Hormone Imbalances are often the cause of debilitating symptoms

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for the advice of your own health care provider

Hormone imbalances are often the cause of undesirable physical and emotional changes in the body thought to be brought on by old age, but many young people experience these same symptoms as their older counter parts do.

It's not just being over 40 years old that brings on problems with hormones and the endocrine system. Lifestyle habits, especially the way we eat have a tremendous impact on whether our bodies have healthy hormone levels or a hormone imbalance.

Here is an overview of the main glands responsible for producing and secreting different hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers sent from glands and cells to regulate all the different bodily functions, everything from hunger and digestion, sleeping and alertness, to moods, energy level, metabolism and much more.


                                                                                                             

Production and secretion of hormones is not limited to the glands listed here. The heart, kidneys, liver, skin and stomach also produce and secret hormones. There are at least 80 known hormones, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, and surely many more yet to be discovered.

Many of the functions of these neurotransmitters (hormones) overlap others with a similar function. Some hormones control others. With  the large amount of control these chemical compounds over our physiology, it's no wonder a hormone imbalance can cause crippling physical and emotional side effects.


Experts agree close to 90% of all adults over age 35 suffer with some hormone dysfunction. Our modern culture has contributed to the problem.

With the technology today, it's hard to escape environmental toxins in and around our food and air that act like hormones once they they are in the body.They are especially prevalent in petrochemical products like plastics, chemical pesticides and fertilizers among other things.

The food industry fosters even more hormone imbalance issues by marketing processed foods with chemicals and other additives that aren't natural to the human body, and when ingested, leave these poisons to alter the natural balance of a persons endocrine system.


Some of the most common symptoms of hormone imbalance include:

  • Feeling fatigued and sluggish
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Dry/brittle hair
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Poor memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Auto-immune diseases
  • Cancer
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Headaches           
    Symptoms specific to men
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Shrinking testicles
    Symptoms specific to women
  • Sore breasts
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hair growth on face or chest


When patients go into most doctor's offices complaining of these symptoms, they leave with either a prescription for antidepressants, synthetic hormone replacement, or other prescription to boost their energy and lift their mood, or they get told it's just what happens when you start getting old. 

Most physicians are trained to prescribe medicine for relief of symptoms, not to find the root cause of symptoms and remove it at it's source. On the other hand, some doctors, Like Dr. Sara Gottfried acknowledge that science has proven a person can keep their body healthy without prescription drugs by maintaining a nutrient-dense diet, using natural supplements and getting regular, targeted exercise.



Best vitamins For Optimum Hormone Balance

According to  Dr. Sara Gottfried, a well-known gynecologist who specializes in treating hormonal problems in women through the most natural means possible, there is scientific proof that maintaining a nutrient-rich food diet, with targeted supplementing and other healthy life style habits, can keep hormones in balance without prescription drugs.

Some vitamins and minerals affect the endocrine system and hormones more than others. Experts agree the B vitamin complex (made up of several different vitamins) are some of the most important to prevent a hormone imbalance. They all have important roles in the nervous system, brain function and energy metabolism in the body, including how hormones are produced and utilized.

