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Managing the impact of oestrogen containing medications on essential nutrients

Magdalena Marvell explores the common nutrients and their significance in maintaining overall wellbeing.

In the United Kingdom, millions of women rely on oestrogen-containing medications like the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
 
While these medications serve crucial purposes, from preventing unwanted pregnancies to alleviating menopausal symptoms, it is important to be aware of their potential impact on essential nutrients. In this article, we explore the common nutrients that may be impacted by oestrogen-containing medicines and their significance in maintaining overall wellbeing.
 
Understanding Nutrient Depletion:
Iodine: Oestrogen-containing medications often feature synthetic forms of oestrogen that may affect cellular iodine uptake. Iodine is vital for fertility, thyroid hormone production, immune function, and supporting liver detoxification. 
 
Magnesium: An essential mineral frequently lacking in Western diets, magnesium is depleted by fast-paced lifestyles and may be further affected by oestrogen-containing medications. With involvement in over 300 metabolic pathways, magnesium deficiency can lead to issues like chronic pain, cramps, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
 
Manganese: Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption, impacting enzyme functioning, nutrient absorption, wound healing, antioxidant function, and bone development.
 
Zinc: Another essential mineral susceptible to depletion, low zinc levels associated with oestrogen-containing medications can lead to weight gain, hypothyroidism, chronic diarrhoea, compromised immune function, and reduced libido.
 
B Complex Vitamins & Folate: Both HRT and oestrogen-containing oral contraceptives can affect B complex vitamins and folate levels. Deficiencies in these nutrients may manifest as symptoms ranging from fatigue and depression to headaches, nausea, numbness, and even weight gain.
 
Vitamin C: HRT and contraceptive pills may deplete Vitamin C, a water-soluble nutrient crucial for the immune system, collagen formation, antioxidant activity, and iron utilisation
 
Nourishing Strategies
Invest in a high-quality daily multivitamin and mineral supplement featuring essential nutrients such as iodine, magnesium, manganese, zinc, B complex vitamins (including the 5-MTHF form of folic acid), and vitamin C. This ensures comprehensive support for your body’s nutritional needs.
 
Di-indolylmethane (DIM): Derived from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, DIM is a natural substance that aids in the safe metabolism of oestrogen. Especially important when taking oestrogen-containing medications, DIM supports the body’s ability to metabolise and eliminate hormones, contributing to a healthier hormonal balance1.
 
Calcium-d-glucarate: This natural compound plays a role in supporting a balanced oestrogen level in the body. Calcium-D-glucarate represents the calcium salt derived from D-glucaric acid, a compound naturally produced in minimal quantities by mammals, including humans.
 
Rich sources of glucaric acid include various fruits and vegetables, with oranges, apples, grapefruit, and cruciferous vegetables boasting the highest concentrations2.
 
Maintain a daily dose of high-quality beneficial bacteria to foster a healthy gut microbiome. A thriving gut microbiome contributes to a balanced oestrogen level. Opt for an or organic diet rich in whole-foods, emphasising colourful fruits and vegetables, fibre, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and phytoestrogen-rich foods such as miso and tempeh. 
 
Include fermented foods and drinks like kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut to further enhance microbial diversity.
 
Bloating is a common side effect of HRT and can be a result of taking oestrogen or progestogen. Foods with a bitter taste have the remarkable ability to activate your digestive juices and prompt the secretion of bile, ultimately enhancing the digestive process and reducing bloating. 
 
Enhance your main meal by incorporating a variety of the following bitter herbs and foods: fennel, endive, chicory, dandelion, rocket, ginger, dill, kale, bitter melon, olive leaf and artichokes. If the taste of bitter foods doesn’t appeal to you, consider incorporating a bitter supplement at the start of your main meals3/4.
 
Stay hydrated with fresh, filtered water and minimise plastic usage whenever possible. Plastic’s oestrogen-like properties categorise it as a hormone disruptor, akin to numerous other chemicals found in plastics. Hormone disruptors have the potential to interfere with the normal functioning of oestrogen and other hormones in the body, either by blocking or mimicking them. This disruption can lead to an imbalance in the body’s hormonal regulation5.
 
• Actively manage stress by incorporating self-care practices into your routine. Cortisol (stress hormone) can negatively impact your digestive system and impact the 
production of oestrogen and progesterone6.
• Pay attention to your sleep hygiene, ensuring quality rest.
 
Being mindful of the impact of oestrogen-containing medications on essential nutrients empowers individuals to take proactive steps in maintaining a balanced and nourished body. 
 
By addressing potential depletions and adopting a holistic approach to nutrition, individuals can support their overall wellbeing while benefiting from the therapeutic effects of these medications.
 
References
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