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Can Foods Boost the Adrenal System?

By Tracey Roizman, D.C. ; Updated April 18, 2017

Your adrenal glands produce hormones that prepare your body for quick responses to emergencies, illness and various forms of stress. The adrenal glands rely on nutrients in your diet to manufacture many of their hormones and to replenish tired adrenal gland cells. A number of healthy foods provide support to help ensure optimal adrenal gland function.

Orange and Yellow Vegetables

Add lots of vitamin A-containing foods to your diet to boost adrenal function. A study published in the February 2011 issue of the journal "Neurocience" found that retinoids, members of the vitamin A family, influence the function of a loop within the endocrine system that connects the adrenal glands with the pituitary and a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. This endocrine axis controls and fine-tunes the stress response. High numbers of retinoid receptors are located on these structures, indicating a high level of use for this vitamin. Foods high in vitamin A include liver, orange and yellow vegetables and deep green leafy vegetables.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid, EPA, and docosahexanoic acid, DHA, might boost adrenal function in some people, according to Dr. Mary Enig, author of the book "Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats." The anti-inflammatory effects of these fats has a similar effect to corticosteroid therapy in some people with adrenal dysfunction. A study published in the August 2011 issue of the journal "Annual Review of Nutrition" found that DHA reduces inflammation, helps minimize the effects of aging on the nervous system and might help prevent degenerative nerve diseases.

Fish, Milk and Cereals

Vitamin D controls an enzyme in your adrenal glands that is used in the production of adrenal hormones and can help restore adrenal function and increase energy levels. Vitamin D can also prevent an immune response known as anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition in which the adrenal glands are called upon to manage an extreme allergic reaction. An Australian study published in the December 2009 issue of the journal "Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology" found that children with asthma and allergies who live in sunnier regions of the country use fewer epinephrine injections with a device known as an EpiPen to control asthma and allergy attacks. Researchers conclude that vitamin D might play a role in preventing anaphylactic reactions. Sun exposure is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D, however, you can also obtain vitamin D from fish, such as salmon, herring and cod, cod liver oil, fortified milk and cereals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Vitamin C is present in high quantities in adrenal tissue and is secreted from the adrenal glands during the stress response, according to a study published in the July 2007 issue of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." You can obtain vitamin C from a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables, including peppers, citrus fruits, parsley, dark green leafy vegetables and others.

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