“Eat your vegetables.”
I’m sure many remember that phrase from childhood, with our parents or grandparents often following up by emphasizing the importance of vitamins.
Unfortunately, I think some of that advice fell on deaf ears. I certainly didn’t feel compelled by the idea of carrots helping me to see in the dark — as a child, the main thing I wanted to do in the dark was hide from it!
But we can’t run from the truth any longer. Chronic inflammation driven by inflammatory lifestyles and poor diets is one of the leading causes of chronic disease. And for those of us with endometriosis, eating for health can make a dramatic difference to our quality of life and experience with the disease.
Today, I want to share some star vitamins that can help improve our menstrual cycles but also tackle endometriosis. Before I do, I want to emphasize that all vitamins are important, so this column isn’t only about focusing on these guys. But I hope this list encourages you to eat a wider variety of food to ensure you’re getting adequate levels of these vitamins.
Many of us struggle to get enough vitamin D. It’s found in eggs, red meat, and oily fish, and we also create it from sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency has been strongly linked to endometriosis. Research has shown that not only do low levels contribute to the development of the disease, but also its severity, and even the size of endometriomas, though this is now being debated.
Interestingly, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to various chronic pain conditions.
Many of us now suffer with vitamin D deficiency, especially in the winter months, so it’s worth getting your levels checked by your doctor and supplementing accordingly.
Vitamin E can be found in foods such as olives, olive oils, nuts, and seeds, and also in fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and avocados.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease. Oxidative stress has been shown to play a key role in the development and symptoms of endometriosis, and research has also found that women with endometriosis have lower levels of antioxidants, which counteract the damaging inflammatory oxidation process.
Vitamin E is a wonderful antioxidant that has been shown to significantly reduce pelvic pain, both during sex and during menstruation, in people with endometriosis.
Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, broccoli, peppers, and citrus fruits, to name a few.
In addition to vitamin E, vitamin C was the other antioxidant used in the study mentioned above, at a dose of 1,000 mg per day for two months.
Additionally, vitamin C can increase progesterone levels. Low levels of progesterone can cause cyclical migraines, fertility struggles, PMS, and low moods, among other symptoms. In fact, some of what we may think are endometriosis symptoms may actually be due to hormonal imbalances.
However, vitamin C supplementation can also raise estrogen levels. Because endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease, I would work with your doctor to check your hormone levels and ensure that high-dose supplementation is right for you.
Just to be clear, vitamin C is an essential nutrient that we all need, so don’t go cutting out foods rich in vitamin C because you’re worried about rising estrogen levels! This research was specifically with higher dose supplementation, and most multivitamin supplements only contain low levels, somewhere between 20 and 100 mg.
Vitamin B6 can be found in foods like beans, squash, bananas, and meat.
Many of the clients I see suffer with estrogen dominance, a hormonal imbalance that occurs when either estrogen is too high and therefore dominates progesterone, or progesterone is too low, creating an estrogen-dominant scenario, even if there isn’t an excessive amount of estrogen. Of course, you can also have high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone at the same time!
Vitamin B6 helps to clear excessive estrogen by supporting the liver to filter the hormone out of the body once it’s been used.
Vitamin B6 has also been found to raise progesterone levels, so again, it’s helpful if you have any signs of progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance, such as heavy periods or painful cramps.
The bottom line
Eating an array of healthy foods is a great way to ensure you’re supporting your body to fight endometriosis. But if you’re considering supplementation, make sure to check in with your doctor first.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.
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