The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

If you have PCOS, you’ve probably tried a number of things to help your health, and you probably have a number of concerns.

Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, more likely to suffer metabolic disorders and insulin-related conditions, and, alongside the extra facial hair, irregular periods, and infertility, it’s a lot to take.

I care deeply about this condition and have worked in my own way to help those who have it for many years (see my PCOS program: PCOS Unlocked)

But the more prevalent PCOS becomes, the more research is done, and new things are coming out all the time!

I’m so excited to bring you this information on L-carnitine, a very special amino acid that can help women with PCOS lose weight naturally and feel more energetic.  

L-carnitine is a nootropic amino acid found typically in meat products and milk.

Nootropics are types of supplements (like adaptogens) that work with the brain to increase it’s efficiency.  

L-carnitine helps alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, while increasing the mitochondria’s potential to burn fat.

For most people (i.e. those without PCOS) it is not a nutrient of concern and they synthesize an ample amount internally and from lysine and methionine in foods.  However, it has been found that women with PCOS are often deficient in L-carnitine, regardless of their diets.

L-carnitine improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower blood glucose, which is valuable for women with PCOS who are usually insulin resistant.  

This ability, plus the fact that PCOS women are often deficient in L-carnitine seem to make l-carnitine effective in promoting natural weight loss.  

It is also known to increase energy, lower ammonia, enhance energy during cancer treatment, improve exercise tolerance and energy in those with conditions like angina and congestive heart failure, and enhance sperm morphology, in case you were curious!

Although studies regarding weight loss with l-carnitine in general seem to find mixed benefit, studies which look at those deficient in l-carnitine or those with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome find it does help.

In fact, a recent study of PCOS only women found that compared to placebo, statistically significant weight loss occurred over 12 weeks with supplementation.

This is excellent news since it is no secret that PCOS women, with their hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically struggle to maintain a healthy weight.  

Adverse effects are rare but can include gastrointestinal disturbance, body odor, and seizures.  I’ve heard from some women that it causes a “fishy” odor in the urine, which can be unpleasant.  It may possibly interact with anticoagulants and certain thyroid medications so, like with any supplement or diet, you should get the okay from your doctor.  

Typical doses in the studies that showed weight loss benefits ranged from 500-2,000 mg a day, with 2,000 mg. a day being what was used with PCOS women.

Though the evidence for this supplement in PCOS are somewhat new, there’s enough promise that I find it interesting for PCOS ladies looking for weight loss help.  
It’s not a magic pill, and a focus on healthy dietary habits is absolutely still vital for women the PCOS.

But, one of the cool things about L-carnitine is that it is best deposited into muscles in hyperinsulinemic states, or during times when insulin is high (which is almost all the time for most PCOS women).

That means those with insulin resistant conditions would see the most benefit from supplementation.

If you’re interested in trying L-carnintine, give it at least 12 weeks of supplementation.  This is one (find l-carnitine on amazon here) I particularly like because the pills are in 1000 mg amounts so you can just take 2 a day, with meals.  

Find L-carnitine on Amazon here. 

Do you take l-carnitine and has it helped you?  What supplements are part of your PCOS routine?

 

(Here’s the citation for that study, in case you want to check it out- 

Samimi, M., Jamilian, M., Afshar Ebrahimi, F., Rahimi, M., Tajbakhsh, B., & Asemi, Z. (2016). Oral carnitine supplementation reduces body weight and insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Clinical endocrinology.)

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution

Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution

Estrogen dominance and probiotics are two words that don’t typically go together. Estrogen is a hormone. Probiotics are for guts. It seems that simple.

But it is not.

It is possible to cure your estrogen dominance with probiotics?

As it turns out, you very well may be able to.

Estrogen dominance (which I discuss at length in the post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where it’s coming from and what to do about it) is one of the most common health problems to face women today.

It is brought about by many different factors. Birth control pill usage, exposure to estrogens in the environment, having a high body fat percentage, stress, high intake of estrogenic foods (see this post on phytoestrogens: phytoestrgens in the body: how soy interferes with natural hormone balance and also Why I now believe phytoestrogens may be good for you), and an inflammatory diet can all be factors.

