hormones

  • Magnesium For Proven Stress Relief

    Magnesium is a Calming Mineral for Women’s Health and Wellbeing

    Magnesium is perhaps the most important mineral in the body and is crucial to Women’s health and wellbeing. It is also the most important nutrient for stress relief. A simple way of describing why we need Magnesium so much during, and after stress, is to consider that our bodies still have the same stress response as we did in Prehistoric times.  We obviously have much different stressors now though.  In the past if we were stressed, it was likely our life was in danger.  Now we might just be sitting in traffic or experiencing chronic daily stress over matters beyond our control. 

    When our life was in danger in the prehistoric times, our clever body’s wanted us to survive, so the best way to help us to respond to stress effectively (fight or flight – run for your life), was to dump our most calming mineral reserves – our precious reserves of magnesium. Our bodies are often entering fight or flight (aka sympathetic nervous system dominance) mode multiple times a day. When we are in fight or flight mode we are unable to enter rest and digest (parasympathetic nervous system) mode. We are chronically stressed and not taking the time to recover in between bouts.  Couple that with low levels of magnesium and other minerals in foods, due to low levels in the soil, and you have a recipe for deficiency.  To top it off, many of us do not have adequate gut function to absorb vitamins and minerals effectively.

    Symptoms of Deficiency

    Magnesium deficiency causes fatigue, anxiety, agitation, irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, vertigo, unrefreshed sleep, poor concentration, daytime sleepiness, cramps, twitches and shakes. Magnesium relaxes the whole nervous system.  As mentioned above it is lost rapidly during stress. Magnesium helps with depression and plays so many roles in the body. It is essential for Women’s health.

    Am I low?

    You won’t know if you are low in magnesium from standard blood tests as we store 25,000mg of magnesium in our body and only 1% of it is in the blood. Magnesium blood tests are also not commonly run by doctors unless specifically requested. The best way to assess if you are low in magnesium is to look at the symptoms above and consider how affected by stress you have been over the last few years.  If you are depleted you will need a supplement, food is ok to maintain levels if you have a very well balanced diet, but you will not reverse deficiency with food alone. I will also sometimes use an HTMA – Hair mineral tissue analysis to test mineral reserves and heavy metals in the body.

    Magnesium Supplements

    Not all magnesium supplements are the same. Yes magnesium is magnesium, but it is what the supplement producer’s bind the mineral to, that effects absorption.  Of course if you have any form of gut disorder your absorption will also be compromised. Some poor forms will cause gastric upset, and those forms are even marketed as laxative’s in different areas of the health store.  Also we have to consider what the capsule is made of, and whether fillers are added as some additives block absorption.

    Glycinate and Citrate are two of the better forms. If you have some of the more severe symptoms above, I would highly recommend working with me to look at all factors involved. I take a holistic and individual approach. I don’t just prescribe one magnesium supplement to everyone. Magnesium deficiency is only one of the possible nutrient deficiencies that you may have in some of the above conditions. In my practice I prescribe practitioner only forms of magnesium, some of which can cross the brain blood barrier rapidly, like Magnesium Threonate, so are really great for mental health support or when you need rapid, acute support.

    I would avoid buying the cheapest magnesium supplement you can find. For all of the reasons stated above. You are not really saving money if you are not absorbing the magnesium in the supplement.  The dose should be considered of course. In the case of deficiency I use researched therapeutic doses.

    This post may seem comprehensive, but I have barely even scratched the surface, that is how important magnesium is. I’ve talked about how it helps with PMS and perimenopause in the past, but it also helps many more conditions. So many of our body processes rely on magnesium and it is so important for both energy and sleep.

    Magnesium is only one of the minerals that you may need to restore your health.  If magnesium alone is not providing relief with any of the symptoms or conditions listed above, then it is a good time for a consultation with me so I can get to the root of the issue. As a Holistic Nutritionist I am an expert in mineral deficiencies and getting to the root of why they exist. Most of my clients are busy A type Women who are suffering the ill effects of stress. It is also very important to address lifestyle issues to help you reduce stress, and protect your precious reserves of magnesium.  Read more about working with me here.

