Updated: May 11
Weight gain, mood swings, irritability, premenstrual symptoms, sore boobs, short menstrual cycles, long menstrual cycles, heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting, acne, low libido, fatigue, and even brain fog can be indicators of poor hormonal health in women.
Menopausal women may be unfortunate enough to experience hot flashes, night sweats, poor memory, thinning hair, dry skin and poor sleep with the natural decline of reproductive hormones.
These symptoms are so common, that they're almost viewed as normal. But it doesn't need to be that way.
A number of nutrients are required to regulate and balance hormones in women. Unfortunately it can be difficult to obtain adequate levels of these nutrients from diet alone.
There are also herbs that have been used for centuries to help balance hormones naturally and effectively.
Use of synthetic hormones, may increase your risk of certain cancers, so I feel addressing hormone imbalances naturally should always be the first approach.
Here are my top 10 nutrients, supplements, and essential oils that can aid hormonal health. Beginning with a few vital minerals we are commonly deficient in.
It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that about 30% of the world's population are zinc deficient! Zinc is anti-inflammatory, improves immunity, facilitates digestion, aids detoxification, regulates our stress response, and is needed for growth and repair. It is also essential for the production, transport and action of ALL hormones, including thyroid hormone. Plus it promotes healthy ovulation and progesterone levels. It has anti-androgen effects, without pushing testosterone levels below normal, which means it can be helpful for those with facial hair or female pattern hair loss.
Zinc is huge player in hormonal health. Zinc picolinate or citrate is my preferred form.
For more information on zinc deficiency, head on over to "Three key nutrients you're probably lacking & the devastating impact it can have on your health".
Magnesium is another key mineral many of us are lacking. This calming nutrient is dumped by the body when under stress, enabling the body to be fired up to respond to the stressful situation. In cave man days, when the stressful situation was a rare encounter with a lion, this was a vital tactic. However in the modern world, we are constantly bombarded with stressful situations and environmental toxins that deplete our magnesium levels.
Magnesium regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and stress response, it soothes the nervous system and aids sleep. Growing evidence suggests that magnesium deficiency may play an important role in PMS.
Its anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant properties make it beneficial for heavy periods and uterine cramping. It also acts as a diuretic to help with swollen breasts and abdomen. Magnesium plays a role in how oestrogen hormones are used or metabolized by the body. Poor detoxification in the liver due to low magnesium can result in high oestrogen levels, relative to progesterone.
Low magnesium levels are associated with insulin resistance, which is a factor in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Like zinc, blood tests for magnesium levels are largely inaccurate. Check out the "Three Key nutrients" article to discover the best way to investigate a deficiency and how to supplement. Daily supplementation of 300mg chelated magnesium like magnesium glycinate or citramate is recommended for most. Fortunately it is safe for long term use.
3. B Complex with active B vitamins
B vitamins are involved in energy production, detoxification, healthy blood cell and nerve function, and hundreds of enzyme reactions within the body.
Of particular note are the hormone and neurotransmitter regulators, vitamin B6 and B12. They have been found to be useful for PMS, heavy periods and (peri)menopausal symptoms. Along with methyl folate (vitamin B9) they help keep homocysteine levels in check, thereby having anti-inflammatory effects.
When supplementing, to make sure you get the most benefit, B vitamins need to be in their 'active' forms. This means that the body doesn’t need to chemically change these forms before it’s ready to use them.
So for vitamin B6, the active form is pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (P5P), not pyridoxine, the common form found in cheaper supplements. For B12 we recommend methyl or hydroxy - cobalamin forms, not cyano - cobalamin. And folate should never be given as synthetic folic acid as it is no where near as effective. Converting folic acid into dihydrofolate quickly and successfully is difficult to do in humans. Unmetabolized folic acid can in fact be harmful!