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Taking dehydroepiandrosterone or pregnenolone, common over-the-counter supplements, can increase your testosterone levels. Pregnenolone -- also synthesized from cholesterol -- provides a building block for many of the steroids present in your body. Dehydroepiandrosterone and pregnenolone have clinical applications in addition to their effects on testosterone. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. When we start our patients on a hormone-balancing regimen, it's crucial to be mindful of mitochondrial function. Receptors for estrogens, androgens and thyroid hormones are found in the mitochondria from many cell types. Estrogen and testosterone play a protective role in the mitochondrial processes implicated in aging. Estrogens have a beneficial effect on mitochondrial function in the vascular system while muscle repair also is dependent on hormonal interaction with the mitochondria. Post-menopausal obesity and insulin resistance may be due to skeletal muscle mitochondrial dysfunction caused by a drop in estrogen levels. Researchers have detected estrogen receptors in mitochondria of rat uterine and ovarian cells, MCF-7 breast cancer cells, cultured human lens epithelial cells and rat hippocampus and neuronal cells.
Researchers have found androgen receptors in mitochondria of LNCaP cells and human sperm cells. In one study, researchers tested the effects of progesterone and 17β-estradiol on mitochondrial function in the brain. Brain mitochondria from rats given the hormones had enhanced functional efficiency and increased metabolic rates. Delayed response accuracy was linked to the number of total and straight mitochondria in the dlPFC.
Thyroid hormones trigger substantial modifications in mitochondrial inner membrane proteins and lipids. Another iodothyronine known as 3,5-diiodo-L-thyronine (3,5-T2) also may impact mitochondrial function. Hormone-balancing regimens will be most effective when they also take into account mitochondrial health. Test patients' thyroid function with a blood test measuring free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and TSH. Consider introducing CoQ10 into patients' supplement regimen to protect mitochondrial health.
Read the third part of this article series appearing in the September 2014 newsletter to learn more about the best lifestyle measures and nutritional supplements for enhancing mitochondrial health.
The first step is to determine hormone levels in your patients by ordering a salivary hormone test and a thyroid test that includes free T3, free T4, TSH and reverse T3.

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM) are two options for balancing estrogen metabolism.
Supporting the health of the mitochondria while balancing hormone levels also is essential.
A combination of iodine and iodide also can be used to support thyroid health, depending on the results of the thyroid test. The health of hormonal tissues and that of the mitochondria are interwoven in a complex tapestry that indicates hormonal health can't exist without mitochondrial health and vice versa. Extensively trained in neuroscience, he has been published in professional journals like "Physiology and Behavior," "Journal of Sleep Research" and "Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews." Linnaeus has been writing for over 25 years and received a doctoral degree in psychology from Bowling Green State University.
Disease and aging decrease circulating testosterone in older women, and that change has a negative impact on their sexual health.
Infertile women can take DHEA to enhance their reproductive health, and schizophrenic patients can use pregnenolone to improve their mental health. The mitochondria are hugely in influential in fueling hormone cells that make up the tissue of each organ. 17β-estradiol and testosterone trigger a complex molecular mechanism that involves crosstalk between the mitochondria, nucleus and plasma membrane of the cell. Mitochondria play an important role in the accumulation of oxidative damage to cells and tissues. Progesterone and estrogen have neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects, supporting both reproductive function and cognitive health. The hormone-treated mitochondria also were marked by increased respiratory function and increased expression and activity of the electron transport chain complex IV. On the other hand, delayed response accuracy was inversely associated with the frequency of donut-shaped mitochondria in the dlPFC.
Aged ovariectomized monkeys treated with a control experienced significantly impaired working memory and an increase in presynaptic donut-shaped mitochondria.
These results are consistent with the idea that thyroid hormones activate the uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation through various mechanisms involving inner membrane proteins and lipids. Mitochondrial dysfunction may be involved in the development of vascular disease, while hormonal effects on the mitochondria protect the vascular system.
The estrogen-related receptor-alpha (ERRa) regulates mitochondrial biogenesis during differentiation in skeletal myocytes. I will go into more detail about lifestyle and nutritional support to enhance mitochondrial health in the third part of this article series.
If we don't support the health of patients' mitochondria at the same time as balancing hormone levels, we risk unraveling the fabric of cellular health. Postmenopausal females become particularly sensitive to the age-related decline in testosterone production. When talking with my patients, I make the comparison that the cells in the human body are like flashlights and the mitochondria act like flashlight batteries.

However, other processes besides oxidative stress are involved in mitochondrial-related aging.
Scientists looked at the number and shape (straight, curved, or donut-shaped) of mitochondria in the dlPFC of rhesus monkeys then compared the mitochondria shape to delayed response accuracy, a measure of dlPFC-dependent working memory. Donut-shaped mitochondria had some flaws compared to straight or curved mitochondria, including smaller active zone areas and fewer docked synaptic vesicles.
The first is a rapid stimulation of respiration, which occurs within minutes or hours after hormone treatment. See the article in this newsletter about hypothyroidism and cholesterol for more information about thyroid testing. Eurycoma longifolia has been shown to restore serum testosterone levels and to have significant positive effects on bone health and physical condition of patients. However, one supplement that is foundational for optimized mitochondrial performance is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
Dehydroepiandrosterone or pregnenolone -- available over the counter -- may provide a better alternative. Patients with mild and moderate cognitive impairment received the steroid or no treatment for half a year. The strength of these mitochondrial "batteries" determines how brightly the cells shine in their designed functions. As noted earlier in this article, after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, cognitive health also diminishes. Relative to controls, females given DHEA showed greater testosterone levels and higher memory scores. Researchers created a model of this menopause-related cognitive decline by studying mice that underwent ovariectomies.
This metabolite of testosterone has anabolic properties in animals, but its impact on humans remains unclear. The activity of mitochondrial electron transport chain components as well as other markers of mitochondrial health significantly declined in the brain of ovariectomized mice.
The steroid treatment increased circulating testosterone relative to both baseline and placebo.
Relative to baseline, steroid intake enhanced circulating levels of testosterone and estrogen. The effect of pregnenolone on women also requires additional testing as no clear results have been established.
Many of the patients experienced side effects, but adverse events were distributed equally between the two groups.

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