Hormone Expert Ann Vlass Explains The Ins And Outs Of Picking Healthy Nutrients

By Ann Vlass N.D; B.Sc (Hons)  


Wondering what nutrients to take, and what they can do for you? RESCU asked Naturopathic Doctor and medical scientist Ann Vlass to outline how ‘high potency’ nutrients work for your body.

Nutrients are powerful things. The high-potency ones can have specific effects on biochemical pathways in the body, leading to influences on ageing, cardiovascular health, fertility, hormonal regulation, energy production and mood support.

So what is a high-potency nutrient?

Not all forms of nutrients are made of the same stuff. If you have taken a nutrient that has not worked in the past, then read carefully.

Many cheaper supplements contain substandard forms of nutrients: synthetic forms which are toxic in high doses and often very poorly absorbed. They use cheap sources, very low levels of active ingredients, unwanted binders and fillers that have potentially harmful effects on the body. They’re imbalanced formulations without synergistic nutrient relationships.

When you swallow a nutrient tablet, the active ingredients are released to your stomach and then pass through the small intestine where they should be absorbed into the bloodstream. Nutrients from poor quality tablets get destroyed by the acids in the stomach and most of them go down the toilet, with your money! So don’t be fooled by glossy adverts and marketing.

‘High Potency’ Nutrients:

Nutrient selection can be likened to purchasing a car- the range is broad.

You either go for the Rolls Royce or the Hyundai. They both are cars, and take you from A to B, but their performance power is incomparable. A cheap nutrient uses the cheapest possible ingredients, and even though it is bottled up with a glossy label, the effects on the body (or its performance) is completely different.

For example, there are many forms of calcium supplements on the market, and a very common form of calcium carbonate is recommended to millions of people daily. This is an inexpensive calcium source (it is found in “chalk”) which requires strong stomach acidity to absorb into the body. Otherwise it does not breakdown adequately.

One important factor affecting calcium absorption is how well the supplement dissolves. Particular nutrients such as vitamin D3, magnesium and manganese are also required for maximum absorption of calcium.

So how do you know what a high potency nutrient is?

High potency nutrients are usually sourced by clinician Naturopaths only. Naturopaths are trained extensively over many years to source only ‘high potency’ nutrients for their patients, and to know what particular combination of nutrients will best affect the biochemical pathways in the body.

For example, when I treat my patients, I will check the tongue, hands, nails and eyes, and collect personal information to help me build a clinical profile. Specific testing at the clinic may be required to assess nutrient status, with other pathology tests. The information gathered and the high potency nutrients chosen can have profound effects on the body, and hormonal health.

Here are some of the nutrients everybody needs, and how they work in your body.

Some Power nutrients and healthy progesterone

Pyridoxal-5-phosphate (PLP) is an activated form of vitamin B6 and is much more efficient than the standard vitamin B6. The three major forms of vitamin B6 are pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine, which, in the liver, are converted to pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP).

PLP must be taken under qualified naturopathic supervision. It plays a major role in human metabolism, and is considered to be vital for the proper processing of amino acids to build proteins as well as some of your hormones, particularly progesterone. It also aids the formation of neurotransmitters and is essential for mental process and moods.

It has also been found to increase progesterone levels, reducing progesterone deficiency symptoms such as breast tenderness, fluid retention and PMS. Women taking the oral contraceptive pill are usually deficient in this particular B vitamin.

Some particular flavonoids, particularly luteolin (derived from Perilla), apigenin (derived from Parsley) and quercetin, have been shown to inhibit the breakdown of progesterone. Quercetin also has a secondary action to increase the secretion of progesterone.

Methylating Nutrients: a synergistic balance is needed

Controlling methylation pathways in the body will help to lower elevated homocysteine (a sulphur containing amino acid), which would otherwise have disastrous consequences on the body. Specific methylation nutrients are important for decreasing the likelihood of mood disorders, stroke or heart diseases, osteoporosis and even Alzheimer’s. 

In fact, all my infertility patients will be assessed for homocysteine related issues, as elevation can have consequences on miscarriage risk factors and birth defects.

These power nutrients must be assessed for correct biochemical balance. They include folic acid, B6, B12, and amino acids such as methionine, SAME, betaine trimethylglycine.

Power nutrients and healthy oestrogen

Oestrogen is a powerful hormone that can be both protective and the source behind diverse conditions such as breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and autoimmune disorders. Excessive endogenous and/or exogenous oestrogen exposure is a well-recognised driver of many reproductive and menstrual conditions; and how oestrogen is metabolised is critical to female hormonal health.

Methylation nutrients also affect liver metabolism in the body by promoting the detoxification of 2-OHE to 2-methoxyoestrone – a form of oestrogen that is then readily excretable and anti-carcinogenic. On the other hand, the less active 2-OHE is often called the “good” oestrogen, as it is only weakly oestrogenic and is not associated with disease.

DIM (Di-indole methane) helps the liver convert oestrogen into a healthier form. It is great for conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis & fibroids. DIM also helps correct androgen (e.g. testosterone) excess, a common cause of acne, especially sore, cystic acne. The dose is dependent on body weight.

Broccoli sprouts, rosemary, curcumin, B vitamins, zinc and resveratrol can also provide comprehensive support for healthy oestrogen metabolism.

To find a complementary healthcare practitioner and learn more about good hormone health visit www.tellmeabouthormones.com.au

Ann Vlass is a Naturopathic Doctor and Medical Research Scientist who specialises in hormonal issues.

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