It’s no secret the body craves a wealth of nutrients on a daily basis. In actual fact, the body needs a whopping 45, including water! And women have their own particular needs when it comes to hormone health. Clearly, that’s not easy to achieve everyday which is why a balanced and colourful diet, with supplements, is key for all-round good health and, most importantly, balanced hormones.
Whilst vitamin B6 is fairly widely available in foods including beef, poultry, fish, wholegrains, nuts, beans and bananas, many women can still benefit from a top-up. Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of haemoglobin which is the protein in the blood that carries oxygen around; a pretty fundamental body requirement. However, it’s also really key in the production of a range of hormones, particularly relating to mood.
Most importantly for women is the hormone-balancing effect of vitamin B6. Many women have found huge relief from unpleasant symptoms of PMS, particularly breast tenderness and mood swings, by upping their intake. And for those ladies trying to conceive, vitamin B6 helps produce progesterone needed for the corpus luteum (the early stage of pregnancy) and for pregnancy to be maintained.
Plus, it’s water-soluble so is quickly excreted from the body: even more reason it’s needed on a daily basis.
It’s affectionately known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because the sun is our best source, but you’ll certainly not be shining without it! Many of the reasons why people (and especially ladies) feel low in the winter months is due to a lack of vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D can certainly upset all-round hormone balance.
However, it’s absolutely key for healthy bones and this becomes even more important for women as they approach menopause and beyond. However, peak bone density is reached at around 25 years of age, therefore girls really need to be mindful in their early years in order to prevent future problems. If good bones aren’t built in younger years, they’re only going to deteriorate as we get older.
During the winter months, we certainly can’t get enough vitamin D from the sun and food sources (oily fish, eggs, cheese, dairy and fortified foods) contain limited amounts. A daily supplement containing a minimum of 10 micrograms is, therefore, essential. Plus, if you struggle with poor fat absorption (maybe due to having a gall bladder removed), then you’re certainly going to need more, since vitamin D is fat-soluble.
They’re not termed ‘essential’ for nothing! The body can’t make omega-3 fats so they need to be eaten very regularly. This may not be good news for ladies who don’t like oily fish as this is the best source. However, supplements are readily available, plus flaxseeds, chia seeds, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds are all good sources.
Omega-3s are crucial for balancing hormones. Additionally, as they have a potent anti-inflammatory action they can really help in cases of heavy and painful periods, fibroids, endometriosis and PMS. So stock up on salmon (wild if possible), sardines, mackerel or vegetarian sources of omega-3s, to keep all hormones in good balance.
This is probably the ‘go-to’ mineral for women to keep your hormone health on track! Whilst it’s key to overall health for both men and women due to its role in around 300 different enzyme reactions, having sufficient zinc is essential for women too.
Zinc has a potent anti-inflammatory effect so it can really help ease period cramps. Plus, it’s essential for healthy egg production and regulating monthly cycles. Furthermore, for ladies suffering from PCOS, zinc helps dampen down one of the enzymes that indirectly encourages the unwanted hair-promoting hormone; one unpleasant side effect of PCOS.
For ladies struggling with skin problems, particularly acne, zinc helps to kill bacteria that promotes spots. Good food sources are oysters and shellfish, red meat, poultry, nuts and beans.
The mineral magnesium, works in a triad with vitamin B6 and zinc in keeping women balanced hormonally. All these nutrients play key roles in women’s health, sas but they work particularly well as a team!
Another very busy mineral, magnesium is involved in many different enzyme reactions in the body. It’s especially helpful in cases of period cramps, PMS and hot flushes; it works for women whatever their age. Importantly, it can help to relieve stress because it dampens down the production of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. Interestingly, magnesium is quickly depleted during times of stress, so more is needed.
Eating a rainbow diet (dark green leafy vegetables are rich sources of magnesium), will keep the body topped up with this very essential mineral.
Five of the best for top hormone health!