Whether you want to conceive, lose weight or tame your PMS, progesterone is your new best friend. Today’s environment has an influx of oestrogen or oestrogen mimicking molecules in our environment, but there isn’t much to support its antagonist progesterone.
What Does Progesterone Do?
Being a precursor as well as an end-hormone progesterone has many roles in the body, more so than most steroid hormones. Where oestrogen promotes weight gain, progesterone increases fat metabolism. Progesterone makes the main stress hormone cortisol. It also has a big job protecting the strength of your nervous system. Being the antagonist to oestrogen, progesterone has an important role in preventing breast and ovarian cancer.
Signs of low progesterone
- Weight gain
- Stress, anxiety, neurosis
- Infertility or miscarriages
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Adrenal fatigue
- Foggy brain, impaired memory
- Slow thyroid
- Sleep disorders
- Mood swings
- Post-natal depression
- Water retention
- Thinning hair
Vitamin C has been found in high concentrations in the ovaries and is essential for hormone production and regulation. It is absorbed into the ovaries in large amounts just before ovulation and used to stimulate the production of progesterone. It also helps with hormone processing and elimination of excess. A study has shown that 750mg of whole food Vitamin C taken every day for six months can considerably increase the progesterone production.
Sources: Broccoli, leafy greens, berries and citrus fruits. Vitamin C needs co-factors like rutin and bioflavonoids that are all naturally present in whole food sources such as camu camu powder, acerola cherry powder and acai berry powder.
Vitamin B6 is what helps your body to maintain adequate levels of progesterone and not getting enough may stifle your progesterone production levels. B6 is essential to forming a good corpus luteum, which is your big progesterone producer found within the ovaries. B6 is also used in the important task of breaking down oestrogen within the liver.
Sources: Organic poultry, bananas, spinach, potatoes, beans, walnuts, seafood.
Several studies have shown that women who take vitamin E see a significant increase in overall progesterone levels. Researchers described vitamin E as the ‘progesterone-sparing agent,’ as it protects progesterone against the toxic effects of oestrogen. Many of the events involved in inflammation are increased by oestrogen, and decreased by vitamin E. Oestrogen causes capillaries to become leaky; vitamin E does the opposite. Oestrogen increases blood clotting; vitamin E does the opposite. Oestrogen increases progstaglandin synthesis, vitamin E decreases their synthesis.
Sources: Sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds.
Zinc is found in the pituitary gland and ovaries. Zinc is the mineral that prompts the pituitary gland to release follicular stimulating hormones, which in turn promotes ovulation, which stimulates the ovaries to produce progesterone. Zinc is the most widely studied nutrient in relation to fertility in both men and women. Zinc deficiency can cause chromosome changes in either you or our partner, leading to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is also necessary for your body to be able to use available progesterone.
Sources: shellfish, pumpkin, chickpeas, dark chocolate, veal liver, lean red meats.
An essential mineral, magnesium has been found to regulate the pituitary gland, which in turn regulates the production of the hormones FSH (follicular stimulating) LH (luteinizing) and TSH (thyroid stimulating) that in turn regulate the production of progesterone. Magnesium is also important for the break down of oestrogen.
Sources: Dark green leafy vegetables, black beans, spinach, halibut, pumpkin, squash seeds, nuts.
Once wrongly accused of increasing cholesterol levels coconut oil is now actually being used in the treatment of a variety of disorders including weight loss, insulin resistance and cholesterol issues. Coconut oils medium-chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats, but are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy, more like carbohydrates.
Coconut oil can help convert cholesterol into pregnenolone, which in turn makes progesterone. A couple of tablespoons a day can provide a large dose of lauric acid to nourish build the hormonal and immune system.
Sources: Untreated, unprocessed, raw virgin coconut oil.
I3C is a naturally occurring compound derived from cruciferous vegetables that actively promotes the breakdown of oestrogen to the beneficial metabolite, 2-OH, preventing a build up of unhealthy oestrogens. Therefore, I3C is protective of oestrogen-sensitive tissues and progesterone balance, and may be beneficial to those with health issues related to oestrogen dominance.
Sources: Broccoli sprouts, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage.
The B vitamins, such as B6, B12 and folate, function as important cofactors for enzymes involved in the break down of oestrogen within the liver. Therefore, decreased levels of B vitamins can lead to increased levels of circulating oestrogens, which can overpower progesterone. B vitamins also play a role in the prevention of cancer because they are crucial for DNA synthesis and repair as well as the process of DNA methylation.
Sources: Liver, dried beans, legumes, fish, red meat, poultry, organic dairy, eggs, spinach, kale, almonds, wild rice, brussels sprouts, spinach, green vegetables, avocados.
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid needed for many tasks in the body, brain and hormonal system. It’s anti-inflammatory actions help keep the ovaries happy. Omega 3 helps to regulate the brain, nervous system and steroid hormones. Plus it transports toxic or old fats to the liver to be processed. Breast cancer cells exposed to Omega 3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) promote oestrogen detoxification down the correct pathway.
Sources: Dark fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel), grass fed butter, egg yolk (organic), walnuts, avocados, chia and hemp seeds. Plant sources are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and still need to be converted to EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms of omega 3. Less than 7% can convert to EPA and less than 4% can convert to DHA. Plus some people are unable to convert plant sources at all.