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

Aldosterone is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is known as a “mineralcorticoid”.

Aldosterone helps the body retain sodium and water and excrete potassium, which results in higher blood pressure.

Aldosterone has a daily rhythm to it, where it increases toward the end of the sleep phase, before early morning (before cortisol rises) (R).

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 (RR2) -Including Congestive Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, and stroke.
  • Chronic kidney disease (R)
  • Osteoporosis (RR2)
  • 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 (RR2).
  • 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).

The Good

Aldosterone increases CD8+ cells (R), so it can be good for controlling viral infections like EBV. Therefore, it could potentially help people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Aldosterone may also be beneficial for some types of inflammation like Uveitis (in animal models) (R) and may block the Nf-kB-induced TNF-alpha in blood cells (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.

Chronic inflammation in the form of TNF and TGF-b decreases the enzyme that turns cysteine to sulfate (cysteine dioxygenase), which results in higher cysteine and lower sulfate.

Normally, aldosterone increases calcium reabsorption (R).

The Bad

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.

In particular, aldosterone increases IL-6IL-1b (R), TNF (R) and induces Nf-kB, the master control switch of inflammation (R).

Aldosterone promotes Th17 immunity (R), which is especially bad for autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and chronic inflammation in general.

In fact, some researchers conclude that aldosterone could actually promote the onset of autoimmune disease (R).

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.

Prolonged exposure to high aldosterone and cortisol induced by chronic stress, significantly reduces hippocampal CB1 receptor binding site density, leading to lower cannabinoid function (R).

High aldosterone can deplete the body of Magnesium (R) and Potassium (R).

Aldosterone in excess can deplete the body of Calcium, leading to osteoporosis (RR2).

High aldosterone is a major cause of high blood pressure (R).

Monitoring Your Aldosterone Levels

You can request that your doctor test your aldosterone. Conventional doctors will look at high or low aldosterone levels and not mention anything. Sometimes, a lab result may be in the reference range, but not actually be in the optimal range. Reference ranges are not the same as optimal ranges. This is why even aldosterone in the ‘normal’ range can be unhealthy and indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal. Lab Test Analyzer will let you know if your aldosterone levels are optimal and what you can do to get them there if they aren’t.

Aldosterone levels are influenced by your genes. If you’ve gotten your genes sequenced, SelfDecode can help you determine if your levels are high or low as a result of your genes, and then pinpoint what you can do about it.

If you’re sick and tired of guessing about your health, SelfDecode can help you find specific answers that conventional doctors/diagnostics may never uncover.

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 CCKCCK (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 (RR2)
  • 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)

Natural ACE Inhibitors Function to Decrease Aldosterone:

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 headacheLicorice 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, R2R3).
  • MSH (R)
  • ACTH (R)
  • Pathways: Renin (R), Angiotensin II (R)

Conventional Treatment for Hyperaldosteronism

Treatment for hyperaldosteronism depends on the underlying cause. The main goal is to normalize or reduce the negative effects of high aldosterone levels, which include high blood pressure and low potassium levels.

If the cause is an adrenal gland tumor, treatment options include [R]:

  • Surgically removing the gland containing the tumor (adrenalectomy)
  • Aldosterone-blocking drugs (e.g. mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists)
  • Lifestyle changes (e.g. limiting sodium intake, losing weight, regular exercise)

If the cause is overactivity of both adrenal glands (bilateral adrenal hyperplasia), treatment options include [R]:

  • Aldosterone-blocking drugs (e.g. mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists)
  • Lifestyle changes (e.g. limiting sodium intake, losing weight, regular exercise)

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.

Irregular Aldosterone Levels?

If you have not yet tested your aldosterone levels, I recommend that you ask your doctor to do it. If you already have your blood test results and you’re not sure what to make of them, you need to check out Lab Test Analyzer. It does all the heavy lifting for you. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your various blood tests.

Check out Lab Test Analyzer!

Get personalized up-to-date science-backed lifestyle, diet, and supplement recommendations based on your lab tests!

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