Women and men can suffer from an imbalance of hormones that affects weight, health and emotional status. Women are known for premenstrual, menstrual and menopausal shifts that can cause irritability, cravings and low energy. Men may experience low testosterone levels in their 50s, which can cause overall lethargy, hair loss and weight gain. Diabetes and thyroid disorders affect both sexes and are due to the disruption of essential hormones that regulate daily blood sugar levels and essential body functions.
While many of these hormone irregularities should be discussed with your health care provider, since you may require medical intervention, certain vitamins may help balance out hormone production in your body. Consult with a physician before adding any supplements to ensure they are right for you.
Why Imbalances Occur
Hormone imbalances occur due to the natural aging process but can also be due to factors in the environment, the food you eat, stress and some medications. Meat, plastics, cleaning and beauty products and pollution are rife with hormone disrupters. A diet rich in sugar and other simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, and low in fresh vegetables and fruits denies your body the nutrients it needs for hormone stability. Certain medical conditions can also cause your body's hormones to go haywire.
Vitamin D, sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, may play a role in regulating insulin and thyroid hormone, which has implications for diabetes and thyroid disorder. A study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences in 2013 found that vitamin D levels were significantly lower in hypothyroid patients than in controls. This suggests that vitamin D plays a role in thyroid dysfunction.
In addition, vitamin D may help with the regulation of insulin secretion and balances blood sugar. As reported in a study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology in 2010, vitamin D deficiency is associated with insulin resistance, a precursor to type-2 diabetes.
Optimal levels of vitamin D may also help men with low testosterone levels. The vitamin boosts testosterone, strengthens sperm cells and may increase libido.
Talk to your doctor about testing your vitamin D levels and potentially taking a supplement. Food sources of vitamin D include salmon, fortified milks and fortified juices. Regular exposure to sunlight encourages your body to manufacture vitamin D, too.
B-6 and PMS
Vitamin B-6, also known as pyridoxine, may help with mood swings during premenstrual syndrome. A review of studies published in 2005 in BMJ determined that doses of about 100 milligrams per day are effective in warding off the depression and other symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, including moodiness, irritability, forgetfulness, bloating and anxiety. Vitamin B-6 is available in chickpeas, beef liver, fish and poultry as well as fortified grains. Too much B-6, between 1 and 6 grams per day for over a year, can cause serious nerve damage.
Increasing your intake of certain vitamins can help balance hormones, but other measures should be taken as well for the best results. Reduce stress, by reducing your obligations, delegating work or adopting practices such as yoga and meditation. Stick to a diet consisting of whole foods that emphasizes colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while steering clear of added sugars and simple carbohydrates, including white bread and rice. Get ample sleep per night, and exercise regularly to keep your body healthy.
- Body+Soul: Natural Ways to Balance Hormones
- Amazing Wellness: Hormone Balance
- Dr. Mark Hyman: The UltraMind Solution: Key #2 Balance Your Hormones
- BMJ: Efficacy of Vitamin B6 in the Treatment of PreMenstrual Syndrome: A Systematic Review
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B6
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- International Journal of Health Sciences: Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Association With Thyroid Disease
- International Journal of Endocrinology: Role of Vitamin D in Insulin Secretion and Insulin Sensitivity for Glucose Homeostasis
- Mercola: 9 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone