• Renee Grandi

5 Nutrients to Support Endometriosis

As endometriosis is a complex and chronic condition, every person is different and it is important to know that your healing process is individual. Your practitioners will advise your supplements specifically to your healing condition, however, eating these food sources in abundance will give your body the extra boost it needs to reduce inflammation.

Here is an anatomy chart of your reproductive organs

Have a good look at this as we will bring up terms like ‘endometrium’ and ‘ovary’ in this document. The more understanding you have of your reproductive system, the better.




[Image of] Anatomy of the female reproductive organs [1]



Here’s what the reproductive organs look like with endometriosis – no wonder you’re in pain!





[Image of] Reproductive Medicine staging system of endometriosis is based on a points system that takes into account location, extent and depth of disease in relation to pelvic structures [2].

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids


There’s a lot of hype about Omega-3 EFAs and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and they come in many different forms; such as s a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These unsaturated fatty acids are excellent for nourishing and supporting the cell membranes within your endometrial tissue. They may reduce inflammation, endometrial lesion formations and balance inflammatory pathways associated with endometrial tissue expression [3]. These oils have blood-thinning properties and can improve dysmenorrhea (painful periods) or excessive menstrual clotting. A 2014 research paper found that women with high PUFAs were 82% less likely to have endometriosis compared to women with low EPA levels [4].


The most bioavailable and easily converted sources of essential fatty acids come from fish. Plant-based sources of omega-3 EFA (ALA) are high in ratio’s, however, are limited with enzymatic conversions to the essential (DHA), and (EPA). Algal oils have shown significance in increasing DHA compared to nuts/seeds trials. Research suggests that without direct DHA or EPA consumption, ALA should be doubled [5] [6]. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, try to get these healthy fats in daily.


Food sources: Algal oil, flaxseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, nut butters, hemp oil, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, cod liver oil, nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and avocado.





Vitamin E


Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, particularly for the reproductive system. Antioxidants associated with vitamin E specifically target inflammatory compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can cause cell destruction, ovarian miscommunication and even DNA damage [7]. Oxidative stress is highly associated with endometriosis and must be reduced to support pain. Vitamin E improves reproductive cellular communication and cellular defences against your internal and external environment, particularly reducing pro-inflammatory pathways [8]. Vitamin E has also been shown to support ovary communication, nourish women’s’ reproductive system as a whole [9] and may improve pain with sex, periods and everyday discomfort associated with endometriosis [10].

Food sources: oats, coconut, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, olive oil, avocados, spinach, and pumpkin seed oil. These nut and seed oils are perfect to add on your salads and vegetables. Tip: Pair your oil with a vinaigrette or apple cider vinegar to help digestion and the absorption of fats.





Vitamin A and Beta carotene


So we’ve heard that vitamin A is amazing for acne and gut health – but did you know it works wonders for endometriosis? Beta carotene and retinoic acid are potent antioxidants involved in cellular replication and differentiation in the endometrium – these pathways are imbalanced in endometriosis. It has been shown to help balance 17β-oestradiol an oestrogen that is often elevated in endometriosis sufferers. Vitamin A is a key protective nutrient for the immune system, skin barriers, cysts, and endometrial tissue [11]. The uterine lining must have sufficient vitamin-A stores for endometrial cells to be created and function healthily. Often endometriosis is associated with abnormal gene expression, causing imbalances within the immune cellular communication and increasing inflammatory processes. Vitamin A has been shown to directly improve DNA expression and healthy oestrogen conversions [11]. If you’ve been suffering from acne, rashes or gut issues – vitamin A might help to improve these symptoms.

*Avoid doses over 10,000 IU per day If you are trying to conceive


Food sources: Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of beta-carotene. Cod liver oil, eggs, papaya, peaches, carrots, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, capsicums, liver, meats, and dark green leafy vegetables.






Magnesium


Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body, and we use it a lot without even realizing! Every thought, movement, cramp, cell and muscle tissue require this mineral. It is an important co-factor for DNA, neuromuscular health, digestion and detoxification. Magnesium has been shown to help prevent many gynaecological issues such as PMS, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation – UGH!), menstrual-related migraines and endometrial tissue inflammation [16]. If you’re overly stressed and feel that headaches or migraines are constantly taking over your life - this supplement might be right up your ally! It’s great for increasing blood circulation around the myometrium (middle layer of the uterine wall) and helps to relax your smooth muscles [17]. This occurs by magnesium helping to thin the blood, allow the capillaries to open (vasodilation), reduce blood clotting susceptibility and support your psychological response to stress. It has been repeatedly shown in the scientific literature that magnesium can be reduced over time when using oral contraceptives (this can also be attributed to the increased risk of thrombosis whilst on the OCP) [13].


Magnesium is an excellent supplement to enhance evening relaxation and nourishing your nervous system, taking a daily magnesium supplement can be a nice way to nourish your body holistically and prevent excessive cyclic changes.


Food sources: nuts, seeds, avocado, raw cacao, dark chocolate, wild-caught fatty fish, and green leafy vegetables.






Vitamin D3


It is important to have your vitamin D levels checked if you are suffering from endometriosis. Vitamin D plays very significant roles in your overall health and vitality. It is essential for a healthy immune system and finding abnormal cells and communicating that with the rest of the body. This nutrient can reduce inflammatory mediators often associated with endometriosis. Vitamin D plays a key role in reproductive health, particularly in protecting the local reproductive environment, skin matrix and ensuring healthy reproductive communications. Vitamin D is vital for healthy sex hormone production (progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone), happy neurotransmitters (dopamine/serotonin) and it even helps to regulate blood sugars. If you find yourself constantly inflamed with rashes, migraines, immune issues and never really get the chance to go outside to get some sunshine – it’s worth looking into. Vitamin D = vitality.


Try adding some of these food sources into your diet for an extra boost:

Wild-caught Atlantic salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil, rainbow trout, herring, eggs and mushrooms.


Supplementing with these nutrients can be highly beneficial to inflammatory endometrial states. You must check with a health professional if you are taking any medications or supplements that might interact with supplementing these nutrients.







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References


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I. Encyclopædia Britannica, Artist, Uterus. [Art]. 2012.

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