There are a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to perform at its best, but some are extra valuable when it comes to hormone health. Magnesium, B Vitamins, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 fats all contribute to keeping your cycle regular and your hormones balanced — which is how your body wants to function in the first place. Your body craves a state of homeostasis, but when you aren’t giving it the proper nutrients it needs, it can’t achieve that balance.
That’s where hormonal imbalances start to run amok, often leaving you with fatigue, brain fog, PMS symptoms, and weight gain. These nutrients are key to ensuring your body stays in a state of balance, and most can easily be found in a healthy, plant-based diet. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) often doesn’t cut it when it comes to getting enough of these nutrients, but with a little intention, you can avoid these nutritional deficiencies and help your hormone health along the way.
Here we’ll break down why these four nutrients are so important to hormonal health, and how you can increase your intake through whole food consumption:
- Magnesium - Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps with regulating your cortisol levels, aka your stress hormones, by helping you relax.¹ It also plays a role in supporting thyroid function, your hormone production center, and supports quality sleep. All of these play a key role in maintaining or gaining a healthy menstrual cycle.
While supplements can be useful, there are plenty of whole foods that contain all the magnesium your body needs. Whole grains and seeds are especially good sources of magnesium, including oats, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. Dark chocolate is also an evergreen favorite, which boasts not only a high magnesium content but also prebiotic fiber to help with gut health and it’s packed with antioxidants.²
- B Vitamins - There are nine B vitamins that work to maintain your nervous system, gastrointestinal system, and cardiovascular system as well as maintaining balanced hormones throughout your menstrual cycle.³ One B vitamin in particular, B12, cannot be produced by your body and needs to be included in your diet in order to avoid a deficiency (these are mostly found in animal products, so vegetarians and vegans may need a supplement).
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens are an excellent source of B9. Sunflower seeds contain high amounts of B3, B5, B6, and B9. Eggs are one of the best sources of B7 in addition to containing B2, B5, B9 and B12. Salmon is another source of many B vitamins. Nutritional yeast, a staple in vegan diets, contains seven of the nine B vitamins, including a fair amount of B12.⁴
- Vitamin D - Over 40 percent of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, a vital nutrient that helps balance your hormones.⁵ Vitamin D deficiency can lead to low estrogen, an essential hormone for your menstrual health. Low estrogen can lead to symptoms such as mood swings, breast tenderness, and irregular or missing periods.⁶
Fatty fish, tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms are all whole food sources that contain Vitamin D, but you can also get an extra dose of this essential nutrient by getting a few minutes of sunshine every day. Vitamin D levels tend to dip in the winter months when your skin is subject to less sunny conditions, so you may want to consider supplementing according to the seasons.
- Omega-3 Fats - Omega-3 Fats are one of the most important nutrients for women’s hormonal health. An overview of studies found that omega-3 fats can help prevent preeclampsia, postpartum depression, menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, and breast cancer. It reduces inflammation, helps aid healthy pregnancy, and helps balance menstrual hormones.⁷
Salmon and other fatty fish are good sources of omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts also contain high amounts of vegetarian omega-3 fats. You may also want to supplement if you aren’t eating a regular variety of foods containing omega-3 fats.
Finding ways to incorporate all the essential nutrients you need for optimal hormone function can be difficult. Seed cycling is one way you can help maintain wholefood sources of these vital nutrients in your diet. If you’re interested in learning more about how seed cycling can help you balance your hormones click here.
² Heathline: 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy
³ PMID: 31879178
⁴ Heathline: 15 Healthy Foods High in B Vitamins
⁵ PMID: 32353972
⁶ Cleveland Clinic: Low Estrogen
⁷ PMID: 15385858