Hormones and Weight Gain- The Basics

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Ever wonder if your hormones are affecting your ability to lose weight?

If you have any concerns about your hormones, you can book an appointment with Dr. Lukasko ND. A saliva hormone panel can be requested to identify hormone imbalances that can contribute to weight gain or make it difficult to shed those extra pounds.

Let’s start with the basics… What is a hormone?

A hormone is a chemical that is released from a gland in one part of our body and travels to another part through the bloodstream. For example, estrogen is produce by the ovaries and has biochemical effects on breast tissues. There are a number of hormones being produced by our body, and different hormones interact with each other. Many health issues are often a combination of multiple hormone imbalances rather than just one.

Hormones that effect weight loss and weight gain

Low thyroid hormone can play a role in weight gain. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which our thyroid gland produces low amounts of T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones). People who suffer from hypothyroidism may have dry skin, hair loss, menstrual irregularities, cold intolerance, and difficulty losing weight. Low thyroid function can be due to nutritional deficiencies, stress, thyroid surgery, medications, or autoimmune disease.

Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland when the body is under stress. Cortisol is needed when we are confronted with acute stressors; but long term stress can be damaging to the body. Cortisol is one of the key hormones that is responsible for weight gain around the abdomen (belly).

Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose (sugar) enter the cells. Elevated insulin levels could indicate a diet high in carbohydrates/sugars or that the body is becoming resistant to insulin. If you body isn’t able to bring glucose into the cells, the remaining sugar in the blood will be stored as fat.

For menopausal women, low levels of sex hormones like estrogen can make losing weight difficult.

photo credit: sherrie smith

What you need to know about vitamin B12 deficiency

 

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that is required for a number of biochemical reactions in our body.  It plays a role in metabolism, the formation of red blood cells, and in the maintenance of our nervous system. It also can reduce levels of homocysteine, which is an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It is found exclusively in animal food products like meat, dairy and eggs. Dietary vitamin B12 tends to be bound to protein, and is released with the help of our stomach acid and an enzyme called pepsin. The free vitamin B12 then binds with an intrinsic factor in the stomach, travels through the small intestine and get’s absorbed in the ileum (a part of our small intestine).

Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can occur:

  • if your diet is lacking in animal products (i.e. vegan or vegetarian)
  • if you have pernicious anemia—an autoimmune condition where the body destroys stomach cells that produce intrinsic factors
  • if you are over the age of 50 due to a decrease absorption of vitamin B12 from food
  • if you’ve had a portion of your stomach or small intestine surgically removed
  • if you have a digestive disorder that reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals i.e. Celiac’s disease or Crohn’s disease
  • Some medication can reduce vitamin B12 levels (i.e. proton pump inhibitors, birth control pill, metformin)

 

Signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

-anemia (macrocytic anemia)

-neurological conditions causing weakness and numbness in the arms and legs

-poor memory

-depression

-swollen, enlarged tongue

-mouth ulcers

-loss of balance

-low energy or fatigue

-ringing in the ears

You can visit your family doctor or naturopathic doctor to get tested for vitamin B12 deficiency. I offer in-office vitamin B12 injections, which bypass the digestive tract and allow for better absorption. Most people feel an increase in energy after receiving the injection as well as an improvement in their sleep pattern due to vitamin B12’s role in melatonin production.

 

In health and beauty,

Dr. L

Reference.

Gaby Alan. Nutritional Medicine. Frtiz Perlberg Publishing; Concord NH; 2011.