Located at the top of each kidney, the adrenal glands produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stressors (both emotional as well as physical), and regulate blood pressure.
The adrenal glands also produce hormones that control our electrolyte balance as well as the "stress" hormone cortisol that is used when our body goes into "fight or flight" mode.
Unfortunately, most of us have too many stressors and lack of sleep, especially us moms, that wear down our adrenals quickly, leaving us feeling extremely fatigued. In many cases, it can also negatively affect blood pressure, electrolyte balance, make weight loss difficult, and many other things. If the adrenal glands are not properly supported through these things, it can lead to worsening problems down the road.
Proactively supporting adrenal health is so important, especially for moms with little ones. There are a few very simple ways to support our adrenals and get us through the stages of life where our little ones need us day and night. In all of my research and professional as well as personal experience, here are the things that have made the most difference.
Vitamin C (in higher doses)
The adrenal gland is among the organs with the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body. In fact, in order to prevent scurvy in parts of the world where it was impossible to get adequate fresh foods (northern arctic regions mainly), the indigenous people would consume raw adrenal gland from a moose. I'm glad we don't have to do that nowadays.
Because stressors and continuous production of cortisol will drain the adrenal (and body) of vitamin c, it is incredibly important to supplement it daily. The amount will vary significantly based on each person's level of stressors, sleep, caffeine intake, the way they handle their stress, diet, etc. and varies from day to day. But amounts from food or food-based Vitamin C has not proven to be nearly enough in my experience.
For me personally, as well as many of my clients, I found that 2,000 mg twice a day was the minimum amount needed to noticeably support adrenal health and energy levels. The most cost effective way to do this is using a non-GMO ascorbic acid powder. Click here for the one I use.
For much more in-depth information on Vitamin C for adrenal health (as well as overall health) including information on dosages and concerns about things like kidney stones with Vitamin C, click here for Dr. Lam's article on the topic.
B vitamins are crucial for adrenal health. These vitamins help to regulate cortisol levels, reduce the body's response to stress, improve energy without wearing on the adrenals, and promote hormone balance.
A very good B complex supplement is a key ingredient in improved adrenal health. But there are some very important things to keep in mind when supplementing B vitamins.
B vitamins are best when taken together in corresponding ratios, so a good B complex with all of the B vitamins is better than just taking one or two B vitamins separately.
Most B complex supplements contain folic acid, a synthetic folate, which can do more harm than good. (Click here to learn more about the difference between folic acid and folate.)
LeAnne Dearduff, D.C. has found through many years of practice that B vitamins as well as a dietary nutmeg essential oil can work much more quickly and effectively than adrenal glandulars to support adrenal health.
These reasons are why my favorite B complex supplement for supporting adrenal health is Super B from Young Living. Super B contains all eight essential, energy-boosting B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12) and was recently reformulated to now contain Orgen-FA®*, a natural folate source derived from lemon peels, and methylcobalamin, a more bioavailable source of B12.
Super B also includes dietary Nutmeg essential oil and bioavailable chelated minerals such as magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. Click here for more info.
Aromatherapy is known to provide powerful physiological and psychological responses. There have been numerous studies demonstrating the effects of essential oils on the body's response to stress. Essential oils that are calming can help the body respond better to stressors.
But because most essential oils are adulterated or extended with adulterants that negatively affect the endocrine system, it is crucial that essential oils used are entirely pure. Click here to read where my in-depth research of two years + on this topic led me.
Per my additional research, here are some of the essential oils (singles as well as blends) that I have found to be most beneficial for helping calm the mind and body:
These essential oils can be used topically as well as diffused to help promote a calming environment and response to stressors. These are all oils that I am comfortable diffusing around babies as well (provided that the area is not very small and closed).
Isn't it so discouraging when we have a sweet little baby who needs us throughout the night to read natural health articles talking about how you HAVE to get to sleep by 10 pm?!! Maybe it's just me, but that info always made me feel like there was no hope for me!
When we need to give our little ones our time at night, more sleep isn't really under our control. (And no, there's no supporting cry-it-out options here. That will just take the adrenal damage from mom and put it on baby.) But there are a few minor things we can do to help support our adrenal health when we can't sleep when we need to:
Refrain from going on portable devices when baby wakes up to nurse. Keep the lights/devices off as much as possible to keep the bodies producing melatonin.
Sleep when baby sleeps as much as possible, especially at night! Other things will wait! Don't be afraid to ask for help from neighbors and local family members with household tasks.
Avoid or severely limit caffeine. I know in the moment your body says you need caffeine, but over time, this will significantly drain your adrenals even more, leaving you more tired than if you hadn't had any caffeine. (Click here for more info on caffeine's effect on your adrenal health.)
Exercise regularly, but not hard-core exercising like P90X or CrossFit which can actually increase cortisol production negatively for those who need additional adrenal support.
There you have it, mamas! Some easy ways to give yourself some extra care and nutrients to get you through these days so you have energy and vitality to enjoy life when those sweet babies are older!
Blessings of good health,
Sara Jo Poff
Natural Health Practitioner
Healthy Families for God