What vitamins are important for women’s hormones?
Women’s nutrient requirements vary greatly across our lives due to naturally occurring hormonal changes such as menstruation, fertility, pregnancy and the menopause. This delicate hormone balance can easily be thrown off by lifestyle, nutrition, stress and environmental toxins. Busy lifestyles and modern diets often mean nutrient balance weighs heavily in favour of high sugar, high fat, high carb foods with a low micronutrient content. For women, low levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, zinc, vitamins A, B6 & D are common, impacting energy metabolism, hormone regulation and immunity.
We can help to keep hormones balanced by avoiding processed foods and eating a diet that is nutrient dense. Protein is crucial, it forms the building blocks for our hormones and helps to keep blood sugar balanced - fatty fish and eggs are also a source of vitamin D and E, omega 3, B vits and zinc. Leafy greens contain key minerals and vitamin C, while whole grains provide fibre and B vits. Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kale are also very helpful in supporting the liver to detoxify excess hormones to maintain balance. As well as our diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are essential.
Chemicals and pesticides found in every-day items like packaging, cosmetics and household products are known as ‘endocrine disruptors’, this is because they can bind to hormone receptor sites and disrupt the body’s natural hormonal balance. We may also be exposed to environmental oestrogens from chemicals and plants which mimic the effect of the oestrogen and result in unnatural hormonal patterns.
When we are stressed we produce the hormone cortisol and any prolonged periods of stress, whether physical or mental can affect the balance of our hormones. High levels of stress encourage the adrenal glands to steal vital nutrients from the thyroid gland which is responsible for regulating many body systems. If compromised it may lead to poor memory, weight gain, lower immune function and affected ovarian function.
Birth control pills contain synthetic versions of progesterone and oestrogen and disrupt the normal production of female hormones.
What Vitamins are important for women’s health?
Vitamin D is a hormone and communicates with other hormones to help keep things in balance, as well as helping to manage blood sugar and regulate the production of insulin and thyroid hormones.
Vitamin B6 can be helpful in managing the symptoms of PMS, including mood changes and irritability by helping to synthesise some of the neurotransmitters that affect these feelings. Vitamin B3 can help with relaxation and sleep, B3 helps to relax muscle tissue, increase blood flow and reduced blood pressure. Niacin is associated with significantly reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Helps the body to absorb iron, which is an essential nutrient for women. It also plays an important role in liver detoxification, helping to break down excess oestrogen, it is also beneficial for the skin.
Vitamin E and the menopause
Vitamin E can help to alleviate the severity of common menopausal symptoms such as insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats and palpitations. Vitamin E may also reduce stress through its antioxidant properties.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and helpful for all hormonal imbalances due its’ role in balancing cortisol and blood sugar, whether that’s MS, PCOS, thyroid conditions, perimenopause, anxiety or adrenal fatigue.
Good health begins in the gut and it is also where many hormones are manufactured, including those linked to blood sugar balance. Probiotics have been found to increase our feel-good hormone serotonin and decrease cortisol.