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Is used to help metabolize carbohydrates and fats, being a co-enzyme of transketolase, used especially in building fatty acids in the liver and hormones in the adrenal cortex. Much of this vitamin is lost in foods (mostly in whole grains) when they are highly processed.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)-This vitamin is used as an antioxidant to destroy free radicals, which are high in number in the adrenals because they are created in the process of making and secreting hormones in the adrenal glands. A study at University of California at Berkley showed when rats were deprived of Riboflavin, the adrenal glands could not produce enough stress hormone to increase blood or liver glucose.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Helps avoid hormone imbalance by acting as a co-enzyme with NADPH/NADP to help create precursors to the hormone cortisol in the adrenal glands. It also helps raise  HDL in the blood which removes cholesterol from the body.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) B5 becomes a part of co-enzyme A in the body, a substance used to build cholesterol and turn it into hormones including DHE, testosterone and estrogen among many. A study at Berkley showed without enough vitamin B5, rats could not produce enough hormone to raise the glucose to needed levels in the liver and blood. Like Thiamine, much of B5 is destroyed in processing so it is best to get it from whole, unprocessed foods. Pantothenic acid is found in almost every food so it's quite easy to get your daily RDI of it.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)This vitamin has as many as six forms, Pyridoxine being a common form is used in the body as an enzyme co-factor in the metabolism and synthesis of the  mineral Selenium, an element found in high concentration in the thyroid, used in thyroid hormone secretion. B6 is also used as a co-factor in the biosynthesis of sphingolipids, fats which have numerous roles in steroid hormone metabolism.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate) The connection to hormone imbalance isn't found to be as strong with Vitamin B9 as with other B vitamins but it is used to relieve many symptoms associated with hormonal problems such as fatigue, poor memory and depression. It also helps lower levels of homocysteines in the blood, by-products of digested protiens, that have been shown to cause problems with blood flow through arteries. high levels of homocysteines are also found in people with hypothyroidism  along with lower levels of folate (B9) in the blood, showing an indirect connection to thyroid hormone imbalance.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Forty percent of people in a study from Tufts University in Framingham Massachusetts, between the ages of 26 and 83 were found with a B12 vitamin deficiency. B12 is important for thyroid function as well as for a healthy nervous system and to produce red blood cells. People with a deficiency may have symptoms of depression, fatigue and memory loss. Deficiencies are common because it is a complex vitamin to digest, needing an enzyme to separate it from the protein it's attached to, if this enzyme is missing B12 will not be absorbed in the body. The only reliable sources of Vitamin B12 are animal products (meat and dairy). Therefore vegans must take supplements to get their B12 vitamins.
  • Choline This nutrient was added to the official list of required nutrients in 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences and is listed with the B complex vitamins. It plays an important role in forming LDL (low density lipo-protein),in the liver, which transports cholesterol to muscles and cells in the body where it can help build healthy muscles and produce steroid hormones. It also helps prevent hormone imbalance by converting one form of estrogen in the liver to a more favorable form for the body. One source says only 2% of post-menopausal women get enough Choline in their diets.
  • Biotin Many know Biotin for producing healthy skin, hair and nails, but it is also important for regulating insulin secretion in the pancreas. It is also an important part of fatty acid metabolism which produces Eicosanoid hormones, including prostaglandins.

Vitamin C complex (ascorbate) Is said by experts to be one of the most important nutrients for adrenal gland health and preventing hormone imbalance.

Most people don't think of Vitamin C as a "complex" of several nutrients like the B complex, but many nutrition experts say it is. From this view Ascorbic acid, as Vitamin C supplements are called, is only one component of this vitamin. It is actually just the outer shell of the vitamin.

Other nutrients in this group of vitamins include:

  • Rutin - This is one of the strongest bioflavonoid antioxidants. It prevents oxidation of vitamin C, keeping it usable to the body. It also helps strengthen blood vessels. A 2013 study from Norway showed rats that were fed daily amounts of rutin had higher thyroid activity and iodine absorption.
  • Ascorbigen - This is a form of vitamin C that can penetrate the skin. Ascorbigen aids in avoiding hormone imbalance because it helps metabolize and synthesize hormones in the body like estrogen.
  • P Factors - This would be flavonoids which help strengthen blood vessels and act as antioxidants. Like Rutin, other flavonoids, of which there are thousands, also help prevent the oxidation of vitamin C so it can continue to benefit the metabolic process in the body.
  • J Factors - The elements in vitamin C that help move oxygen in the blood are the ""J" factors. Vitamin C helps blood oxygenation in a least two ways. It helps increase nitric oxide production which transports oxygen to cells and tissues. It also helps absorb nonheme  iron (from plants),  another carrier of O2 in the blood.
  • K Factors -Vitamin K was thought to be a part of the C vitamin complex by those like Dr. Royal Lee, he suspected Vitamin K was what strengthened smaller blood vessels while vitamin C supported the larger blood vessels. This link of Vitamin K strengthening small blood vessels is not clear, but what is known is that this vitamin plays a large role in blood clotting. When Vitamin C is depleted, it reduces the amount of prothrombin, a protein use by vitamin K to stop bleeding, thus causing it to take longer for a hemmorhage to stop. Vitamins C and K also work together to kill cancer cells.
  •  Tyrosinase-an enzyme that converts the amino acid tyrosine into L-DOPA, a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine which is synthesized into adrenaline.  According to David Greenberg from U.C. Berkley,  two forms of ascorbic acid mixed together can also convert tyrosine into L-DOPA without the help of tyrosinase.

Healthy Fats are an important part
of hormone imbalance prevention

For decades dietary fat has been condemned and blamed for causing cardiovascular disease and for making people overweight among other problems, but the truth is your body needs fat for many functions including synthesizing and producing steroid (sex) hormones.

As I discussed a little on the healthy diet page, there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Not ALL saturated fats are unhealthy. The types to stay away from are the manufactured , or 'hydrogenated' fats, which are used in processed food. According to this study Natural trans-fats from meat and dairy appear to have health benefits rather than unhealthy effects on the body.

In man-made trans-fats, Hydrogen is pumped into polyunsaturated vegetable oil to make it saturated. It causes the 'kinks' to point the opposite direction than they naturally do, making it hard for the body to metabolize. The reason this is done is to give the food a longer shelf life and make it easier to cook with. This, synthetic 'trans-fat' is what contributes to cardiovascular disease. If it says " partially hydrogenated" or hydrogenated oil on the ingredients, don't buy it.

Coconut oil

One of the best choices for a healthy saturated fat is coconut oil. Studies of cultures whose diets consist of large quantities of unprocessed coconut oil show lower rates of heart disease and related illnesses.

Among it's many health benefits, coconut oil helps those with hormone imbalance in several ways. It promotes healthy pancreas and liver function, both important organs for hormone metabolism and production. With its medium as opposed to long-chain fatty acid composition, it metabolizes quickly and easily into a usable form of energy for the body, helping maintain a healthy thyroid gland.

Omega3s for hormone imbalance

Omega3 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats that your body can't make as it can other fats. That's why it's important to eat enough of the foods that are rich in Omega3s.

Studies have shown that cultures who eat a high seafood diet, especially with fish like wild salmon and cod, high in omega3 fatty acids, are healthier in many ways and show a lower death rate than those on a western diet.

Dr Barry Sears is the noted biochemist, who created and has authored many books on the zone diet , which focuses on fixing hormone imbalance with the correct ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to other fats in your body, and many experts conclude his diet method works.

Another physician with the same last name, Dr. William Sears, also authored a book with his son Dr. James Sears, The Omega-3 Effect On the virtues of Omega-3s.

The conclusion is, skimping on healthy, natural fats decreases hormone health in many ways. They are needed to produce and synthesized fat-soulble vitamins like A, E and D, which all aid in maintaining healthy hormone levels. Without healthy fats in the diet, the quality of fat cells is reduced, lessening the ability to make and secrete important steroid hormones. Natural fats also give us the energy needed to maintain a healthy endocrine system. Government agencies like the NIH and department of agriculture say dietary fat levels should be 10-35 % of caloric intake, but health and nutrition experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola believe our bodies need 50-70 % of our calories to come from good, body-friendly sources of fat for optimum health.


Other Tips to remedy hormone imbalance

  • Get regular moderate exercise -Research shows exercise can help keep energy levels up and the endocrine system working effectively. It also shows over exertion with an exercise program can be as bad as no exercise for hormone imbalance because it can raise cortisol levels too high.
  • Eat a healthy, whole-food diet - As mentioned above, processed food contains many additives that disrupt hormone production and function. To further the problem when food is highly processed, it depletes many of the healthy, vital nutrients that help the metabolism of hormones. Eat your food as close to how it was naturally made as possible.
  •  Stay away from refined sugar - Nutrition experts agree sugar is the most toxic food substance you can put in your body. This includes from every "refined" source, even honey and molasses (although they have more nutrients than table sugar). It also includes refined carbohydrates like white bread. You can get all the glucose your body needs with eating fruit, vegetables and whole-grains. Too much sugar (glucose) in the blood can cause a spike in insulin, which in turn can cause a spike in estrogen levels.
  • Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night - When your body is tired from lack of sleep, studies show, the hormone ghrelin is increased, which increases appetite and leptin, the hormone to help burn fat and decrease appetite, is suppressed, making over eating and weight gain more likely. This also reduces Human Growth Hormone in the body, a hormone responsible for helping burn fat and strengthen the immune system.
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Resources

The Hormone Cure: By Dr. Sara Gottfried, 2013
The Omega-3 Effect By Dr William Sears and Dr. James Sears, 2012
PDR For Nutritional Supplements by Sheldon Saul Hendler and David Rorvik, 2008
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Dr.Axe.com
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