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You may read and hear a lot about low testosterone, or “low T.” With common symptoms of low T, like decreased energy, low libido, and changes in muscle and body fat, many men over 40 feel that they, too, must suffer from low T.
While having a healthy testosterone level is important for men, what men never seem to worry about is another very important hormone: estrogen. Estrogen (estradiol) is not something men and many doctors discuss, but your estrogen level is just as important as your testosterone level.
Men produce estrogen through an enzyme called aromatase, which transforms T into a type of estrogen called estradiol. This hormone, let’s call it E, is made in the brain, liver, muscle and fat cells. In younger men, the healthy balance between T and E is maintained; but as men age, other factors such as diet, lifestyle, chemicals, environment, obesity and stress can upset this balance.
Having your T and E levels out of balance can put your health and even your life at risk. If your E levels are too high (we refer to this as estrogen dominance) in relation to your T, you are at risk for cancer, heart disease and changes to breast tissue (such as male breast enlargement). If you have too little E, you also have an increased risk for osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. These imbalances can be caused by too much or too little aromatase. Also, if you have too little T, you won’t have enough to convert into E, leaving you deficient in both hormones.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association measured the blood level of estradiol in 501 men with chronic heart failure. The men with the lowest levels of estradiol were 317 percent more likely to die in the three years of the study compared to men with a balanced estradiol level. Men who had the highest estradiol levels were more likely to die than the men with a balanced level by 133 percent. Your optimal heart health relies on hormone levels that are just right.
Balancing Hormones Naturally
Getting your testosterone and estrogen balanced naturally involves first having your doctor measure your serum levels through a blood test. Most experts agree that a healthy balance is a testosterone level in the range of 20-25 pg/ml (200-900pg/nl) with an estradiol level in the 21.8-30.11 pg/ml range.
Once you know your T and E levels, you can look at the role of aromatase. Aromatase takes your testosterone to make estradiol; so suppressing aromatase, in some cases, can help maintain healthy levels of estradiol and is one of the ways to increase testosterone naturally. Supplements are one natural way to boost testosterone levels.
Studies have shown that these supplements help keep estrogen levels in check:
- Chrysin (aromatase inhibitor)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Saw palmetto
- Stinging nettle
- Pygeum africanum
Healthy habits that can help balance your hormones include maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and diet. Obesity contributes to increased estrogen production since estradiol is made in fat cells.
Diabetic men are at an increased risk for higher estrogen levels as well. Take steps to protect your liver by cutting back on drinking: The liver removes excess estrogen. Avoid synthetic hormones in meat and dairy, and limit your exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors like bisphenol A (BPA). It is also important to manage stress in your life. The stress hormone cortisol can block testosterone production.
Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement program, and ask about both testosterone and estrogen/estradiol. Too much E could be robbing you of your T, affecting your health and the way you feel. Just as you want to seek a healthy balance in life, the same goes for your hormones.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!