Not everyone struggles with hormonal issues, but plenty of women experience their share of hormonal ups and downs. Stress problems, depression, anxiety, severe PMS, and menopause symptoms can be the result of hormonal imbalances.
But the good news is that natural health supplements, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can help balance your hormones. By the same token, correcting hormone imbalances can make a huge difference in your health, wellness, and quality of life.
In this article, you’ll learn about the most effective supplements for correcting hormonal imbalances in women as well as how to use them to balance your hormones.
How Hormones Affect Your Health
Your endocrine system is a network of hormone-producing glands in your body. It includes your hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal glands, ovaries, pancreas, thymus, and thyroid gland.
Hormones are specialized chemicals that carry messages from the endocrine glands where they’re produced to organs and cells throughout your body. Cortisol, adrenaline, estrogen, testosterone, insulin, glucagon, T4, and T3 are examples of hormones.
These hormones control your appetite, blood sugar, energy levels, stress response, sleep schedule, sex drive, sexual function, and fertility. In fact, hormones influence nearly every bodily function — from digestion and fat-burning to mood and cognition.
Hormones affect specific organs and cells in your body, but they also affect one another. Because your body and its relationship with hormones is complex, a small imbalance can adversely impact your health. Therefore, learning to recognize the signs of hormone imbalances can help ensure you stay healthy.
Signs of Hormone Imbalance
Here’s a list of signs and symptoms that point to hormone imbalances for women:
- Sleep issues
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Reliance on caffeine to get through the day
- Poor memory or concentration
- Mood problems (irritability, depression, or anxiety)
- Appetite changes
- Weight gain or loss
- Sugar or carbohydrate cravings
- Becoming “hangry”
- Temperature sensitivity
- Facial hair
- Low or erratic sex drive
- Bloating or water retention
- Enlarged or tender breasts
- Aches and pains
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Heavy or prolonged bleeding
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
If more than a couple of these items ring a bell, you may have problems resulting from a hormone imbalance. However, you can fix your hormone levels and reduce the symptoms of hormone imbalances. You don’t have to live with tiredness, mood issues, or low libido.
Every hormone imbalance is slightly different–therefore, you should experiment with lifestyle changes, including health supplements, to see what works best for your situation.
11 Supplements for Balancing Your Hormones
#1: DIM for Healthy Estrogen Metabolism
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a phytochemical compound derived from the digestion of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Following the consumption of cruciferous vegetables, a precursor called indole-3-carbinol breaks down into DIM during digestion.
DIM supports the breakdown of estrogen into healthy metabolites in your liver. It also inhibits aromatase, the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen. Additionally, DIM partially blocks the effect of testosterone and other androgens.
Diindolylmethane supports cellular detoxification pathways and has “demonstrated chemopreventive activity during all stages of breast carcinogenesis”.
Animal safety studies show that even a dose of DIM ten times greater than therapeutic doses is not dangerous.
In summary, DIM can help you balance your hormones by raising good estrogen levels, lowering bad estrogen levels, and blocking hormones like testosterone.
How to Take DIM
DIM-Evail by Designs for Health is an excellent choice if you want to try DIM. Each soft gel capsule provides 100 milligrams of DIM made with non-GMO ingredients. Begin with one capsule daily, taken before meals.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t take DIM. There isn’t enough data to guarantee it’s safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
#2: Vitex Agnus-Castus for PMS and Infertility
Vitex agnus-castus, also known as vitex, chasteberry, chaste tree, or monk’s pepper, is a tree that is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. The plant was mentioned over 2000 years ago by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus, who believed it had anti-aphrodisiac properties. However, no current evidence of anti-aphrodisiac properties exists.
Research of vitex shows that it may work in part by enhancing the function of the neurotransmitter dopamine. However, its other mechanisms of action are not well understood at this time.
Chasteberry supplements can help ease PMS symptoms, alleviate pain associated with women’s menstrual cycles, improve mood, and contribute to the treatment of infertility in both men and women.
Supplements containing vitex may help with oxidative stress, deficiencies of female hormones, and other symptoms associated with aging.
Side-effects from vitex agnus-castus are rare, mild, and reversible. The most common adverse effects reported were nausea, headache, upset stomach, menstrual disorders, acne, itching, and rash.
How to Take Vitex Agnus-Castus
Positive results observed in studies occurred with doses of 40-1800 milligrams per day, or 4-40 milligrams of standardized vitex extract. If you want to try vitex agnus-castus, you should start with a low dose and work your way up.
If you are pregnant, avoid vitex during pregnancy and breastfeeding. There isn’t enough evidence to prove vitex is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
#3: Maca for Sexual Function and Balancing Hormones
Maca root (Lepidium meyenii), sometimes called Peruvian ginseng, is an edible herbaceous plant from the highlands of Peru. Maca grows at elevations of 14,000 to 16,000 feet. It is consumed fresh, cooked as a root vegetable, and ground into a flour for making bread or for use as a supplement.
