-Vitamin D deficiency and cortisol connection?

List of patterns/connections I've discovered so far as of June 2015:

Effect: In the beginning, I had a weight gain of about 25 pounds.
Causes: Too much cortisol, (estimated in my case to be around 30 ug/dl at the time). Insulin resistance also a possibility, but never got tested for it and last test results ruled it out. Last tests still revealed elevated cortisol levels though.

Update 2017: Entertaining the possibility that my Cortisol increase might be a byproduct of hormone imbalance rather than causing it. Still having elevated cortisol. have not had my cortisol tested since, but suspect it to be a problem now and then, but seems like the Sea Salt is helping.

Effect: Constant light bleeding/spotting

Cause: Vitamin K deficiency. Irregular/more constant bleeding can occur since Vitamin K's role is blood coagulation. Blood thinning is the result of lower Vitamin K levels along with low blood pressure in many cases. I also had low blood pressure in the first few years of having the hormone imbalance. 

Bioflavonoids seem to have helped with the irrregular bleeding as well since it helps strengthen uterine blood vessels. I've been eating the following with noticable improvements: Red Bell/Sweet Peppers, Broccoli/Brussel Sprouts (occasionally) and Spinach.

Update 2019: Have not had constant light bleeding since 2014. Will have occasional spotting either during ovulation and/or before period which is normal.

Effect: Light bleeding/spotting after eating leeks and garlic.

Cause: I have an allergy to all antibiotics; leeks has allicin which is an active antibiotic substance and garlic has antibiotic properties as well. It might be possible that the potency and amount present could also be a factor-ie a fresh clove of garlic vs a garlic breadstick.

As of mid 2016 I have not had any more problems with Garlic and have resumed including it in my diet. Still have problems with leeks though.

Might have to do with it thinning my blood too much.


Effect: Light bleeding/spotting after eating paprika as well as drinking a protein shake very high in Vitamin C.

Cause: Paprika also has antibiotic properties as well as high levels of Vitamin C.

Update 2019: Still can't eat paprika without it causing light bleeding/spotting. making it a habit to ask for omission of paprika when ordering in restaurants.

Might have to do with it thinning my blood too much.

Effect: Rash breakout after eating honey.

Cause: Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties and has been used as replacement for antibiotics when antibiotic medicines don't improve symptoms.

Update 2019: Tried eating honey a few months ago and don't get a rash anymore.

Effect:Vitamin D deficiency
Cause: I'm still insufficient in Vitamin D as of Dec 2018 and thinking there might be a connection to my cholesterol being maybe too low not allowing me to create the Vitamin D properly via sunlight. Combined with elevated cortisol that keeps taking from the lot, I might be having even more difficulty with having the right amounts of estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D since there's simply not enough cholesterol to create the adequate amounts of all the hormones involved.

As of Jan 2017 my Vit D has plunged to it's lowest level. Bought a Vitamin D lamp from Sperti and currently using that to see of that improves my levels.

Update 2019: Levels are in the mid-high 20's. Having a difficult time getting adequate levels. Eating more herring, drinking a protein shake that has Vit D, eating Total cereal that also has Vit D and using the sunlamp now and then.

Effect:Waking up in the middle of the night and trouble falling back asleep.
Cause: Possible sugar regulation might be off especially overnight triggering my waking up. Cortisol might also be playing a role in this to some degree as well.

Have had this problem before my period from time to time.

Effect:Bleeding Gums.
Cause: Pregnant women can have this due to hormone and people with Vitamin B12 deficiency also have this problem.



Summarization of possible culprits/theories/observations:

-Weight/Diet—In May 2012 I was 138lbs which funny enough happens to be on the high end of normal according to the charts, but within normal range. In Dec 2013 Sara Gottfried’s book “The Hormone Cure” made me aware of the BMI which showed that I was borderline overweight based on my height and weight. That prompted me to start a diet to lose some weight. I started the Paleo diet around the end of 2013 (about 80% based) since I didn’t want to do it in the extreme form and also it seemed to fit closest to the fact that since dairy and beans was off limits due to estrogen. Focused on eating primarily salmon, spinach, fruits and almonds as well as fish, chicken and lean meats.

Update: Over time I dropped to 112 lbs and then up to 116 lbs where I am now. Interestingly, when I got down to around 124 lbs the vaginal bleeding had even more gaps and not as constant as it was in the beginning. I knew then I was on the right track and continued the weight loss to curb the estrogen dominance because I learned that estrogen gets created by body fat and the more fat I could get rid of the better.

-Cortisol--Also thanks to Sara Gottfried, I learned that cortisol is behind progesterone steal which might explain my low progesterone reading. St ill in the process of lowering cortisol. I did an experiment with my last cortisol test in which I didn’t fast since I read that fasting is a form of stress and interestingly, the cortisol was lower by 4 points. I’m starting to believe that many different stresses in my case contributed to the cortisol problem-lifestyle/work, not drinking enough water and not sleeping enough were the biggest factors.

