Estrogen is the female reproductive hormone. There are three categories of estrogens – estrone (E1) which is produced during menopause; estradiol (E2) which is present in sexually mature women; and, estriol (E3) which is produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
The functions of estrogen are to:
● Protect against heart disease
● Protect against stroke
● Decrease cholesterol
● Lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease
● Improve memory
● Alleviate symptoms of menopause
● Speed up metabolism
● Boost uterine growth
● Increase bone formation
● Reduce muscles mass (for a feminine look)
Menopause is a normal part of aging. Some doctors prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to counter the symptoms of hormone imbalance and to protect against osteoporosis (weakening of the bones). HRT has some risks:
● Breast cancer
● Heart disease
Your physician should discuss the risks and benefits with you before starting any HRT program.
Women have two choices of HRT – synthetic hormones and bioidentical hormones. Synthetic hormones (Provera, Premarin) are made from plant progesterone and animal estrogen. The female body interprets them as toxins – they are not natural to your body. Your body cannot metabolize them properly.
Bioidentical hormones are made to be exact replicas of human hormones. They are made from soy, yams, and other plants extracts. They are changed in a laboratory to become bioidentical to the hormones that our bodies produce. If your body does not tolerate the bioidentical hormones, ask your physician to check your liver function. If your liver is not fully functional, you may have a problem processing bioidentical hormones.
Low estrogen levels in men lead to osteoporosis and male impotence. Estrogen in males is used in fertility (healthy sperm) and bone mineralization.
Nutrients that enhance the production of estrogen are:
● Foods containing phytoestrogens (broccoli, garlic, raspberries, etc.)
● Legumes and nuts (soybeans, pistachio, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts)
● Black cohosh
● Red clover
● Gingko biloba