Estrogen dominance can be signalled by symptoms such as depression, mood swings, PMDD, PMS, menstrual cramps, low libido, weight gain, ovarian cysts, cystic fibroids, and variants of female cancers.

It can be an incredible challenge to overcome.

Yet emerging science is beginning to demonstrate that probiotics could play a role. In fact, probiotics could be a key component to an estrogen dominance solution.

Here’s how:

Estrogen dominance: Probiotics for reducing Beta-glucuronidase

I know it’s a mouthful, but it’s important.

Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that is produced by  “bad bacteria.” This enzyme breaks the bond between an important molecule the liver creates – glucuronic acid – and a toxin to which glucuronic acid is attached. The liver excretes glucuronic acid specifically in order to attach to toxins and then excrete them out of the body.

When beta-glucuronidase breaks the bond between glucuronic acid and toxins in the gut, these toxins are then freed to be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream through the intestinal walls.

This is extremely problematic.

All sorts of bad molecules count as “toxins.” This ranges from heavy metals to toxic by-products of your body’s metabolism, to excess estrogen.

The liver is the body’s primary way of clearing  “old” hormones out of the body. If you don’t have an efficient disposal system – that is, if your liver doesn’t function properly or if estrogen gets reabsorbed back into your body – then your hormone levels will simply keep piling up over time.

Fortunately, healthy supplementation of fermented foods (such as these: Organic Raw Kombucha, Fermented Natto beansKimchiCoconut Yogurt, Raw Organic SauerkrautKefirPickled Baby Beets) on a daily basis,

OR a high quality probiotic supplement such as my personal favorite Prescript Assist, will help boost good gut flora in your intestines, and replace the bad.

This will reduce the rate at which glucuronic acid is separated from toxins, and therefore help you excrete all the toxins your liver processes. Including estrogen.

Estrogen dominance: probiotics for increasing gut motility

Another powerful effect probiotics can have on estrogen dominance is by speeding up the rate of your bowels.

An unfortunately high percentage of women are constipated. An even higher percentage aren’t necessarily constipated per se, but do not have regular bowels movements – at least once a day.

This is okay, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for your health. But it does mean that you may be reabsorbing more toxins into your bloodstream than you would like.

The slower your digestion is, the more time toxins have to hang out in your intestines and get reabsorbed.

The speedier your digestion is (or, at least, having a health rate of digestion), the more efficiently your body will be able to empty out excess estrogen and other molecules your body doesn’t want hanging around.

The reason probiotics can help with this is that gut flora actually comprise a whopping 30% of the bulk of your stool. The more bulk you have – and of the healthy sort – the better your stool will move along. Gut flora also help process the foodstuff in your gut, which makes that more digestible and easily excretable as well.

Estrogen dominance: probiotics for reducing inflammation

Probiotics are now well known to help reduce inflammation in the body in a number of ways.

This has a number of positive downstream effects. One of them is on hormone production.

When the body is inflamed, it doesn’t necessarily produce hormones in the correct amounts. In fact, the body will often over-produce estrogen in times of stress, as it is a part of the pro-inflammatory response. This is important to note: reducing inflammation can help reduce excess estrogen levels, and reducing excess estrogen levels can help reduce inflammation. Estrogen is complex. 

But it is clear that excess inflammation is harmful, and that estrogen can play a role in it.

So marshalling all your resources – including a healthy gut biome – in fighting inflammation can go a long way towards hormone health.

Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution

Estrogen dominance can be helped by a number of things. I discuss many of them in this post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where It’s Coming from and What to Do About It.

Yet perhaps one of the best (and easiest) things you can do is make sure your gut is in good order.

My favorite broad spectrum probiotic – Prescript Assist – could possibly go a long a way.

I however personally prefer to do it the “natural” way – that is, with food. I keep my fridge stocked with Kimchi and Coconut Yogurt always.

Other good alternatives include Organic Raw Kombucha, Fermented Natto beansRaw Organic SauerkrautKefir, and Pickled Baby Beets.

And please, as ever, let me know if you have any questions, comments, or experiences to share! We all grow best when we learn from one another 🙂

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Causes of High Testosterone in Women

Causes of High Testosterone in Women

High testosterone in women is one of the most common hormone disorders. Literally tens of millions of women suffer from it in the United States alone.