    Read Blog

  • Zinc Deficiency – The signs and Solutions

    Along with magnesium Zinc is probably the mineral that I find most commonly deficient in Clients.  Severe zinc deficiency is rare but marginal zinc deficiency is very common.

    What are the benefits of zinc?

    • Zinc strengthens the immune system
    • Zinc fights inflammation
    • Zinc promotes wound healing
    • Zinc is important for skin health and aging
    • Zinc is really important for adequate stomach acid
    • Zinc helps keep your metabolism healthy
    • Zinc can help improve your sense of taste and smell
    • Zinc helps balance thyroid function
    • Zinc is important for hormone balance
    • Zinc is essential for fertility

    Signs of zinc deficiency:

    • Bleeding gums and gingivitis
    • Loss of appetite
    • Poor growth and fussiness in Children
    • Hair Loss
    • White spots on the nails
    • Poor sense of smell and taste
    • Symptoms of low stomach acid
    • In men – infertility and prostate enlargement
    • Night blindness
    • Acne
    • Poor wound healing
    • Poor immunity
    • Thyroid disease
    • Increased body odor
    • Hormonal imbalance

    Who is most at risk of deficiency?

    Pregnant Women and the Elderly are particularly susceptible to zinc deficiency.  Teenage boys tend to be another at risk group especially around age 13-14 which is the peak time of acne.  Zinc deficiency in pregnant Women is very common and statistics suggest 82% of  pregnant Women are considered zinc deficient.  This is due to the fact that they require almost triple the amount of the daily recommended amount of zinc for fetal growth.  Most of us are not getting enough zinc in our diets anyway, and the amount we require does not decrease as we age.  Vegetarians and Vegans are also at risk of deficiency as animal foods contain the highest levels of zinc.  Even if Vegetarians and Vegans increase their zinc rich plant based foods these foods are less bioavailable as they contain phytates which may bind to zinc and inhibit absorption.  If you are relying on plant based foods for nutrients you need to consider soaking, sprouting and fermenting to reduce phytate levels.

    If you have recently been unwell you are also at risk of zinc deficiency and when your health is not optimal your body becomes depleted easily.

    How much zinc do you need?

    All RDA’s differ but a general amount to prevent deficiency is – 8mg Women, 11mg Men, 3-5 mg Children, 25 mg Pregnant Women

    We should be aiming to get this from our diets.  If this is not possible a supplement is required.  Zinc supplements are generally at a maintenance dose at health stores, or at a higher dose (which is needed for anyone at risk of or with a deficiency) via Practitioners like myself.

    Zinc rich foods include – Meats, Seafood, Poultry, Dairy products, Whole grains and Nuts.

    Can you get too much zinc?

    Yes you do need to be cautious.  Minerals work in balance with one another.  Too much zinc could lead to imbalance in other minerals.  It is unlikely to occur from food, but be aware with supplements.  It is always best to work under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner like myself.  If you experience Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach pain, Fatigue or Lethargy when supplementing you should back off and consult a health professional.  If you experience slight nausea make sure you are taking it with a meal.

    How do you know if you are low in zinc?  Zinc is not routinely tested by GP’s in New Zealand and Australia.  You need to request the test from your doctor or lab, and in some cases you maybe asked to pay for it yourself.  I also offer Hair Mineral Analysis which gives you a very comprehensive look at all of your minerals, their ratios and also heavy metals that maybe present in your body.

    Some References:

    Read Blog

  • Hormone Testing-Why, When & How

    The Why, When and How of Testing your Hormones
    Why and When
    Testing takes out the guess work when it comes to hormones.  Since I started testing hormones, I have found that often the results are not what you would expect.  Natural treatment for hormonal dysfunction can be powerful and is quite specific.  It is important to get it right. 
    When we test sex hormones we do not just test on any given day.  We test mid luteal phase.  This is due to the fact that we only make progesterone during the days following ovulation. The 10-14 days before your period or your luteal phase. We want to see your progesterone levels when they are at their highest.  This is  halfway through your luteal phase or 5-7 days after ovulation and 5-7 days before your period.  This is easy if your cycles are regular.  For example if you have a 21 day cycle we would test on day 14, 28 day cycle we would test on day 21 and 35 day cycle we would test on day 28.  If your cycle is not regular then we would either test 5-7 days after ovulation or look into the DUTCH cycle mapping test below. 

