
Needed for healthy progesterone levels, healthy testosterone conversion pathways (thus why it's helpful for acne), insulin sensitivity, healthy thyroid hormone and healthy stress response, zinc is always at the centre of speculation when it comes to hormone health.
It's important to know that copper, Iron and calcium reduce absorption. Too high of a dose can lower iron and copper. Zinc Citrate and picolinate are best absorbed, so opt for those types when choosing your supplement.
Recommend? Zinc can certainly be beneficial in PCOS (polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), in cases of high androgens or overactive 5-alpha reductase pathways or poor thyroid function. It is best taken short term alongside copper.
D3 = animal, D2 = vegetarian. The former is preferred.
Essential in supporting fertility, healthy cycles, thyroid function and, in all honesty, a CRUCIAL endocrine supporting vitamin that in fact, should really be classed as a hormone. Vitamin D Also aids in optimal energy levels and immune function.
Recommend? Absolutely. It's not always completely necessary to take throughout the summer months or if you are constantly exposed to the midday sun, but for the average brit, a high-quality vitamin D spray is a good staple. It is most definitely recommended for those trying to conceive, post-pill or you have a more chronic hormonal condition, but at-home tests are available or can be done through your GP.
Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol (it is believed that the best results come from the combination of the two, even though it can be hard to come by in the UK), works to support regular cycles, egg quality and blood sugar levels.
Recommend? For PCOS or insulin resistance/ metabolic syndrome - absolutely. So many women see wonderful results with this product. If you don't fall into the above, then skip ahead. Approach with caution if you have a sensitive gut, start with a low dose and work your way up to the recommended daily amount.
The chill AF mineral. Stress depletes it and it is generally believed that women with hormonal imbalances are low on it too. It is safe for most to supplement with, but a hair mineral analysis test can pick it up too and we always recommend testing rather than just guessing (this goes for everything!)
Magnesium supports the nervous system and adrenal glands, it aids in healthy menstrual cycles, sleep, blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity, ATP/ energy production AND keeping things regular. Magnesium citrate aids with energy levels whilst Magnesium bisglycinate helps with relaxation and sleep.
Recommend? Hell yeah.
Women's health staple, if you're not doing a multi-vit, a quality B complex can be a great staple, especially if you are post-pill or suffering from symptoms of imbalance.
B vitamins are needed for energy production (so take them in the AM!), progesterone synthesis for a healthy cycle/ pregnancy AND they are crucial for healthy liver detoxification - usually what we need to address if PMS symptoms are dominating. B6 also helps convert neurotransmitters glutamate (excitatory) to GABA (calming).
Recommend? Typically, individual B vitamins aren't recommended on their own unless case-specific, only in a complex. Most women do well with a high-quality B complex, but as with anything, it's down to the individual.
A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient, needed for ATP/ energy production. It also is considered anti-ageing (consider supplementing if over 35) and can help with egg quality and sperm quality - so typically recommended for fertility. There has also been research done on it as an effective supplement for PCOS.
Recommend? COQ10 is a really great supplement, in our opinion. Whilst it's not essential for everyone, it can be a really great tool especially if TTC and for PCOS.
Some consider berberine to be a type of "natural metformin" as it has strong blood glucose-lowering effects and there have been studies done on this as its role on aiding with weight loss.
Recommend? For PCOS where there is evidence of insulin resistance. It can be harsh on the GI tract, so if you are prone to stomach issues, start with a low dose. Always consult with your health care professional when considering adding in a new supplement.
Another powerful antioxidant flavonoid found in the skin and seeds of grapes (and yes, red wine too, although we're not sure if we could really consider it a health food). It is often used in PCOS for lowering testosterone and DHEA as well as having insulin sensitising effects.
Recommend? Some have good results with it, others don't notice a huge difference. It's not an absolute necessity supplement to include if you're trying to keep supplementation to a minimum but can be a helpful addition to a PCOS protocol.
Generally praised as being a women's health hero, Vitex is often used for painful PMS symptoms, amenorrhea, cycle irregularities and fertility. It typically does this by raising progesterone (& LH) and balancing out the rest of the sex hormones.
Recommend? It really depends. Please don't take vitex unless working with a health care professional who can monitor by keeping an eye on your hormone panel as it can be a strong herb and it is not typically recommended in PCOS due to its LH increasing properties.
We need EFAs for a whole host of different functions throughout our bodies. The right balance of omega-3 is really important from cell membrane integrity, which is necessary to ensure that important nutrients can get into our cells. It also helps increase insulin sensitivity on a cellular level as well as being a key, if not the main, anti-inflammatory staple supplement. Also worth noting if one has painful periods or PMS.
Recommend? Yes. But a high-quality version. If you're opting for fish oil, ensure that the vitamin E typically included (to stop oxidisation) doesn't clash with any other supplements your taking and avoid placing it in direct sunlight. A good one will come in a dark glass bottle.
A staple for optimal health, not just hormone health. We need a healthy gut microbiome for countless reasons, one of those being so that we can effectively excrete of used, metabolised hormones to stop them from recirculating and causing havoc. There are also strong links between gut health and skin health AND mental health. There are some really great supplements out there that now contain both pre and probiotics.
Recommend? Yes. Looking after your gut is always a good idea. If there is evidence of extreme GIT disruption, always speak with your health care professional as sometimes, they can cause more harm than good.
No, not the black chewy sweets. Liquorice root is often used in herbal medicine for its adrenal supporting properties and aid in restoring healthy cortisol levels.
Recommend? Yes, for most people with signs of adrenal dysfunction. It's an easy herb to incorporate VIA tea or tincture. Note - if you have hypertension/ family history regarding blood pressure, avoid.
NAC & GLUTATHIONE
Clumping these two together NOT because they should be taken together, but because their properties are similar. For those with obvious oestrogen dominance or symptoms of sluggish detoxification, these amino acids can be highly supportive of the liver and its detoxification phases.
NAC has also be researched in regards to improving insulin sensitivity, lowering testosterone levels and aiding in supporting fertility.
Recommend? Yes, short term. As always, everyone is different, so do your research and speak with a health care professional.
Another "hormone balancing staple" that is often highly praised, maca can be a really great tool for hormonal imbalances - such as low libido, irregular cycles, low energy or more persistent conditions whether it is perimenopause, PCOS, amenorrhea.
Recommend? Yes and no. If you are prone to anxiety/ a very stressful person, maca can be a little overstimulating. In general, maca can be a nice addition to smoothies for the majority of people.
Alpha reductase inhibitor, prevents the unwanted symptoms of high DHT e.g acne, hair loss, excess hair growth.
Recommend: for PCOS and an overactive 5-alpha pathway. We recommend, as with all of these supplements, using alongside diet and lifestyle changes as on its own, it won't do much.
Simply put, DIM aids the detoxification and metabolism of oestrogen and helps it take the "healthier" pathway of detoxification, both prevent a build-up and a dominance which can result in amplified PMS symptoms. It can also be helpful for long, irregular cycles or heavy periods.
Recommend: Only if there is evidence of poor oestrogen metabolism/ detoxification. Use with a health care professional.
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