Based on my research, Cortisol happens to be a master hormone that presides over estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and as long as you can't get the cortisol under control, the other hormones never will be. Unfortunately there atre not many Cortisol fighting foods and most of the work that decreases cortisol is reducing stress which is easier said than done!

In my case it seemed like the Cortisol might have been the instigator and triggered the hormone mayhem in me. With night terrors and other stresses including not sleeping at least 7 hrs a night along with not drinking enough water my body became a big cortisol factory. Then one of the following happened:

1>Cortisol got a grip on my progesterone throwing my whole cycle out of whack and had not let go yet at the time causing the 14-21 day spotting.

2>The excess Cortisol manifested itself in the constant light bleeding I had since my body was overloading in Cortisol, (guessing >35 at the time, but unfortunately will never know since I never got tested during the crucial time since I wasn't aware of Cortisol then), and the only means of releasing the excess was vaginally/bladder.

3>Caused the dramatic increase of belly fat and weight which Cortisol is well known for. This bumped up my estrogen way too much causing the constant light bleeding and making the progesterone take a nosedive. On top of that, with IBS-C the estrogen kept getting reabsorbed which made matters worse.

-Sleep—Again, credit to Sara Gottfried-I started going to bed and 9:00-10:00PM every night for about 6 months. I found that adrenals “heal” between the hours of 11:00PM and 2:00AM and one needs to be asleep by that time for full effect. I had been going to bed around 11:00PM-12:00AM previously which was causing stress on my body as well as making my hormones more imbalanced since the adrenals never got a chance to heal.

-Lack of water—This was a tricky one for me to figure out. Most of my life I’ve had to remind myself to drink since I don’t get thirsty except only if I eat salty foods (My mom has the same problem). This was also causing my body stress and took me awhile to see this connection. I find that I can get away with 4-5 glasses of water a day if I even drink that much. I mostly seem to average 2-3 glasses with the food I eat making up for the rest of the fluids. I have been improving on that.

-Vitamin D-This is a new angle that I’m working on for the last year. After getting the results showing that the Vitamin D was on the low end of normal, I started increasing the Vitamin D and still find myself insufficient as of June 2015. I've tried being in the sun more, taking low dose vitamin D suppliments once in awhile and eating many foods with vitamin D, but it doesn't seem to help at this point.

-Raspberry tea-cuts bleeding down FYI.

-Walking-Walked 2.5 miles a day since the hormone imbalance started in 2011. The walking did not help any in the beginning since I was not losing weight at all. However, as soon as I started the Paleo diet, the walking started paying off and the weight started slowly coming off. Had to stop walking long distances one one point since I was losing weight every time I walked. Now I walk occasionally, but will start up in the Spring again to try to lose the last few pounds to 110 lbs to then build up muscle from there, but so far i'm staying at 114 lbs.

-Feeling better bleeding than not from 2011-2013-A weird observation which I now think might have been my body's way of getting rid of excess amounts of something. I'm not entirely sure what, but I'm guessing it was Cortisol or testosterone since those were the only components that were elevated at the time.

-Starting to get leaner and my belly fat is not as bad cutting out waffles and granola. Have bacon and eggs 1-2 times a week. Do have a small "spare tire" which I'm figuring out of it is fat or water and it drives me bonkers!

-Putting more focus on [rotein/fat/less carbs-something like (25-30%/40-45%/30%).

-Carb Cycling diet.

-Too much fat intake can contribute to higher testosterone levels. I did have too much fat intake in the past and had high testosterone levels as well.

2015 objectives

-Started Paleo diet mid-Dec 2013 to current. Continuing with Paleo diet to some degree with carb cycling. Will treat myself to something I shouldn't have at least once a week to keep my morale up. Interestingly, since I've done carb cycling my IBS has pretty much gone away probably due to not eating beans and very limited dairy (1 cup a week).

-Focusing on increasing protein as well as doing more resistance exercises and weight lifting along with abs exercises.

-Setting a tough goal of getting muscular abs showing is now my focus and helping me stay on the diet easier since it's a long, tough process.

-Trying to cut down on abdominal distention. Not sure what is causing that. There's no pain or feeling of fullness like with bloating.

Observations (As of Mar 2015)

-Low cholesterol was maybe a factor in hormone imbalance since it seems to be a foundation for hormones. Minimum healthy cholesterol is 160 mg/dl. In 2013 my cholesterol was 168 mg/dl and in 2014 it was 175 mg/dl. Seem to be having an improvement as my cholesterol climbs up.

Update: Cholesterol dropped to 172 and getting more imbalances as a result. Thinking that lower cholesterol is limiting the hormone creation process.

-Swelling in my abdomen has decreased more and my abs are starting to show more. Still having lower abdominal fat particulary under belly button. Seem to swell now twice a month due to cycle, (around ovulation and period it looks like). So far since I have been toning up the swelling has been going away too, so it might be just fat/water retention and cyclic in nature.

I've been eating more estrogen foods gradually now the last week or so too,  but it will probably take a while to see of anything comes from that.