You may suffer from high testosterone (or other male sex hormone) levels if you have acne, if your menstrual cycles are irregular, if you experience blood sugar swings, if your libido is low, if you have male pattern balding on the top of your head, or if you have male pattern hair growth on your face or elsewhere. These are some of the main symptoms.

There are many different things that can cause high testosterone in women.

The most common causes are:

High testosterone in women 1. Insulin resistance and diabetes

If you have type I or II diabetes or know that you are insulin resistant, high testosterone is quite possibly a problem for you.

Approximately  25% of the testosterone in female bodies comes from the ovaries. This is natural. However, insulin in the bloodstream stimulates the ovaries to produce more testosterone. This can seriously increase the ovaries’ output of testosterone.

Depending on the severity of the dysregulation, insulin can lead to a significant increase in free testosterone in the bloodstream. Sometimes this is as much as 2 or 3 times as much testosterone as is optimal or healthy.

This is very often the case in polycystic ovarian syndrome – more on which below.

High testosterone in women 2. Thyroid disorders

Sex hormone levels and thyroid hormone levels are intimately related in many ways.

One important way is through Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). When thyroid function slows — as in hypohyroidism — Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) levels fall. SHBG binds excess hormones to it in the blood. It is incredibly important for maintaining healthy hormone balance. When hormones like testosterone threaten to increase, if there is bountiful SHBG then it can bind the testosterone and minimize it’s threat. Without SHBG, excessive hormones can become a real problem.

In healthy women, 80% of testosterone is bound by SHBG in the blood. With decreased SHBG however, significantly more testosterone runs free and causes testosterone-related issues.

High testosterone in women 3. Stress

Stress can have a wide variety of negative impacts on the female body. Many of these have the potential to elevate testosterone levels.

For example, stress can cause hypothyroidism and the concomitant decreases in SHBG.

Stress can also decrease levels of estrogen and progesterone in the blood. Estrogen and progesterone perform a counter-balancing function to testosterone. Without them, testosterone levels can rise to unhealthy levels.

Stress also causes a rise in DHEA-S, which is a male sex hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is not testosterone – but it is one of testosterone’s closest cousins. It acts in a chemically similar way and will often cause the same hormone disruptions. Read more about this process here, and about how stress negatively impacts hormone production here.

High testosterone in women 4. Fasting after workouts

If you work out frequently and do not eat afterwards, your testosterone levels – as a woman, specifically – can rise unchecked.

After intense exercise, several hormone levels are elevated. Cortisol – the “stress hormone” – and testosterone are two of the strongest.

Cortisol levels fall naturally after a workout. But testosterone levels do not. They remain very high and decrease much more slowly if you do not eat afterward. If you do this on a regular or even daily basis this can cause a chronic problem.

I discuss how precisely to refuel in this post: how fasting after workouts causes high testosterone, acne, and PCOS.

High testosterone in women 5. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Finally, the most common cause of high testosterone in women in PCOS.

Now, it is not altogether clear what causes what: does high testosterone cause PCOS, or does PCOS cause high testosterone? No one is quite certain.

But what is certain is that the two are inextricably linked for many women. It may very well be the case that they both cause each other: high testosterone causes PCOS and PCOS causes high testosterone.

PCOS stands for Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and is the condition of having multiple cysts on one’s ovaries. There are three criteria used in diagnosing PCOS. In order to be diagnosed you must meet two of the three criteria: irregular or absent menstrual cycles, elevated testosterone or other male sex hormone levels, and cysts on the ovaries as demonstrated by an ultrasound.

PCOS affects as many as 15% of in America today, and is actually the leading cause of infertility, by a long shot.

So if you suffer from symptoms of high testosterone, from any of the above conditions such as hypothyroidism, stress, or insulin resistance / diabetes, you may want to investigate PCOS as a potential underlying cause or secondary effect of your condition.

PCOS may be a complex condition but this does not mean that it is insurmountable. I myself overcame my own PCOS (despite receiving terrible medical advice). So many of the women I have worked with on the issue have, too.

To read more of my work on PCOS and find out how its unique from what other people have done, check out any of these posts: What is PCOS? PCOS Treatment Options, The PCOS Diet, or my program on overcoming PCOS, PCOS Unlocked: The Manual.