For early postmenopausal women, maca can increase bone density, improve the hormonal processes of the reproductive axis, balance hormone levels, relieve symptoms of menopausal discomfort (such as hot flashes and night sweats), and reduce dependence on hormone replacement therapies (HRT).
Maca can also reduce blood pressure and improve symptoms of depression in postmenopausal women.
In female rats, maca root enhances serum levels of luteinizing hormone, which supports the traditional use of maca for fertility.
In a study of 175 participants, 3 grams per day of red or black maca resulted in a better mood, energy, health status, and reduced symptoms from mountain sickness. Maca can also reduce anxiety.
A study of nine men given 1500 to 3000 milligrams of maca root daily for four months found that the treatment increased their seminal volume, sperm count, motile sperm count, and sperm motility, but did not alter their hormone levels.
Additionally, in a separate study of men given 1500 to 3000 milligrams of maca root daily for three months, their libido increased at the two- and three-month mark.
How to Take Maca Root
The standard dosage of maca root is about 1500-3000 milligrams per day.
#4: Probiotics for Mood and Gut Health
Probiotics, also called good bacteria, are naturally-occurring bacteria that populate your digestive tract. Collectively, the bacteria in your gut comprise your microbiome. The health of your microbiome affects your metabolism, digestion, and neurotransmitter production.
Poor diet, inflammation, and the use of antibiotics can wipe out the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome. To repopulate your gut with probiotic bacteria, you can eat an anti-inflammatory diet, avoid antibiotic use whenever possible, and take probiotic supplements.
Because probiotic bacteria help your body produce serotonin and other neurotransmitters, probiotic supplements can be helpful for people with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
If you have an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria, taking probiotics can help reverse the problem. Research shows that taking probiotics during H. pylori eradication reduces adverse events and symptoms .
In healthy elderly adults, short-term probiotic supplementation can enhance immune function.
How to Take Probiotics
For best results, take probiotic supplements with meals. When you are selecting a probiotic supplement, choose one with a diverse range of bacteria, a high number of colony-forming units (CFUs), and also be sure that it’s either been refrigerated or is guaranteed to be stable at room temperature.
#5: Ascorbic Acid for Immune Function and Inflammation
Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C) is a vitamin, essential nutrient, and antioxidant involved in tissue repair and enzymatic production of neurotransmitters. It is also required for immune function.
Ascorbic acid supplementation can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels. Supplements containing ascorbic acid can also improve immune function, reduce oxidative stress, and lower inflammation in your body.
In postmenopausal women deficient in estrogen, ascorbic acid can help restore left ventricular function.
Ascorbic acid could potentially help reduce inflammation in periodontal disease, particularly in the elderly. Supplements containing vitamin C may also help reverse motor and cognitive impairments in dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Sufficient intake of ascorbic acid reduces all-cause mortality by 20%, and lowers cancer risk in men.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Deficiencies of ascorbic acid are more likely to occur during periods of high stress because vitamin C is involved in the production of cortisol. During pregnancy, women should take care to consume sufficient ascorbic acid to prevent deficiencies.
How to Take Vitamin C
The current recommended daily allowance for ascorbic acid for adult men and women is 60 milligrams per day, based on a requirement of at least 46 milligrams per day to prevent scurvy. However, higher doses of a gram or more per day of ascorbic acid are well-tolerated, and studies show these higher doses have greater benefits.
#6: Magnesium and Vitamin B6 for Stress Management
Magnesium is a chemical element and essential mineral with the symbol Mg, while vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and part of the vitamin B group of essential nutrients. Over 300 enzymes require magnesium, and it is used in many more physiological processes. Vitamin B6 is involved in energy production; over a hundred enzymes reactions for amino acid, glucose, and lipid metabolism require B6 as a coenzyme.
Taken together, magnesium and vitamin B6 can reduce stress and anxiety and improve severe PMS symptoms. Additionally, magnesium paired with vitamin B6 is more effective to reduce severe stress than magnesium alone.
Even with a healthy diet, some people do not get enough magnesium from food. Magnesium deficiency can result in high blood pressure, poor sleep, and irregular heartbeat.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include microcytic anemia, EEG anomalies, dermatitis with cheilosis, depression, confusion, and weak immune function. People with impaired kidney function, autoimmune disorders, or alcohol dependence are most at risk of B6 deficiency.
How to Take Magnesium
The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 310-420 milligrams, but studies have found positive effects with daily doses up to 2500 milligrams. The RDA for B6 for adults is 1.3-2 milligrams per day.
#7: Zinc for Mood and Stress Resilience
Zinc is a chemical element and essential mineral with the symbol Zn. Zinc is required in your body for the function or production of over 300 enzymes as well as 1000 or more transcription factors. It is the second most abundant trace metal in humans next to iron.
For premenopausal women, zinc can enhance brain function and emotional status.