Took 2 kinds of supplements that I had to discontinue after a few days due to mood swings, extreme fatigue and feeling off. Turns out my immune system has a tendency to overreact to medications and even natural supplements treating them as foreign invaders and goes on an all-out attack on my body resulting in anything from rashes/hives/nausea(antibotics),headache/fatigue/mood swings (natural supplements) and spotting (some foods and spices).

Taking sea salt seems to work very well.


-Frozen shoulder which later was found to be caused by a misaligned clavicle muscle.

-Slow, steady weight gain that ended up being temporary.

-Had Vitamin B12 deficiency a few times.

-Balancing carbs with proteins seems to help.

-Found that I get periodic clashes between the sympathetic and parasympathetic areas of the nervous system.

-Have heartburn problems with sea salt, but finding the sea salt helped with periods, so it looks like the adrenals were a part of it after all.


As everything has unfolded over the last 1/2 year I've started to put together a theory on what actually happened about 4 years ago when this all started and how it progressed. I'm still researching some things, but so far I've determined the following:

Initially, I had suspected adrenal fatigue, but thought it was related to ordinary stresses like life and work since that's the only kinds of stresses you hear about, but couldn't figure out how my life in general would contribute to so much stress since I'm not on call 24/7 or anything like that. How everything has been unfolding the last few months taking sea salt and Vit D, I now start seeing what actually happened and why.

It seems like it was other forms of stresses, not very obvious at first glance, that started the ball rolling in terms of adrenal fatigue. Not drinking enough water was a big factor, but the biggest stress cause in my case was actually too much exercise! Remember I was walking 2-3 miles a day and compounded with not drinking enough water, eating too many carbs a day, not sleeping well and then not getting replenished in terms of electrolytes sent my adrenals into a tailspin. Once that happened, I started getting all these symptoms that are very similar to perimenopause/PCOS in terms of irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes, etc.

What was happening was that my adrenals lost their ability to control/create:
-the correct amounts of progesterone for one thing and maybe too much estrogen in the beginning (leading to irregular periods, but constant bleeding in the beginning, mood swings, and hot flashes)
-my blood sugar which got unstable frequently (leading to the crashes I would have after eating high carb/sugary foods or when faced with too much stress).
-my cortisol which was constantly elevated to a small degree as a result of my body choosing that over Vit D to survive as well as somewhat unusual weight gain in the beginning.
-my testosterone which was constantly elevated to a larger degree causing hirituism.

Also, I noticed that after my walks I was swollen in my stomach area which I started to realize was the cortisol doing that. I still have that even now which is why I started cutting down my walks to 1-2 times a week which seemed to help a lot and do smaller, shorter exercises instead that in total lasts about 15-20 mins. When I saw the 2nd endocrinologist and found out about the Vit D deficiency that was actually a big step in the right direction, but not enough to fix the problem since even though I think I ate/drank enough to replenish the Vit D my body was just not capable of managing the Vitamin D and even being in the sun was not working as efficiently since my adrenals were shot and the ongoing stress levels was making my body choose cortisol over Vit D constantly to survive which worsened the adrenal fatigue putting me in a vicious cycle I couldn't get out of.

Then, the earlier diet I was on going from ~200g of carbs a day to 150g/carbs a day was helping a little, but not enough causing me to see only partial progress.

Fast forward to about 2 years later in 2016, my holistic doctor diagnosed Adrenal fatigue and started me on supplements which my body responded badly to because my immune system was having some autoimmune issues that was probably another result from the adrenal fatigue. I stopped that and went on sea salt which he said would also help heal the adrenals and all of a sudden everything changed.

I was also placed on an even lower carb diet (avg 50-100g/carbs a day). My periods returned to normal, I started feeling better, sleeping better, getting more energy and losing weight. I noticed now that I can also eat high carb foods and don't get the crashes as often. Then a few months ago I started taking Vit D and noticed that I'm getting more lean, muscular, and body fat is dropping a little. Unfortunately I still was not getting the Vitamin D levels to adequate measures, so now I'm trying the Vit D lamp.

Update 2018-Jan 2019

Have been noticing the most dramatic changes during this time which is probably due to my newest diet of little meat, (chicken and fish primarily), and less food overall. Much less bloating and toning up more are the biggest changes along with sleeping 7-8 hrs a night with no problems. Weight is staying very stable at 114-118lbs where my high end of the weight occurs before my period due to water retention. I did find I had to eat more during the winter months because of the cold and not having as much fat as I used to have, but the amount is still much less than I used to eat.

Found I had more food senstitivities and went on a brief fasting/limited diet to "reset". have to minimize intake of wheat, all commercial oils except olive oil and processed foods. Started feeling better after cutting down more as well as sticking more with fish and chicken. Have kidney beans or red meat after heavier periods to try to keep my iron in check.

The only weird observation to date is an increase in pimples along with greasy hair and skin at times. Last time I had that was when I was a teenager! Thinking it might be due to elevated Testosterone again, but even when I had high Testosterone levels in the past, I never had this problem. It seems to occur when I consume something greasy/oily like I get too much oil and it seeps out of my skin! It could also be cycle related too so continuing to monitor this.

Update March 2019-Since stopping greasy foods the acne has cleared up and not return.