Progesterone functions and natural sources
Updated: Jun 15
Progesterone - is an endogenous (produced in the body) steroid and progestogen sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species. Progesterone has a variety of important functions in the body. It is also a crucial metabolic intermediate in the production of other endogenous steroids, including the sex hormones and the corticosteroids, and plays an important role in brain function as a neurosteroid.
Progesterone level during female life:
Progesterone stage in female life
Progesterone normal level range
0.1 to 0.3 ng/mL
Follicular stage (preparing the egg to exit the ovary, day 1-14) of the menstrual cycle
0.1 to 0.7 ng/mL
Luteal stage (the egg has left the ovary to the uterus, day 14-28) of the menstrual cycle
2 to 25 ng/mL
1st trimester of pregnancy
10 to 44 ng/mL
2nd trimester of pregnancy
19.5 to 82.5 ng/mL
3rd trimester of pregnancy
65 to 290 ng/mL
What are the effects of low progesterone?
Low progesterone levels can affect both menstruation and fertility. Progesterone helps to promote a good environment for a fertilized egg. When progesterone levels are low, it’s harder for fertilized egg to develop and grow.
Low levels of progesterone can also contribute to certain conditions, including:
absence of menstruation
poor ovarian function
headache or migraine
Nutrients That Boost Progesterone (credit to: mariongluckclinic)
As progesterone is a hormone, there are no foods which actively contain it. However, this isn’t to say that food can’t be used to help your body increase the production of progesterone.
As we’ve already stated, estrogen and progesterone work in relation to one another and fibre can help reduce estrogen levels which in turn can help progesterone work more effectively. Your body absorbs estrogen from certain foods and therefore the longer these foods take to get through your digestive system the more estrogen is absorbed. Fibre helps improve your bowel movements and makes sure there is less time for estrogen to be absorbed into your system.
Foods which are high in fibre include:
Zinc has an impact on a number of different areas of your body which are essential in the production of progesterone, including the ovaries and your pituitary gland. Zinc increases the production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which in turn causes ovulation and leads to the production of progesterone.
Foods which are high in zinc include:
· Lean Beef
· Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
Vitamin B6 has been shown to help improve progesterone levels and is, therefore, one of the vitamins which women who are trying to conceive often take. Research has shown that women who have higher levels of vitamin B6 in their blood have reduced miscarriage rates by 50%.
Foods which contain vitamin B6 include:
· Sunflower Seeds
· Dried Fruit
Magnesium plays a very important role in hormone regulation and is therefore one of the nutrients that boost progesterone levels. The reason for this is that it helps regulate the pituitary gland which produces FSH, Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which lead to the production of both estrogen and also helps to boost progesterone.
Foods which are high in magnesium include:
· Dark Chocolate
· Whole Grains
· Nuts and Seeds
Research has shown that women who take vitamin C have significantly increased levels of progesterone in their systems, in fact, women who took 750mg of vitamin C per day had an increase of 77%.
Foods which are high in vitamin C include:
· Yellow Peppers
If you haven’t heard of L-Arginine you’re probably not alone but it can be very handy to boost progesterone. This amino acid is found in high protein foods and is important in the production of nitric acid which aids blood circulation. Increased circulation makes sure that your corpus luteum (which produces progesterone following ovulation) and your ovaries can work effectively.
Foods which are high in L-Arginine include:
· Pumpkin Seeds
· Lean Beef
Other therapeutic considerations
· Regular sports activities at least 30 min 3-4 times a wk.
· Stress management
· Avoid saturated fats, sugar, reduce intake of caffeine & alcohol.