In the US, it is common for a woman’s production of progesterone to fall to near zero at least six to eight years before actual menopause. Therefore, it’s natural to ask, how can one increase progesterone levels? In our clinical experience, low progesterone is often caused by a combination of factors which may include deficiencies of thyroid, vitamin A, and cholesterol. To solve this, a multi-faceted approach that involves lifestyle and nutrition is needed. Below are some strategies we like to employ to balance a woman’s progesterone levels. Please note, it’s key to work with a doctor on balancing your hormones and the following is just for educational purposes.
How to Increase Progesterone
1. Dietary Cholesterol
Cholesterol is the precursor to all steroid hormones and healthy cholesterol levels are key to the production of progesterone (and all hormones). If you drive your cholesterol down too far, you’ll be lacking in the proper production of hormones.
Like most things in life, it’s all about balance. Cholesterol shouldn’t be too high or too low. We’ve all heard it before, high cholesterol is terrible. But conversely, if we don’t have enough cholesterol in the body, our production of hormones, including progesterone may not be optimal. One can often improve the production of cholesterol by correcting thyroid function and eating a nourishing diet.
2. Thyroid Levels
As stated, healthy thyroid levels are key to the production of progesterone because it has an active role in the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone (the precursor to progesterone).
“The active fraction of the thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine, or liothyronine (T3), is essential for the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone, as is the retinol form of vitamin A.” — Dr. Ray Peat
Approximately 1 in 8 women will be affected by a thyroid condition at some point in their lives. The more stress an organism is under, the more thyroid dysfunction. As we age, we encounter more stressors. The thyroid will go down when a person is under stress because the metabolism needs to reserve energy. This is an adaption and protection mechanism. At some point, this interferes with the body’s healing processes. The Standard American Diet creates problems for our thyroid and cholesterol. The best example of this is how polyunsaturated fats in industrial vegetable oils may block thyroid hormone secretion. Thyroid peroxidase levels were reported to decrease in rats fed on polyunsaturated fats (Bajaj, J. J Clin Diagn Res, 2016).
Another strategy to solving low thyroid is with a replacement thyroid solution of both T3 and T4. Thiamine has also been shown to support thyroid levels. Thiamine deficiency among thyroid sufferers is rampant and tends to go hand in hand with individuals with thyroid problems. Thiamine is one of the B vitamins known as B1.
3. Vitamin A
Foods high in vitamin A may help to increase progesterone because, in order to convert cholesterol into steroid hormones, the body needs Vitamin A and thyroid hormones. Vitamin A (from retinol) is required for the conversion of cholesterol to downstream hormones. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include skin problems such as dry skin, acne, and dandruff. From highest to lowest content of vitamin A: cod liver, turkey liver, beef, chicken liver, ghee, butter, cheddar cheese, eggs, and milk.
4. Bioidentical Progesterone
Bioidentical progesterone itself can help to increase progesterone. Bioidentical means that the hormones are chemically identical to the hormones that are naturally produced within your body. Bioidentical progesterone has the ability to effectively replace the progesterone that may be missing in the body.
5. Bioidentical Pregnenolene
Bioidentical pregnenolone may increase progesterone levels because it is a precursor to progesterone. By increasing the level of the pregnenolone hormone in your body, you may be able to increase other regulatory hormones, such as progesterone.
Chasteberry, also known as Vitex has been shown to increase progesterone. For centuries, chasteberry has been used to treat many hormone-related gynecologic conditions. In one review, there were “increased progesterone and prolactin levels, possibly caused by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and stimulation of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels.” (1,2)
What conditions is chasteberry used for?
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
- Premenstrual syndromes (PMS)
- Mastalgia (breast tenderness)
- Menopausal symptoms
- Disorders related to hormone dysfunction
Magnesium is also used in the production of all steroid hormones. Magnesium is an essential ingredient for both cortisol and progesterone production. Unfortunately, the body prioritizes the production of cortisol for survival. Magnesium can be used to replenish the progesterone lost to cortisol. Magnesium plays a very important role in hormone regulation because it helps regulate the pituitary gland which produces FSH, luteinizing hormone (LH), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which lead to the production of both estrogen and progesterone.
It’s no surprise that in one study, magnesium has been shown to be a helpful solution for PMS symptoms as well.
8. Vitamin B6
The ovaries need vitamin B6 to make progesterone. Interestingly enough, research has shown that women who have higher levels of vitamin B6 in their blood have reduced miscarriage rates by 50%. This may be due to B6 improving progesterone levels, which is necessary to protect a baby from stressors. It may be optimal to get B6 from food rather than a supplement to avoid B6 toxicity.
Best sources of B6 include:
- Organ meat
Like all health issues, a multifaceted approach is key if you want to increase progesterone to normal levels. Optimal lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, and sunlight are needed.
Not sure if your progesterone is at a normal level? Want personalized, natural, and effective solutions to your hormonal issues? Get on the Moment Health waitlist. We provide comprehensive testing and consultations for a holistic approach to women’s health.
Medical Disclaimer: This informations intended for educational purposes, please consult your doctor!
- Mills S, Bone K. Principles and practice of phytotherapy: modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.
- Brown D. Vitex agnus castus clinical monograph. Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine 1994;2:111-21.
- Parazzini, F. Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnes Res 2017 Feb 1;30(1).
- Ronnenberg, A. Preconception B-vitamin and homocysteine status, conception, and early pregnancy loss. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Aug 1;166(3):304-12.