Aldosterone is another hormone we may not think much about, but it is absolutely vital for our everyday functioning – particularly keeping us hydrated with proper mineral balance. However, if left unchecked, aldosterone in excess can cause a cascade of health issues – particularly inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mineral depletion. If Aldosterone gets too low, you may have trouble holding onto critical electrolytes.
- Overview of Aldosterone
- Conditions Associated With High Aldosterone
- Conditions Associated With Low Aldosterone
- The Good
- The Bad
- Potential Causes of High Aldosterone
- Potential Causes of Low Aldosterone
- How to Decrease Aldosterone (Inhibitors)
- What Increases Aldosterone
- Migraines/Headaches After Exercise
- Aldosterone on SelfDecode
Overview of Aldosterone
Aldosterone is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is known as a “mineralcorticoid”.
High blood levels of potassium signal the body to raise aldosterone production.
Aldosterone works in opposition to atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) produced in the heart, which excretes sodium and lowers blood pressure.
If aldosterone gets too low or too high, disease can result. Thus, it is very important for this important hormone to stay in balance.
Aldosterone’s role in fluid balance is within the context of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS), which keeps our body fluids and blood pressure in strict control.
When cells in the kidneys recognize a reduction in blood flow (lower blood pressure), through a cascade of events, angiotensin I is produced. The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) then converts it to angiotensin II, which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce aldosterone.
Prorenin—>Renin—>Angiotensinogen—>Angiotensin I (+ACE)—>Angiotensin II—>Aldosterone.
ACE inhibiting drugs are used to block the angiotensin-converting enzyme, resulting in lower aldosterone and lower blood pressure.
Conditions Associated With High Aldosterone
- Autoimmune Disease (R)
- High Blood Pressure (R)
- Cardiovascular Disease (R, R2) -Including Congestive Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, and stroke.
- Chronic kidney disease (R)
- Osteoporosis (R, R2)
- Conn’s Syndrome – High blood pressure with an adrenal mass (R). Other symptoms include low potassium in the blood, increased blood volume, and abnormally alkaline blood (aldosterone increases acid secretion).
Conditions Associated With Low Aldosterone
- Chronic Inflammation – Particularly TNF-alpha and Interleukin 1 (R, R2).
- Aging – Aldosterone levels naturally decline with age (R).
- Age-related hearing loss – Also associated with age-related Potassium depletion (R).
- Addison’s Disease – A disease of inefficient steroid hormone production (R).
Aldosterone is required for the body to make cysteine dioxygenase, which is important for the Sulfation pathway of Phase 2 detoxification. Sulfation is the addition of a sulfate to a drug/toxin and most often it makes it less toxic.
Aldosterone is overall not a good hormone to have a high level of. It’s implicated in many chronic diseases and can contribute to inflammation.
Aldosterone is particularly bad for the heart. It increases inflammation (ICAM-1, VCAM-1, TNF, IL-6, and CRP ), fibrosis, oxidative stress, vessel dysfunction, and prevents regeneration of new cells in our blood vessels.
Potential Causes of High Aldosterone
- Stress and Anxiety (R). When the fight or flight nervous system is activated, aldosterone is increased. ACTH part of the mechanism by which the nervous system increases aldosterone (R).
- Elevated CCK – CCK (a gut hormone) increases aldosterone secretion in humans and rats, which will increase blood pressure and cause salt retention (R). People with IBS are more likely to release too much CCK in response to a fat-rich meal (R). Lectin Consumption may also cause elevated CCK: In rats, legume lectins (and probably others) cause increased secretion of CCK (R). In men, beans also increased CCK release, and the study attributes that to fiber (R), but I say it’s also because of lectins.
- Magnesium inadequacy (R, R2)
- Zinc inadequacy (R)
- Low blood pressure (R) – if you have low blood pressure, the body tries to compensate and bring up aldosterone.
- Potassium supplementation (R)
- Acidic blood (R)
- High histamine levels – Strongly stimulates the secretion of aldosterone (in dogs) (R)
- Presence of an aldosterone-producing tumor (R)
Potential Causes of Low Aldosterone
- TNF Inflammation (even a relatively low level) decreases aldosterone synthesis in response to ACTH (precursor of cortisol) (R).
- IL-6 Inflammation – Was associated with low levels of aldosterone in cancer patients (R).
- IL-1 Inflammation (even a relatively low level) decreases aldosterone synthesis in response to ACTH (R).
- High Atrial Nutriuretic Peptide (ANP) – Inhibits aldosterone release (R). ANP has exactly the opposite function of the aldosterone in regard to its effect on sodium in the kidney – that is, aldosterone stimulates sodium retention and ANP generates sodium loss.
How to Decrease Aldosterone (Inhibitors)
- Magnesium adequacy (R)
- Zinc adequacy (R)
- Rooibos (R)
- Probiotic VSL#3 (R)
- Calcium Channel Blockers (R),
Natural ACE Inhibitors Function to Decrease Aldosterone:
- Chitosan (R)
- Whey Protein/casein (R)
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) (R)
- Rose (Rosa damascene) (R)
- Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) (R)
- Tea/EGCG (R)
- Kaempferol (R)
- Ginkgo (R)
- Quercetin (R)
- Black Currant (R)
- Genistein (R)
- Apigenin (R)
- Luteolin (R)
- Blueberry leaf (R)
- Green tea (R)
What Increases Aldosterone
- Salt avoidance – Decreasing salt increases aldosterone more than 3 fold in healthy people with normal blood pressure (R). But not too much… (conflicting?) Excess salt can raise Aldosterone (R, R2). High sodium increases aldosterone in certain rat models (R).
- Potassium increases aldosterone. For dietary potassium you can eat avocados, dates, bananas, tempeh and veggies. This approach is theoretical and there are no studies. You can also take a Potassium supplement, but use care (R).
- Licorice Root (R)– I recommend this for exercise headaches, which are often caused by low sodium. My exercise headaches were caused by an aldosterone insufficiency (caused by too much ACE inhibition and other endocrine abnormalities), which excreted sodium from my body when I exercised and specifically when I sweated. This loss of sodium put me in a quasi-hyponatremic state, which caused a vasodilatory headache. Licorice root powder stops the breakdown of cortisol and aldosterone, causing increased vasoconstriction (increasing blood pressure).
- Sauna (R)
- Physical exertion/exercise (R)
- Lactate (from exercise) (R)
- Progesterone cream (R)
- Calcium (R)
- NSAIDs like Ibuprofen – Can keep aldosterone from being broken down (R, R2)
- Address TNF, IL-6, and IL-1 inflammation (R, R2, R3).
- MSH (R)
- ACTH (R)
- Pathways: Renin (R), Angiotensin II (R)
Migraines/Headaches After Exercise
Low aldosterone will cause low sodium.
Exercise normally increases aldosterone by increasing ACTH, which normally tells our body to conserve salt.
However, if we have inflammation, then aldosterone production will be limited and if we sweat a lot and drink a lot of water it can cause low levels of sodium/salt in the body and symptoms of hyponatremia.
So if you have low aldosterone post exercise, you will have low sodium, especially if you’re sweating a lot, and this can cause exercise headaches.
Aldosterone on SelfDecode
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