Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (small glands attached to the kidneys), which helps the body use sugar and fat for energy and manage stress. High cortisol levels have been linked to increased blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as increased abdominal fat, though cortisol itself may not be the direct cause of fat increase. For example, cortisol increases when stress is increased, and stress can often also lead to overeating, which causes weight gain. Still, keeping cortisol in a healthy range is a good idea to maintain optimal health.
Before Using Supplements
Although supplements can be helpful in reducing cortisol levels, there are a couple of important things to know before beginning any supplement regimen. First, many cortisol-reducing supplements claim to help a person lose fat. As mentioned above, cortisol does not necessarily directly contribute to fat gain or loss, and many of these claims have not been verified. Cortisol-reducing supplements should be taken to maintain a healthy cortisol level as well as to help treat other symptoms of high cortisol, such as high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Cortisol levels will naturally fluctuate at different times of the day, but a healthy cortisol level at 8 a.m. is 6 to 23mcg/dl.
Next, supplements should only be turned to after other natural cortisol-reducing methods have been employed. Often these other methods are generally much safer and quite effective. They include avoiding very low-calorie diets, avoiding stress (for example, taking breaks from stressful situations and learning relaxation techniques), and getting plenty of sleep.
For more information on cortisol and other natural ways to lower it without supplements, see the Cortisol Answers page at BurnTheFat.com. A link to this document can be found in the "References" section below.
Vitamins C, B5, and B6 have all been linked to lowering cortisol. A study showed that cortisol was reduced in elite weightlifters who took 1,000 mg of vitamin C each day. Use each of these vitamins as directed on the supplement packaging.
A supplement that has been shown through scientific studies to reduce cortisol is phosphatidyl serine, or PS, which helps repair cortisol receptors and thus can help correct both high and low cortisol levels. A study has shown that 800 mg of PS taken daily is effective at reducing cortisol.
Though research on glutamine is inconclusive about whether it helps to lower cortisol, this amino acid has showed some proficiency at doing just that. Although it is already the most abundant amino acid in the body, glutamine supplements of 5 to 10 grams each day are said to help reduce cortisol levels in a relatively safe manner. As with all supplements, read all warnings and directions before using glutamine.