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What does a DIM supplement do, and why should you consider taking one? DIM supplements are thought to affect estrogen levels, and DIM supplements may help with hormonal conditions like menopause, acne, and prostate issues.
What Is a DIM Supplement?
If you were to eat a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, the stomach acid in your body breaks down a compound called indole-3-carbinol. Then, a new compound—DIM—is produced.
In observational studies, a higher dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer. This may be at least partially because of indole-3-carbinol.
A DIM supplement may stimulate the production of 2-hydroxy estrone, a less potent and more beneficial form of estrogen. DIM can also help reduce the effects of 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, which is a stronger type of estrogen associated with an increased risk of uterine and breast cancers as well as weight gain.
In studies, DIM has inhibited aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
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The Benefits of a DIM Supplement
So while we covered the fact that DIM supplements can affect estrogen in positive ways, what exactly are the benefits? What does a DIM supplement do for your body and health?
In both animal and test-tube studies, DIM supplements helped prevent the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.
In one study that ran for a year, women with breast cancer taking tamoxifen were given a placebo or 150 mg of DIM two times a day. The DIM supplements led to a significant improvement in the ratio of the two types of estrogen talked about above.
Early evidence suggests that if the ratio of the two types of estrogen increases, it could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and have anti-tumor benefits.
Estrogen is integral to bone and heart health, but too much can cause irregular periods and worsen conditions that affect reproductive health.
High estrogen or dominance can be caused by medication, such as birth control pills, or PCOS before menopause. After menopause, estrogen dominance can occur because of being overweight or obese. You could also have high estrogen because you make too much or your body’s not removing it the way it should.
The reasons for high estrogen along with medications include having a high percentage of body fat, stress, and high cortisol levels, drinking a lot of alcohol, and having liver problems.
High estrogen can also come from exposure to synthetic xenoestrogens, chemicals in the environment that can be like estrogen when they’re in the body. Xenoestrogens include BPA and phthalates, both of which are found in plastics.
DIM supplements appear to make estrogen levels more balanced. DIM compounds, as a result of their effects on estrogen, can:
- Prevent some of the adverse effects of estrogen on cells
- Reduce toxins produced by your natural metabolism
- Improve mood
- Reduce PMS symptoms
For men, it’s important to realize that too much estrogen can also negatively affect them. If men have high estrogen levels, it can lead to increased cancer risk, meaning DIM supplements can also be good for men in some instances. Men with high estrogen can experience infertility, breast growth, and erectile dysfunction.
DIM supplements can help reduce the risk of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
Some research shows that DIM supplements can combat prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, or PIN, which is thought to be pre-prostate cancer.
In one study, 21 men with high-grade PIN were given either 900 mg of DIM daily or a placebo. The participants who took a DIM supplement had significant prostate health improvements and major improvements in PIN.
Estrogen is a big part of how fat accumulates, and as such, DIM supplements may promote weight loss.
Both too much and too little estrogen in men and women are associated with weight gain.
Along with balancing hormone and estrogen levels, DIM supplements might also stimulate the breakdown of fat and prevent the formation of fat cells.
In an animal study, DIM supplementation significantly reduces fat cell formation.
When you experience symptoms of PMS, it’s because of fluctuations in estrogen levels. DIM supplements might help these symptoms.
During menopause, because of hormonal changes, one of the primary symptoms is hot flashes. DIM supplements are often used to reduce these hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
DIM supplements may be a helpful way to deal with hormonal acne.
Supports Healthy Fertility
Infertility rates continue to rise, and according to some recent research and studies, this may be partially explained by excess estrogen levels. In women study of women taking a DIM supplement, their eggs aged less quickly, and they were of higher quality, which supports fertility.
This could be because of not only the effect of DIM supplements on estrogen but also because it may reduce reproductive system oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can keep an egg from being fertilized.
Helps Thyroid Health
When discussing what a DIM supplement does, thyroid health is also important. DIM supplements can help balance your estrogen metabolism, and that’s part of your thyroid health.
How to Take a DIM Supplement
In studies with humans, the doses of DIM supplementation typically range from 100-900 mg a day.
Doses of up to 200 mg are thought to be well-tolerated.
With that in mind, when you first start taking a DIM supplement, you might experience some side effects. Namely, headaches and nausea can occur, especially with higher doses. This is thought to be due to the impact of the body detoxing excess estrogen.
After around a week, these symptoms should start to get better. If you can support your liver when you first begin a DIM supplement, that can also help with symptoms because your body processes and detoxes excess estrogen.
A 300 mg or more dose is most associated with adverse side effects.
What does a DIM supplement do? Potentially quite a bit, most of it involving the detox of excess estrogen from the body. A DIM supplement can promote hormonal balance, and these supplements can also potentially help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. DIM supplements may also help with weight loss, PMS symptoms, and acne. Talk to your doctor about any questions you might have before trying a DIM supplement.