There is an exhaustive range of supplements for hormone health. But which is best for you and your needs?
Although the best source of vitamins and minerals is through a well balanced diet, many foods today are depleted in these vital trace elements. Most of us need to supplement our diet with some of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function optimally.
The following is a list of supplements for hormone health:
Supplements for hormone health
- A good multivitamin and mineral supplement as an ‘all rounder’. Take a woman’s multivitamin and mineral formula, preferably one containing vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium.
- B vitamins are important for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. B vitamins are also important for energy production, fat burning, digestion and hormone imbalances, including your thyroid gland and metabolism. B vitamins are beneficial for your nervous system and adrenals and can helpful in times of stress. They also help boost energy, and ease anxiety and irritability. B vitamins are needed by the liver to convert excess oestrogen into weaker and less dangerous forms. B vitamins are of benefit in times of stress and help with nervous system activity and provide energy. Specific B vitamins used in the stress response include B2, B5 and B6.
- Vitamin B6 in particular has been found to increase progesterone levels and inhibit the excessive production of prolactin. Vitamin B6 levels may be reduced due to the contraceptive pill. Vitamin B6 can be helpful for high prolactin, depression, anxiety, fluid retention and breast tenderness.
- Magnesium balances blood sugar levels, is essential for energy production and is involved in the nervous system and in the relaxation of muscles. It can be used to help relieve irritability, fatigue, period cramps, cravings, blood sugar problems and fluid retention. There is a strong link between magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance.
- Zinc is essential for hormone balance and tissue repair. It also helps with appetite control and is necessary for the correct action of insulin, hence a healthy blood sugar balance. It also functions together with selenium and vitamins A and E in the manufacture of thyroid hormones. Because zinc is an essential mineral used for wound healing and the normal oil gland function of the skin, it is an excellent mineral for skin problems.
- Calcium is an important mineral for cramps, headache and pelvic pain. Calcium is essential to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Make sure you choose a calcium supplement which also contains vitamin D, magnesium and manganese for maximum absorption.
- Iron is an important supplement for women experiencing heavy periods. A loss of iron can lead to anaemia, which can cause extreme fatigue and weakness. Iron may be needed if you are bleeding heavily and your iron levels are low. NB. Inappropriate use of iron supplements can interfere with zinc uptake. Iron should be taken with vitamin C and away from tea, calcium, zinc and some herbs (e.g. chamomile, fenugreek, milk thistle, lime flowers, peppermint, rosemary and vervain).
- Omega 3 oils (EPA & DHA) found in oily fish and flaxseeds but also as a supplement are helpful for dry skin, vaginal dryness, fatigue, depression, lack of motivation, weight problems, memory problems, blood sugar imbalances and cellular health. Research has shown that women with low intakes of Omega 3 oils have more painful periods than women who have a good intake
- Evening primrose oil can be helpful for breast tenderness, dry skin and vaginal dryness
- Vitamin A is an immune system booster, antioxidant and important for wound healing and skin conditions such as acne. A Vitamin A deficiency has been found in women with heavy bleeding. One study showed that 92% of women who are prescribed supplemental vitamin A found that their heavy bleeding was either cured or alleviated. Beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in the body.
- Vitamin C is well known for helping boost the immune system and provide resistance to disease. It is also used for tissue repair. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids is shown to help reduce hot flushes. Vitamin C helps build up collagen, which gives skin its elasticity. It is also helpful in preventing and treating vaginal dryness (which can cause discomfort when the vagina loses some of its ‘stretch’). It can also help retain the elasticity in the urinary tract and prevent leakage or stress incontinence, which is common during menopause. Collagen is also important for your bones. Vitamin C when combined with bioflavonoids is also helpful with period pain because the combination helps relax smooth muscle and reduce inflammation.
- Vitamin E plays an important role in tissue repair and healing and is an antioxidant. Vitamin E is effective for reducing hot flushes and helping with vaginal dryness.
- Selenium, when taken together with vitamin E, has been reported to decrease inflammation associated with endometriosis, as well as boosting the immune system. Selenium together with zinc is also important for healthy thyroid gland functioning. It also assists in removing toxins from the body. Many agricultural areas are extremely deficient in selenium, so a supplement form of selenium is highly recommended.
- Iodine is necessary for healthy thyroid gland function and the development of the baby’s nervous system. Many countries routinely provide iodine supplements for the duration of the pregnancy.
- L-tyrosine (together with iodine) produces thyroid hormones that control the body’s metabolism. A deficiency of tyrosine leads to hypothyroidism and low adrenal function.
- Chromium is essential for insulin’s response on blood sugar, and helps with cravings, hunger and weight loss/fat burning. Since chromium helps to relieve blood sugar imbalance, it may help to alleviate symptoms of sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
- Co-enzyme Q10 is a nutrient that assists with energy production and oxygen carrying capacity in our bloodstream. Coenzyme Q10 also assists normal carbohydrate metabolism (the way our bodies break down the carbohydrates we eat to turn them into energy.
- Folate supplementation is routinely recommended prior to and during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is testimony to the growing support for preconception nutrient supplementation. Folate reduces the risk of congenital diseases such as spina bifida and may prevent miscarriages. Many common household foodstuffs are now also fortified with folic acid. Folate is essential for the formation of genetic material (DNA, RNA). Supplementation of 400mgs per day in early pregnancy may reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by 48-80%.
- Bromelain is an enzyme contained in pineapples which has been found to be extremely useful for treating painful periods. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps as a natural blood thinner.
- DIM (Di-indole methane) helps the liver convert oestrogen into a healthier form. It is beneficial for conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis & fibroids. DIM also helps correct androgen (e.g. testosterone) excess, a common cause of acne, especially sore, cystic acne. The dose is dependent on body weight.
- Amino acids for liver function; glutathione, glutamine and sulphur containing amino acids aid in liver detoxification.
NB. For best results, try these recommended supplements for hormone health for a period of three months. These supplements are best taken under the care and guidance of your healthcare practitioner.