 

 

So that’s it for common causes of high testosterone. Do you have other ones in your own experience? Questions, concerns? I’d love to hear about it – please let me know!

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

This Week in Paleo: The Liver and Your Hormones

This Week in Paleo: The Liver and Your Hormones

When we think about our hormonal health, it’s easy to think of it as a factor in and of itself.

But just like every other process in the body, hormonal health is intricately connected with the other processes of the body, and many of the other organs.

The liver in particular plays an important role in the maintenance of hormonal health and to properly balance our hormone’s we can’t neglect this important organ. 

How the Liver Balances Hormones

The liver is where things go to be filtered.  Anything circulating that is in excess (like too much estrogen or testosterone, for example), anything that is toxic, and waste products are processed through the liver and excreted from the body. 

In a healthy liver, this means that the onslaughts of daily life in the form of toxins and old hormones get processed out and everything functions in balance.

But sometimes, other conditions like PCOS mean that for myriad reasons too many hormones are cycling around the body.

If the liver can’t process them because it’s already overwhelmed with toxin load or poor diet, these excess hormones can reak havoc and cause things like estrogen dominance or exacerbate PCOS symptoms.

Other negative things can occur if the liver get overloaded, including the production of free radicals that the liver can’t then contain and excrete.

(See my article on estrogen dominance here.  For help with PCOS, check out my PCOS Unlocked program here.)

That’s why it’s so important to not only think about balancing our hormones, but about supporting our liver.

Supporting the Liver

A properly supported liver can make the difference between chronic hormonal imbalance and the ability to heal.  

The liver goes through 2 stages of detoxification , called Phase I and Phase II which are each equally important.  Several processes happen during these two phases that break down waste products into less harmful or weaker versions of themselves and eventually excrete them through urine or fecal matter.

If any of these processes gets thwarted along the way, it can cause any of the problems mentioned above.

(If digestion is too slow (constipation) or the gut flora balance is off, it’s possible for some hormones to be re-absorbed.  That’s why it’s also important to work to improve our digestion, making sure to drink enough water and eat enough fiber as well as improve gut health.  Fortunately, many of the steps to take to support the liver are also great for digestion!)

The most important thing to do to support the liver is to avoid foods and toxins that burden the liver.

Don’t tax the liver with toxic substances like alcohol.  As much as it’s fun to have a drink now and then, alcohol is a poison which primarily burdens the liver.  Alcohol in particular steals glutathione which increases estrogen levels in the blood.

Other things to avoid include:

To support the liver, several foods should be a major part of the diet. These foods include the following:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Cruciferous and sufur containing vegetables like brocolli and onions
  • Grass-fed organic meats, especially red meat, and eggs
  • Pure, filtered water

If you struggle already with a slugglish liver or have a condition like estrogen dominance or PCOS, the following supplements help support the liver through Phase I and Phase II detoxification and can be really helpful:

  • Methylated forms of B12 (find it here), B6 (find it here), and Folic Acid (find it here): important for the passing of methyl groups which helps with the excretion of hormones like estrogen and is sometimes difficult in women with PCOS.
  • DIM (I like this one): contains the strongest components of cruciferous vegetables known to help break down excess hormones.
  • Calcium D Glucarate (I like this brand) supports the glucuronidation of  the liver and prevents excess estrogen from being re-absorbed in the bowels.
  • Glutathione (find it here): important for the detoxification of alcohol. Smoking, chronic stress, and infections or inflammatory disorders also deplete this important nutrient.

Doing a liver “detox” that you might find on Pinterest of drinking some kind of miserable lemon-water concoction for 3 days with no solid food is not necessary.

If you’re curious how to do a liver detox properly as well as read the more scientific descriptions of Phase I and Phase II liver detox, read my article here. 

How do you like to support the liver?

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Are you estrogen dominant?

Are you estrogen dominant?

Millions of women suffer from estrogen dominance. But most of the time, they don’t even know it.

In this post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where its Coming from and What to do About it – I discuss various potential origins of and solutions to estrogen dominance.

Today I want to round out that discussion by talking about indicators that you may suffer from estrogen dominance.

What is Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance is the condition of having estrogen as the dominant female sex hormone in the body. This means that there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone. 

This can occur as a result of high estrogen – or can occur as a result of low progesterone.

