15 Best Foods and Supplements To Increase Estrogen Naturally

Increase Your Estrogen Naturally

As a functional medicine practitioner, I understand the profound impact that hormones have on your entire health, especially for women. Estrogen, a key player in your overall hormone balance, influences not only reproductive health but also bone density, cognitive function, and cardiovascular vitality, and when low, can result in a cascade of chronic health problems.

So how do you fix low estrogen? While conventional approaches often focus on synthetic interventions with numerous uncomfortable side effects, my job is to empower you with natural alternatives that support your body’s innate ability to produce estrogen. From dietary changes and herbal supplements to stress management techniques, read on to learn more about how you can increase your estrogen levels naturally.

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Understanding estrogen and your health

Before we dive into ways you can increase your estrogen levels, let’s first take a look at what estrogen is and how it works in your body so that we can fully understand why these natural remedies work. Estrogen is a group of hormones primarily produced by the ovaries, although the adrenal glands and fat cells also contribute. It's not just a single hormone, but rather a family of compounds, including estradiol, estrone, and estriol. 

One of estrogen's key roles is regulating the menstrual cycle and preps your body for potential pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining. Estrogen also contributes to mood regulation, maintaining healthy skin, and supporting the cardiovascular system by influencing cholesterol levels. However, estrogen doesn't work in isolation. Its dynamic dance with another hormone, progesterone, is crucial for maintaining hormonal balance and overall wellness.

Progesterone works synergistically with estrogen to create a harmonious hormonal environment. Produced in the ovaries after ovulation and later by the placenta during pregnancy, progesterone prepares the uterine lining for potential implantation and supports a developing pregnancy. But one of its primary functions is to counterbalance the effects of estrogen. If estrogen levels are too low, it can lead to a cascade of health problems.

How Phytoestrogens Work

Understanding how phytoestrogens work is essential for comprehending their role in human health. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived compounds that have a similar structure to estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. When consumed, phytoestrogens can interact with estrogen receptors in the body, either mimicking or modulating the effects of estrogen. 

This interaction can have diverse physiological effects, including regulating hormone levels, supporting bone health, and potentially reducing the risk of certain hormone-related cancers.

There are several types of phytoestrogens found in various plant-based foods, each with its own unique properties and potential health benefits. 

  • Coumestans are phytoestrogens found in foods like sprouts, peas, and beans. They have been studied for their potential anti-cancer properties and ability to regulate estrogen levels. 
  • Isoflavones are another well-known class of phytoestrogens, abundant in soybeans. They have been associated with various health benefits, including improved heart health and menopausal symptom relief. It's common to be sensitive to soy, however, so I would caution you to monitor your body's response to any soy products. 
  • Lignans, found in flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and whole grains, are also phytoestrogens with antioxidant and potential anticancer properties. 
  • Stilbenes, found in red grapes and red wine, are phytoestrogens that have gained attention for their potential cardiovascular benefits and antioxidant effects. 

Understanding the different types of phytoestrogens and their sources can help individuals incorporate a diverse range of plant-based foods into their diets to support overall health and well-being.

What causes low estrogen?

It is normal for estrogen levels to decrease as you get older, especially as you get closer to menopause. However, for some people estrogen levels can take a nosedive even sooner due to a variety of reasons:

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Chronic stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Radiation or chemotherapy
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (premature menopause)
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pituitary gland issues
  • Hormone fluctuations after childbirth
  • Hysterectomy

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Common signs of low estrogen

What are the signs of low estrogen? While estrogen levels naturally ebb and flow throughout your cycle, chronically low estrogen levels can result in the following symptoms:

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Low libido
  • Moodiness
  • Brain fog
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Bone loss or osteoporosis (estrogen helps maintain bone density)

If you suspect your symptoms are due to low estrogen, lab work is the best way to know for sure. Not only will they give you an accurate look at your estrogen levels, they will also give you insight into the rest of your hormone levels and how they relate to estrogen - particularly progesterone and testosterone. Check out my article here to learn more about how to get your hormone levels tested.