    When we are testing cortisol and stress hormones, we want to look at the pattern throughout the day, not just a single sample. So before we even get started with testing your hormones it is a good idea to start tracking your cycle.  You can get a free Basal Body Temperature chart in my Free E-Book – Is it your thyroid by signing up to my email list here.  While the book is focused on thyroid conditions (these can also effect your cycle) the chart is handy and provides a lot of information including if you are ovulating and when.  Not everyone is going to be a candidate for hormone testing.  I generally do not do the tests below on any Women who is on hormonal birth control or post Menopausal, there are also some instances when we will get nutrition right before testing.  You can book a free call with me (10 mins) to chat to me about your situation or email me julie@nurturenutrition.co.nz to discuss.

    How
    Saliva Testing
    The benefits of saliva testing is that saliva represents the hormones that are actively delivered to the receptors in the body, rather then free hormones in the serum (blood).  Steroid hormones detected in the serum are bound to proteins and in this state they are unable to fit into receptors in the body, and will not be delivered to tissues.  They reflect the current reserves of hormones, rather then the current active hormones.  Cortisol can also not be accurately measured in serum.

    I offer saliva hormone testing which is a simple and non invasive test, easily performed in the comfort of your own home.  Saliva testing generally requires you to spit into a test tube first thing in the morning and freeze until you are ready to send back to my supplier who sends it on to the lab in the US (Labrix).  Labrix only requires 1 ml of saliva per sample. There are also options for testing throughout the day (cortisol patterns).  Saliva testing is very cost effective (from a functional testing perspective) prices range from around  $25.00 for a single hormone up to around $180 for a full comprehensive panel testing 3 different estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol x 4 (4 samples at different times of the day/night).

    DUTCH test
    DUTCH is an acronym for Dried, Urine, Test for Comprehensive Hormones.  This is another test that I offer and the most comprehensive.  There are a few different versions of the DUTCH test available, all are provided by Precision Analytical in the states.  DUTCH is regarded by practitioners as the most advanced test for sex and adrenal hormones.  The samples are easy to collect in the comfort of your own home (4 dried urine samples collected on filter paper).

    The test is so comprehensive as not only are hormone levels measured, but their metabolites.  The absolute level of your hormones matter – but what can matter more is what your body does with those hormones i.e how they are being metabolised.  Does your body turn testosterone into nasty acne-promoting 5a-DHT? Does your body turn estradiol into DNA damaging 4-OH estrone? Are you healthfully metabolising and eliminating estrogen from your body? The DUTCH test can tell you.

    It is a simple test to complete, but gives unrivaled information.  By having this information, we can get very specific with treatment and get results much quicker.  The tests provide info on hormone levels, metabolism of cortisol, metabolism of progesterone, testosterone and estrogen.  The dinural pattern of free cortisol.  Like the saliva test the DUTCH test gives us not only the total levels of cortisol and cortisone, but also the curve – how those levels change over the day. This is some valuable information for people who are struggling with stress, fatigue, anxiety, decreased libido, trouble sleeping and insomnia. The DUTCH test also looks at melatonin.  

    The options include – DUTCH complete ,DUTCH adrenal, DUTCH cycle mapping and cycle mapping plus.

    The prices for DUTCH testing ranges from around $209 to $555.00.  The best way to know what test will be best for you is to have a full consultation.  During the consultation I can look at all of the factors contributing to your presenting complaint and make recommendations.  Not only will you get a recommendation on what test will be best, you will also get a full holistic treatment plan and supporting information to get you started on your way to balanced menstrual cycles.  You will receive a prescription for any practitioner only supplements needed to get you results faster. 

    It takes 100 days to really see results with hormonal dysfunction.  This is due to the fact that it takes 100 days for ovarian follicles (eggs) to journey all the way to maturity and for you to ovulate.  Please bear this in mind when working toward hormonal balance.  It will take 100 days of being healthy and fully nourished to achieve healthy ovulation and consequently healthy hormonal levels.

    Read Blog