Other hormones that are metabolic or are male sex hormones such as testosterone don’t normally have much of an effect on estrogen dominance. You can have high testosterone (or DHEA-S or cortisol or thyroid hormone) and high estrogen at the same time.

Causes of Estrogen Dominance

In this post I talk at great length about the causes of estrogen dominance. As a quick summary here are the most common causes:

Estrogen-containing birth control pills

Stress

Eating processed foods

Consuming high amounts of soy, flax, and other phytoestrogens (or see here for how my thoughts have evolved on the topic)

Sedentariness (see this post on walking)

BPA and other estrogens in the environment (check out my favorite BPA-free products here)

High body fat percentage (check out my program for healthy, sustainable weight loss here)

Signs you may be estrogen dominant

Are you one of the millions of women who suffer from estrogen dominance and simply don’t know it?

It’s possible. I don’t intend to be anything close to scary with this post – I am not here to scare you into thinking you have a problem. But if you do have recurring symptoms and cannot figure out why, maybe this list will help. 

Here are the most common signs of estrogen dominance:

– PMS (more on which here)

Do you suffer from irritability, depression, or mood swings before your period? This often indicates that estrogen and progesterone are not in the best possible balance. Now, even with good balance some women will experience PMS, but being off balance certainly does not help.

– Depression

The brain is full of hormone receptors. Estrogen dominance can be a big problem for keeping neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in balance.

Low estrogen is often associated with irritability or anxiety, whereas high estrogen is often associated with feelings of depression. I personally experience a significant darkening of my mood whenever I consume a lot of phytoestrogenic foods.

– Breast tenderness

Estrogen plays an important role in the modulation of blood vessels (more on which in this post explaining hot flashes). It can increase blood flow to the breasts and cause them to feel heavy and tender. 

– Thyroid issues

High estrogen levels can interfere with thyroid hormone activity. (See this post for 19 indicators you may be hypothyroid.) This can lead to thyroid issues such as cold hands and feet, brittle hair and nails, constipation, difficulty losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, and fatigue. 

– Menstrual cramps

If you suffer from menstrual cramping, estrogen dominance may be playing a role (more on cramps here). Estrogen plays a role in stimulating uterine tissue growth throughout the course of a menstrual period, so the higher your estrogen levels are the more tissue your body will have to shed when the time comes.

A more severe version of menstrual cramping occurs when women have endometriosis, which you can learn more about here.

– Heavy menstrual bleeding

As a result of the enhanced tissue development discussed above, the body has more tissue to shed, and therefore more blood, every month. If you have a very heavy flow, elevated estrogen levels may play a role.

– Cysts in the breasts or ovaries or uterine fibroids

If you suffer from fibroids or cysts then estrogen dominance is probably an area you want to look into addressing. Estrogen stimulates cyst, fibroid, and tumor growth. There is a lot of debate in the medical community as to what should be done about this – specifically with respect to soy consumption – but as it stands it’s probably best to really keep an eye on estrogen levels and do what you can if you suffer from any of these issues.

– Low sex drive

Sex drive is complicated. I won’t say that high estrogen necessarily is anyone’s problem. For many women, low estrogen is a problem for sex drive. (See this post on the 10 most common causes of low libido for women)

The key to a robust libido is balance. So if your estrogen levels are too high, then that is a kind of imbalance that could be problematic for your sex drive. 

– “Excess” weight or weight gain, especially in the hips and thighs 

The hips and thighs are “female” fat areas for a reason: estrogen encourages fat to be deposited specifically in these areas.

If you notice your lower body gaining weight relative to the rest of your body, this may be a sign that your estrogen levels are increasing. If, however, this area has always been where you stored your body fat, then it may simply be a genetic issue for you. There is no real way to tell unless there is a marked change in your body’s fat deposition habits.

To learn more about hormones and how the affect weight gain and even weight loss (yes, hormones can help with fat loss), I wrote a program detailing how women can maximize their hormone health and weight status in a healthy and sustainable way. You can read more about it if you like at this link.

Estrogen dominance: what to do about it?

All that being said – if you suspect you have estrogen dominance – what should you do?

First and foremost – consider getting your hormone levels tested.

Estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estradiol is the most prominent estrogen in the reproductive years as it is the one synthesized by the reproductive system. It is 80 times more potent than the other estrogens. It will often be elevated if you are estrogen dominant.

Estrone is produced by fat cells. If you struggle with significant body fat percentage this could be overly elevated for you.

Estriol is primarily elevated during pregnancy.

You will also want to test progesterone. If your progesterone levels are low, then this needs to be remedied as much as if not more so than estrogen. Read more about progesterone (and why reducing stress is the best way to enhance it) here.

Thyroid hormones may be a concern for you. T3, T4, TSH, and TPO are all crucial for understanding what’s really going on with your thyroid hormones. For the best resource on all kinds of thyroid issues, check out Izabella Wentz’s Root Cause.

Vitamin D is important for healthy estrogen levels so you may want to get that tested too. If low, consider supplementing with a great emulsified D like this one.

If you get your hormones tested and find out that your estrogen levels are low, or progesterone is low, or especially that your testosterone or DHEA-S levels are high, then you may want to look into Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome as a potential underlying problem. Read more about PCOS here: What Is PCOS? And check out my program for overcoming it here.

Secondly, reconsider hormonal birth control. 

Getting off of the pill or getting on a very low-dose pill is critical. You can read about the side effects, risks, and management tricks of birth control in this PDF.

Third, optimize your diet.

Foods that support thyroid health such as seafood and seaweed should be quite helpful for managing your symptoms. (If you do not consume seaweed regularly consider a small dose kelp supplement).

Foods to emphasize for estrogen clearing are those that boost B vitamin levels, omega 3 levels (fermented cod liver oil is an excellent way to meet the body’s need for omega 3 while also getting the rare but crucial vitamins A, D, and K), choline (in supplement form here), zinc (here), magnesium (here), calcium, and vitamin D.

For that reason, eggs (choline), fish (omega 3 fats, iodine, selenium, and vitamin D), liver and other organ meats (vitamin A,  vitamin K, B vitamins, and iron, zinc, manganese, etc), and high quality animal protein are all musts.

Leafy greens are incredibly important for supporting the liver clearing estrogen out of the body. Aim for at least one serving a day, at minimum!

Foods to be avoided are all processed sugars, grains, omega 6 seed oils, phytoestrogens which include soy, flax, legumes, seeds, and some herbs, which I list in great detail here, and alcohol.

Fourth, consider supplementing.

I listed FCLO, choline, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D above all as good nutrients to eat plentifully or consider supplementing for estrogen  dominance.

Some herbs have also been rumored to be helpful. Personally, I don’t love to recommend herbs, especially ones that affect hormone balance, such as chasteberry. However, chasteberry has been rumored to be quite effective for estrogen dominance. Herbs that support liver health (and therefore estrogen detox) are milk thistle (here) and a good dandelion root (here). 

Additionally, L-taurine promotes bile circulation, which enhances estrogen’s excretion out of the body.

Fifth, exercise!

Exercise is incredibly important, as it can speed up the liver’s detox processes, sharpen insulin sensitivity, boost weight loss, help mitigate mood swing problems associated with estrogen dominance, and reduce levels of stress hormones in the body. You can read all about my exercise recommendations in this book.

Sixth, reduce stress. 

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Stress makes progesterone levels plummet which is terrible for healthy hormone balance.

More estrogen dominance tools and resources

Here are most of the links I have written about above and a few more, all of which can help if you like. Of course, the best way to beat estrogen dominance is with a healthy, paleo-type diet and lifestyle with exercise and stress reduction. But supplements can often help quite a bit.

Desiccated liver (in case you don’t like eating it!)

My favorite fermented foods for gut healing, healing constipation

cod liver oil for reducing inflammation and getting the important but rare A, D, and K vitamins

Milk thistle for liver support

Dandelion root for liver support

Paleo fiber

A great probiotic supplement like this

My favorite magnesium here

A list of my favorite fermented foods here

A good small dose kelp supplement

L-taurine

BPA free coconut milk

BPA free water bottle

 

Hope that helps — and please keep me posted in the comments on your experiences! Would love to hear about them!

