Revised as of November 1, 2023
Was your childhood’s diet centered on the battle between what to eat and what not to eat? Where your parents would tell you to eat your broccoli if you wanted to be healthy and strong? Mine too. We eat with our eyes and our nose first and let me tell you, Broccoli did not LOOK good or SMELL good. There was no way that the vegetable that literally makes cats gag, I’ve seen it, could possibly be good for you.
I am here to tell you that your mom was right. Broccoli is, in fact, good for you; in more ways than not. I am also here to tell you that if you never outgrew the broccoli-inducing-gag-reflex, there are ways you can still get the benefits without choking down raw broccoli.
We aren’t here to convince you to eat broccoli, we aren’t your mother for goodness’ sake, but we would like to educate you on how you can live your healthiest life. Let’s begin with the essential benefit that is derived from Broccoli itself and other cruciferous vegetables: Indole-3-carbinol, also known as I3C.
Briefly put, I3C is a chemical compound that our bodies naturally produce to balance our hormones. It is essentially a product of when Glucobrassicin (Say that 10 times fast), a compound found in Cruciferous vegetables, is broken down in your stomach. Each person, both male and female, have both Testosterone and Estrogen hormone levels in their bodies. Both are essential. Let me repeat myself. BOTH are essential. There is this misconception that Men should not have ANY estrogen and women should not have ANY testosterone, but one without the other, your heart, your brain, and your overall health are impacted. Balance is the key.
I will say this often because Balance in all things is the key to living our best lives. I do and will stand by this.
What is cool about the I3C’s purpose is there are good and more cancer prone hormones (I don’t want to say “Bad” because both are essential) but I3C will work to keep them balanced within your body. There have been multiple studies conducted with positive results that I3C may have played a part in rescinding breast cancer, prostate cancer, and boosting adrenal, thyroid and liver health. (2)
We are also seeing an increase in I3C’s supplementation throughout the fitness industry with its Testosterone-conversion-to-estrogen inhibitor abilities (Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?).
In simpler terms, I3C can reduce unbalanced estrogen-absorption by controlling the conversion of testosterone to estrogen (1,3). Overall, I3C keeps the estrogen and testosterone levels balanced in both males and females. It is a natural win-win situation.
- What is so bad about Hormone imbalance?
Hormones are literally involved in every aspect of health. Not only do they allow our bodies to operate at the optimal efficiency, but they regulate almost all our psychological functions too. Which means, they are critical for our bodies, minds and you can even sprinkle in a little bit of soul. Because when you are feeling good on the inside, you feel good on the outside too.
Hormonal imbalances can increase your chances of certain diseases, obesity, and other health problems. Without our regulatory hormonal balancing, the risk for cancer can increase (we can thank our lovely Estrogen for that) or on the other side, your sexual health, skin health, or blood pressure are impacted (These are usually symptoms of high Testosterone). I will say what I said before, Balance is the key.
Saving best for last, we want to touch on Phytochemicals because, you probably guessed it, I3C IS a Phytochemical. In the game of survival, we call life, plants don’t want to be eaten. Unlike animals and other legged critters, plants simply cannot run away. They produce phytochemicals which help them resists fungi, bacteria, viruses and ultimately, being consumed. These chemicals help strengthen the plant’s immune system which surprisingly, when consumed by humans, offers that same protection and immune system boost. It is a cohesive relationship we have with plants and the ecosystem we are a part of. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, sort of way. Makes you want to dig into a big bowl of broccoli and see what you’ve been missing out on, doesn’t it?
- What foods contain relatively high levels of I3C? Just to name a few: (Pretty much the vegetables your inner child avoided like the plague.)
- Brussel Sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Amount needed to take for the impact?
The recommended dosage depends on the strength of the supplement and the purpose it is being taken. According to Theranaturals, 100mg-400mgs is the recommended dosage (One capsule is 100mg. 1-4 capsules are recommended). Overall, please note that depending on the purpose intended for taking the supplement, the recommended dosage will vary.
- What are the side effects?
There have been found side effects when tied to extremely high doses, which involves skin irritation, tremors, nausea, increased bowel movements, increase gas/bloating. Let me put this into perspective when referring to high dosage. Imagine eating a bushel of broccoli. I am talking about eating a bucket of 25 heads of broccoli in a single sitting. Eating anything in that kind of excess is going to give you immediate eating remorse and all kinds of side effects. You know how I have been constantly saying “Balance in all things is the key to living our best lives” … well in this regard, balance truly is key. Listen to your body and your doctor when consuming any type of supplementation and always remember balance.
**Personal experience Alert: I have tried different dosages of I3C and I will say that being of small stature, I am usually better off with smaller dosages. As a supplement, I only take 1 capsule daily and have noticed a positive impact on my hormonal acne and hormonal imbalances, especially around my period. If I take more, I have noticed a side effect of bloating and sometimes nausea. Ultimately, I listen to my body and stop taking them when I notice bloating.
- What if I am NOT ready to Broc-n-Roll?
If you are looking to benefit from the veggies, without eating the actual veggies, Theranaturals provides a supplementation option. “I3C-Caps. The original Indole-3-carbinol.” You can take 1-4 capsules daily based on your supplementation needs.
Disclaimer: The supplements do smell. I3C is still derived from the cruciferous vegetables, after all, but at least you can pop and swallow. I would suggest avoiding the sniff test and keeping the bottle in a cool, dark cupboard.
- 1. Balunas, M. et al. Aug. 2008. “Natural Products as Aromatase Inhibitors.” Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry vol. 8,6; 646-82 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074486/
- 2. Katz,E. et al. Jun. 2018. “Indole-3-Carbinol: A Plant Hormone Combatting Cancer.” F1000Research Vol. 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5989150/
- 3. Auborn,K. et al. July 2003. “Indole-3-carbinol is a negative Regulator of Estrogen.” The Journal of Nutrition Vol. 133,7; 2470S-2475S. https://academic.oup.com/in/article/133/7/2470S/4688465