We all are concerned with keeping our testosterone levels at optimal levels, but too many of us neglect to have our estrogen levels checked and that isn't a good thing as when estrogen levels get too high, they can create all sorts of nasty effects on our health.
Elevated estrogen in men is associated with all sorts of health problems from cancer, to gynecomastia, water retention, lowered libido, loss of erectile strength, moodiness, poor sleep and mood issues. And it gets even worse than all of that, so it is vital that men lower and control their estrogen levels.
High levels of estrogen can also decrease endogenous testosterone production and increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which makes things even worse as it binds itself to free testosterone.
Elevated estrogen can also increase hematocrit levels and cause increased blood clotting and other ischemic factors that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
And if this isn't all bad enough, having elevated levels of estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1) will lower the function of androgen receptors throughout your system.
The Problem: Estrogen Isn't All Bad
If it were all bad for men, we could just find some way to obliterate estrogen completely. Unfortunately we need some of it for maintenance of libido and other things.
Estrogen is used by men to maintain bone density, and abnormally low estrogen levels may increase the risk for prostate cancer and osteoporosis. Even with maintaining optimal testosterone levels, the objective is to achieve hormone balance, not to create sky-high testosterone levels without enough estrogen.
The problem is that over time as we age, most men will have too much estrogen and far too little testosterone. An enzyme called aromatase which lives in our fat cells converts excess testosterone to estrogen and as we age, this gets worse, negatively impacting testosterone-to-estrogen ratios.
Of all the physiological estrogens, including estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3), estriol is the least damaging and somewhat protective.
As testosterone controls mood, libido, muscular development, sexual function, etc, estrogen also has a beneficial side to it as well. When estradiol levels get too low, we start to lose libido (which is intimately connected with erectile function), get sore joints and become more predisposed to depression.
So, men do need to maintain healthy levels of estrogen (ideally, the "sweet spot" for estradiol levels in the male are between 20-30 pg/ml. The range is from 10-45 pg/ml.)
When estrogen gets too high or to low, bad symptoms occur, as evidenced by many guys who take powerful pharmaceutical anti-estrogen aromatase inhibitors ("AI's") like Arimidex.
One of the dangers with using pharmaceutical anti-estrogens is that they can all too easily lower your estrogen levels too low. Often when E2 levels get too low from too high a dose of AI drugs, libido is the first thing to take a hit and then sore joints set in and mood issues ensue.
For the majority of people, who are drug-free, but have estrogen levels and aromatase activity that tends on the high side, it is best to control and manage your estrogen levels with natural compounds.
There are several proven supplements on the market which work at suppressing estrogen in different ways. Some work with the elimination of estrogen by changing its excretion pathways and some prevent the re-absorption of waste estrogen metabolites.
Others work by suppressing the nasty aromatase enzyme which typically lives in the fat cells, converting the androgen class of hormones like testosterone into estrogen.
The 3 Best Supplements for Natural Estrogen Control
Diindolylmethane DIM/Indole 3 Carbinol IC3
Diindolylmethane (DIM), its natural precursor, Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is also present in cruciferous vegetables and regulates estrogen by increasing the good estrogens.
There are essentially two main pathways in the liver for estrogen to be normally metabolized and excreted. One pathway leads to very good metabolites called 2-hydroxy estrogens.
The other pathway leads to bad metabolites called 4 or 16-hydroxy estrogens.
DIM stimulates the favorable 2-hydroxy pathway for estrogen. Through this process, DIM also helps convert the more dangerous form of estrogen (estradiol or E2) into the weaker, less dangerous form (estriol). DIM is usually cheaper than IC3.
There are also studies which demonstrate protective activity of DIM in the prostate.
As with all of our sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, etc) when they are used by our systems, they are bound (conjugated) to transport molecules for elimination. Calcium D-glucarate supports glucuronidation, a conjugation process that occurs in the liver to metabolize hormones such as estrogen, and toxins, by binding them to glucuronic acid and then excreting the compound in bile.
This process can be disrupted by beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme produced by intestinal bacteria. Beta-glucuronidase breaks the chemical bonds established between glucuronic acid and the conjugated hormones or toxins. With a lot of us having damaged digestive systems, excess beta-glucuronidase could be pretty common.
As a result, the hormone or toxin can be freed and then reabsorbed via recirculation by the liver, instead of being excreted though our urine.
Also, elevated beta-glucuronidase activity is associated with an increased risk for various cancers, particularly hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Grape Seed Extract (GSE)
This is perhaps the most potent anti-estrogen that can lower estrogen levels in men, even more so than zinc or resveratrol.
GSE works by inhibiting the enzyme aromatase which converts testosterone in the male into estrogen. GSE, which contains high levels of procyanidins, is a proven suppressor of aromatase activity and aromatase transcription, shown in both cell culture and animal studies.
Used in conjunction with DIM and Calcium D-Glucarate and zinc together is likely all you need in most cases. (zinc is another staple supplement that, among many other things, has strong anti-estrogenic properties and testosterone boosting properties that I will cover in another post)
There are lots of other benefits to GSE as well. It is a very potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent and great for things like candidiasis and other digestive issues and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.