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Low Estrogen: The Link

Vitamin D Deficiency and Low Estrogen: The Link

An estimated 77% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D is one of the most crucial elements for health in the whole human body. It is necessary for moderating and utilizing calcium, which is one of the most important elements in cellular function. It also moderates and utilizes phosphate. It is crucial to immune system function, to reproductive function, to bone health, and to healthy neurotransmitter and mental health.

Of striking importance is it’s role in women’s health.

First, researchers have found that there are specific proteins determined by DNA that control the ability of the body to use and process vitamin D and estrogen at receptor sites at the same time. This suggests that the genetic success of the two molecules is paired. The status of vitamin D or estrogen in any given individual may indicate problems in the other element.

If you are deficient in vitamin D, you may be deficient in estrogen. If you are deficient in estrogen, you may be deficient in vitamin D.

Women’s genes appear to modulate hormones — specifically estrogen — and vitamin D in the same way. Genetically determined receptor sites for estrogen and vitamin D work together to make sure that the body is able to ingest and process the minerals and hormones that it needs for maximum health.

Second, Vitamin D appears to play a critical role in the activity of reproductive hormones, specifically estrogen.  Vitamin D is active at hormone receptor sites, helping estrogen to be able to be activated.

Without sufficient vitamin D, even women with genetically healthy estrogen receptors are at risk of suffering from low estrogen.

Women are constantly asking me what they can do to increase their estrogen levels.

With conditions like hypothalamic amenorrhea, PCOS, female atheltic triad syndrome, or simple stress, it is very common to have low estrogen levels.

If you suffer from any of these conditions, there is a good chance you also have low estrogen (best to get tested to be sure!).

I normally tell women with these conditions that the best thing they can do is:

eat a diet rich in carbohydrate and fat, reduce stress, and perhaps gain some weight. They may also wish to play around with phytoestrogen intake.

What I have been remiss in overlooking is how powerful vitamin D supplementation can be.

Research demonstrates that women who are deficient in estrogen are often deficient in vitamin D.

Since vitamin D helps boost estrogen utilization at receptor sites, as well as increases health and hormone production in general, it may be a significant for boosting estrogen levels.

To that end, I highly recommend either being sure to get at least 20 minutes of SPF-free noontime sun exposure daily, or taking an emulsified vitamin D supplement.

I personally take a vitamin D supplement and it is the most important thing I do all day. It curbs my cravings, helps me sleep better at night, strengthens my immune system, boosts my libido, and helps me be more energetic.

The vitamin D supplement I take is available at Amazon here.

What about menopause?

Is vitamin D effective for raising estrogen levels at menopause?

Even while vitamin D is rumored to help, unfortunately, the reading I have done suggests that it doesn’t make too much of a difference. This is because menopause is marked by a decrease in hormone production. Vitamin D may help estrogen be active at receptor sites, but if the ovaries have stopped making estrogen altogether, then there’s very little vitamin D can do to help.

Fortunately, there is always some estrogen left over being produced by the ovaries, and estrogen is still produced by fat cells. To that end, vitamin D can certainly help in menopause (and will definitely help with problems like insulin resistance, inflammation, a weak immune system, energy, mood, and bone density – all other estrogen remaining issues). I do recommend taking it (again, my favorite supplement here at Amazon) as a menopausal women.

That just should also be complemented by other strategies for increasing estrogen and hormone production in menopause:

plenty of carbs and fats; plenty of sleep; lots of movement and walking; weight-bearing, anaerobic exercises; and phytoestrogen experimentation.

What about estrogen dominance?

What does vitamin D do if you have too much estrogen, however? Does it just make it worse?

Actually, it doesn’t.

Vitamin D has been shown to reduce estrogen and progesterone levels in those who have too much of these hormones. Vitamin D has a significant moderating effect. It makes the receptor sites function properly, such that it boosts utilization if need be or decreases utilization if need be. If you have too much, it can reduce your levels. If you have too little, it can enhance them.

So don’t fear vitamin D if you have high estrogen levels. In fact, you may in all likelihood benefit from supplementation as well.

Here, again, is the vitamin D supplement I personally take.

And even though “adequate” vitamin D levels are around 30 ng/mL, aim for around 50-60 if you’re getting your blood tested, because that’s where you get your best benefits. You can test your levels through your local doctor or an online service like WellnessFX if you’re interested!

Dealing with low estrogen? Find out why Vitamin D supplement may help.

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