How to increase estrogen naturally

So how can you increase your estrogen levels naturally? Thankfully, there are many ways to support healthy estrogen levels. By understanding how estrogen is influenced through different lifestyle and dietary changes we can learn how to increase estrogen naturally and promote hormonal balance.

Foods High in Phytoestrogens

Consider working foods like these into your diet: 

Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbal Supplements

There are plenty of vitamins, minerals, and supplements you can take to increase your estrogen: 

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D
  • DHEA
  • Boron
  • Black cohosh
  • Red clover

Lifestyle Changes

Other than supplements and food, there are some lifestyle changes I’d recommend you look at to support your estrogen balance: 

  • Sleep. It might seem contradictory to recommend getting more sleep when low estrogen can make sleeping difficult, but prioritizing sleep and cultivating a nighttime routine can allow for more hours of uninterrupted sleep which in turn will help improve your estrogen levels and overall hormone balance. 
  • Stress. Chronic, unrelenting stress is one of the key destroyers of hormone balance. When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol that can inhibit estrogen production, leading to low estrogen levels over time. When it comes to managing stress, I always suggest incorporating mindfulness techniques like meditation and breathwork that can be done throughout your day in addition to reassessing your boundaries with work and relationships to cut out as much unnecessary stress as possible.

What about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

For many people with low estrogen - particularly those going through menopause - hormone replacement therapy is a popular treatment often prescribed in conventional medicine as a way to combat the effects of low estrogen by boosting your levels. Hormone replacement therapy utilizes hormone patches, pills, and vaginal creams to deliver synthetic estrogen into your system as a way to restore estrogen to proper levels.

Although hormone replacement therapy can be an effective solution it often has its own set of uncomfortable side effects including:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion

And those are just the minor side effects. Research has shown that HRT can increase your risk of blood clots, breast cancer, stroke, and heart attacks so it is not recommended for long-term use for more than 5 years. Because of these symptoms and the increased risk for more severe health problems, more people are wanting to know how to naturally increase estrogen so that they don’t have to rely on hormone replacement therapy.

Discover the real reason for your low estrogen levels

If you struggle with low estrogen, there are many answers to the question of how to increase estrogen naturally. From superfoods to supplements, these clinically-backed remedies can help support proper estrogen levels without having to turn to hormone replacement therapy. Whether you are struggling with uncomfortable symptoms or looking to maintain healthy estrogen levels as you age, these natural remedies can help you and your hormones thrive.

However, as a functional medicine expert, I know that one of the best ways to restore hormone balance is by uncovering the root cause of why your estrogen levels are low in the first place. At my telehealth functional medicine clinic, we take a whole-body approach to your health by examining every aspect of your health case--diet, lifestyle, stress levels, toxin exposure, and more--to determine what exactly is contributing to any imbalances. This allows us to put together recommendations that target your specific areas of dysfunction for long-term, sustainable healing.

If you are looking for more support in your hormone health journey, schedule a telehealth consultation today to learn more about how we can help you using functional medicine.

READ NEXT: What Is Estrogen Dominance? Signs & Natural Treatments

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References:

  1. Zhu, Yan et al. “The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on estradiol levels in women: A dose-response and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.” Steroids vol. 173 (2021): 108889. doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2021.108889
  2. Peng, Jie et al. Zhejiang da xue xue bao. Yi xue ban = Journal of Zhejiang University. Medical sciences vol. 49,3 (2020): 397-405. doi:10.3785/j.issn.1008-9292.2020.06.06
  3. Kinuta, K et al. “Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis of both female and male gonads.” Endocrinology vol. 141,4 (2000): 1317-24. doi:10.1210/endo.141.4.7403
  4. Desmawati, Desmawati, and Delmi Sulastri. “Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect.” Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences vol. 7,3 495-499. 14 Feb. 2019, doi:10.3889/oamjms.2019.044
  5. Science Direct “Red Clover Extract” https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/red-clover-extract Accessed August 2023.
  6. Nielsen, F H et al. “Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women.” FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology vol. 1,5 (1987): 394-7.

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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BY DR. WILL COLE

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Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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