Pregnenolone is referred to as the MOTHER HORMONE. It is the precursor to DHEA, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. And if pregnenolone is the mother, CHOLESTEROL is the FATHER HORMONE, as it is the direct precursor to pregnenolone. If an individual’s cholesterol is below 140, he/she will not produce pregnenolone effectively, and hence may have decreased levels of the sex hormones! Pregnenolone production decreases with age. At age 75, most people have a 65% decline compared to age 35. The functions of pregnenolone include regulation of the balance between excitation and inhibition in the nervous system, helps increase resistance to stress, improves physical and mental energy, enhances memory, reduces pain and inflammation, promotes mood elevation, improves sleep and helps regulate pain control, learning, memory and alertness. There are several cause of low pregnenolone statures including the aging process, eating too much strutted and trans-fats, low cholesterol levels, hypothyroidism, pituitary tumor and severe illness (pregnenolone will make more cortisol and less of the other hormones to help the body deal with stress). Pregnenolone deficiency can result in arthritis, depression, fatigue, inability to deal with stress, insomnia, lack of focus and memory decline. If replacing pregnenolone one must be careful not to take excess as elevated levels can cause acne, drowsiness, muscle aches, fluid retention, headaches, heart racing, insomnia due to overstimulation, irritability, anger and anxiety.
Can you see how replacing a hormone with an INCORRECT DOSE can cause myriad problems and even exacerbate symptoms and diseases of aging? I have said it time and time again, if you desire to try hormone replacement therapy, go to a physician who understands the web of hormonal interconnections and who understands that bioidentical replacement is the ONLY WAY to go!
We tend to associate MELATONIN with sleep but it is exhibits many functions. It is made from the amino acid tryptophan in the pineal gland in the brain. It is also produced in small amounts in the retina, GI tract and white blood cells. If you eat too many high glycemic carbohydrates you will make less melatonin. Melatonin affects the release of sex hormones, aids the immune system, acts as an antioxidant, decreases cortisol levels, helps balance the stress response and blocks estrogen from binding to receptor sites. It helps prevent cancer, improves mood and sleep quality and stimulates the production of growth hormone. Melatonin deficiency is caused by alcohol, caffeine, electromagnetic fields, numerous medications and tobacco.
Symptoms of excess melatonin include daytime sleepiness/fatigue, depression, headaches, increase in cortisol which can lead to fat storage, decrease in serotonin which can lead to carbohydrate cravings. Excess melatonin production can be cause by bananas, barley, cherries, ginger, oats, rice, sweet corn, tomatoes and walnuts. of course, taking it as a supplement can cause excess as does taking St. John’s Wort or too much exercise.
So there you have it! This overview was meant to educate and stimulate your brain for more knowledge. Next week, we start a new topic in metabolic wellness. Have a safe weekend! Eat responsibly!