As we age, we become more conscious of the importance of hormone health and the role hormones play in our every day lives. There’s no shortage of hormone-balancing supplements on the market these days, although it can be quite confusing to sort out all the junk and quick fixes from the ones that actually help.
Today we’ll be talking about DIM, a hormone supplement that has been found to help balance estrogen levels in clinical trials and reduce the likelihood of estrogen-related diseases and disorders.
What is DIM?
DIM, short for diindolylmethane, is a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables. It metabolizes from the compound indole-3-carbinol and is stored throughout our bodies, including in our liver, kidneys, brain, lungs, heart, and blood plasma.
DIM came under examination when scientists made the correlation that individuals who ate a diet higher in cruciferous vegetables had a lower incidence of many types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. Cruciferous vegetables include:
- Brussel Sprouts
How it Works
In our bodies, estrogen metabolizes into two types: 2-hydroxy estrone (2OHE1), also known as the “good” estrogen, and 16-hydroxy estrone (16OHE1), or the “bad” estrogen. The “good” estrogen has protective benefits for many internal organs. At the same time, the “bad” is linked with diseases such as breast and uterine cancer and can make it extremely difficult for women to lose weight, especially around their midsection.
You can think of it this way: 2OHE1 is a gentle, balanced, protective estrogen that is easy on the body and protects our cells from rapid, abnormal duplication that results in problems like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and certain cancers. 16OHE1, on the other hand, is the highly reactive, unstable, jumpy, crabby cousin that can turn on you instantly. Our bodies are in much better shape when we have more of the gentle, peaceful 2OHE1 than its unfriendly counterpart.
So how does DIM affect the metabolism of estrogen to one type or the other?
It all boils down to their molecular structure. DIM shares a similar metabolic pathway with 2OHE1, or the “good” estrogen. Ingesting DIM stimulates the pathway needed to metabolize good estrogen, dramatically increasing the chance that estrogen will metabolize down into the preferred form. As estrogen metabolizes down the good pathway, unmetabolized estrogen is automatically pulled down that pathway since it is open, decreasing the risk of it heading down the pathway that would metabolize it into 16OHE1, the kind we do not want in large amounts.
Research and Health Benefits of DIM
- May help prevent prostate cancer
- May help provide protection against hormone-dependent cancers
- Enhances estrogen metabolism in patients with thyroid proliferative disease (TPD) and may help prevent TPD
- May help prevent or treat breast cancer, though more studies are needed
- May help treat obesity
Dosage and Considerations
DIM is well tolerated by many people, though it does come with the possibility of a few side effects, such as fatigue, brain fog, and dark urine. The most commonly experienced side effect is a headache, which is more common in women than men. Although other side effects are generally mild, the headaches can vary in severity. To combat this side effect, decrease the dosage to half per day and work your way up, skipping a day if necessary. Taking the supplement with a meal and drinking lots of water also helps.
It’s always best to consult your primary care physician before taking supplements of any kind, and DIM is no different. If you have any questions about hormone health or DIM in particular, please contact us for more information.