In humans, low levels of zinc can originate from poor diet but also from aging and factors like disease. Being vegetarian may also increase your risk of zinc deficiency. If you’re pregnant, be sure to consume adequate levels of zinc in your diet or via supplements.
How to Take Zinc
The recommended daily allowance for zinc is 8 milligrams for women, and 11 milligrams for men. If you choose to take zinc, be sure to select the appropriate dose for your age and bodyweight. Too much zinc can increase your risk of heart problems.
#8: Copper for Depression and Bone Health
Copper is a chemical element and essential mineral with the symbol Cu. It plays diverse roles in biological electron transport as well as the transportation of oxygen. Your body also uses copper to make the antioxidant superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase prevents cell damage in your body that would otherwise be caused by free radicals.
Copper supplements can also reverse heart enlargement caused by pressure overload .
Deficiencies of copper can produce symptoms similar to anemia including bone abnormalities, impaired growth, infection, osteoporosis, and disrupted glucose and cholesterol metabolism. Copper deficiency may also lead to heart disease.
People who take zinc supplements should consider taking copper supplements to prevent copper deficiency.
Excess alcohol consumption may result in copper deficiency.
How to Take Copper
The recommended daily allowance of copper for adult men and women is 900 micrograms per day, but the median intake of copper from food is approximately 1 to 1.6 milligrams daily. The tolerable upper limit for adults is ten milligrams per day[67.
#9: Calcium for Bone Health
Calcium is a chemical element and essential mineral with the symbol Ca. As women age and their sex hormone levels decrease, the risk of osteoporosis and other disorders and issues associated with bone loss increases.
Calcium supplements can help prevent bone loss and improve your bone density. As you age, supplementing with calcium (along with getting plenty of sun exposure for vitamin D production) can also reduce your risk of fractures from falling or other accidents.
How to Take Calcium
According to the recommended daily allowance in the United States, adults aged 19-50 years need a gram of calcium per day, while women over 50 and men over the age of 70 should consume 1200 milligrams daily.
Taking calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart disease for some people, so if you’re unsure whether to take calcium, you should discuss this issue with your doctor.
#10 Glycine for Sleep and Anxiety
Glycine is a nonessential amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter found in your central nervous system. It is a colorless, sweet-tasting crystalline solid.
Taking glycine before bedtime can improve subjective and objective sleep quality in people who struggle with insomnia. Glycine before bed reduces next-morning fatigue, enhances sleep satisfaction, increases sleep efficiency, and reduces the difficulty of sleep onset. It also reduces core body temperature, which may partially explain the sleep benefits of glycine supplementation[repeat last].
Supplemental glycine may also increase health and well-being by reducing or reversing symptoms of metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
In rats, oral administration of glycine increases serotonin levels in the prefrontal cortex.
Glycine supplementation can help treat schizophrenia symptoms in as little as two weeks.
When glycine levels in your body are low, your body may make less glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that is vital for your body’s proper functioning. Boosting cellular glutathione levels by obtaining more glycine through diet and supplements may help prevent and treat disorders caused by oxidative stress.
How to Take Glycine
To improve sleep, take three grams of glycine orally before bed. Holding it under your tongue for sublingual administration may enhance absorption compared to taking it orally.
In studies, higher doses of 9-31 grams of glycine per day had no adverse effects. Therefore, you may consider increasing your glycine dose if necessary for better sleep.
#11 Gymnema Sylvestre for Blood Sugar and Cravings
Gymnema sylvestre is a hardy woody shrub. It grows in the wild and is also cultivated commercially for valuable medicinal and pharmaceutical uses. Humans have used Gymnema sylvestre for thousands of years.
Saponins, gymnemic acids, and other chemicals in Gymnema can lower blood sugar levels in several different ways. The plant increases insulin secretion, helps regenerate islet cells, increases glucose metabolism, and blocks sugars from absorbing in your small intestine.
One constituent of Gymnema called gurmarin prevents taste buds on your tongue from detecting sweet flavors.
Gymnema is an excellent supplement choice if you have insulin resistance, high blood sugar, or cravings for sweets.
How to Take Gymnema
But if you have a sweet tooth and want to prevent sugar cravings, then a tea is the most effective method to take Gymnema. To make tea, add a quarter cup of leaves to a quart of boiling water and steep it for ten minutes. The effects last for 30-60 minutes.
Talk to your doctor before using Gymnema if you have diabetes, because it may cause hypoglycemia if taken along with insulin, metformin, or other diabetic drugs.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, steer clear of Gymnema sylvestre.
Your hormones affect your overall health in significant ways. Stress, mood, libido, PMS, and the severity of menopausal symptoms can all influenced by your hormone levels.
Your endocrine system is complex, but you can use natural supplements and other lifestyle changes to improve your hormonal health. However, if you are suffering from severe hormone imbalance symptoms, you should speak to an endocrinologist or other trusted healthcare practitioner.
The benefits of balancing your hormones include reduced cravings, better blood sugar levels, greater energy, less stress, and improved fertility.