As an adult, staying on top of your health can sometimes seem so tricky. With all the conflicting information out there in the news, it can be difficult to pick out what’s actually good health advice and what’s bunk.
As kids, staying healthy was fairly straightforward. Getting sick was kind of a fact of life, sure, but at least we had our parents watching over us and telling us how to avoid it for the most part. As long as we didn’t go outside with wet hair, we ate our veggies, and we washed our hands regularly, we were golden.
But now, as adults? We’re just trying to do our best to stay one step ahead of whatever lurking illness out there is trying to get its ugly mitts on us. And to a certain degree, we still have mom’s advice securely tucked away in the backs of our minds, too.
We don’t leave the house without taking a blowdryer to our manes, we’re super careful about washing our hands, and well… maaaaybe we could do a little bit better about eating our veggies, but we’re doing our best. Sure, we slip up here or there, but we’re only human. We at least deserve a gold star for that, right?
Here’s the thing, though. Maybe our parents were right. Perhaps there was a grain of truth to the advice they gave us after all.
Believe it or not, there is something to that “eat your vegetables” business that they were talking to us about as kids. You see, there’s a powerful little organic compound found in vegetables – namely, cruciferous veggies – that packs a bounty of health benefits into a tiny little package. (1)
Called diindolylmethane (or “DIM” for short), it has been shown to do some pretty amazing things when allowed free rein inside our bodies. From clearing up our acne to relieving those vicious PMS symptoms that try to derail us once a month, DIM is nothing short of a miracle worker when it comes to women’s health.
What is DIM?
With a name like DIM, you might be surprised to discover that this metabolite of indole-3-carbinol is a surprisingly bright phytonutrient. While it’s largely flown underneath the radar for the most part, it’s held the fascination of scientists and researchers for years now.
Even though the public is just now starting to learn about all the amazing things it can do, it doesn't mean that the scientific community has been sleeping on it. Extensive studies have been done on it, and the more the researchers learn about it, the more they like it.
But what exactly is DIM? Why are healthcare professionals and doctors and researchers falling all over themselves to analyze it and break it down and study it further? And most importantly, how do you even pronounce “diindolylmethane” in the first place?
(Psst – it’s dye-en-dow-ool-meh-thane. And yes, that extra “i” in there is on purpose. Don’t ask us why, we’re just here to spread the love about it and not question the nomenclature.)
DIM, as we mentioned before, is an organic compound found in certain types of vegetables. More precisely, it’s a metabolite, which is just another way of saying that it’s a byproduct of the metabolism.
When you eat cruciferous veggies – such as kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage – your body immediately starts breaking them down in your stomach. The digestive enzymes in your gut and stomach acid interacting with these veggies lead to the formation of indole-3-carbinol. (2)
It doesn’t stop there, though. Indole-3-carbinol further breaks down into DIM, and that’s where we get the plethora of health benefits from this metabolite.
And in case you were wondering, a metabolite is simply a result of energy metabolism. In this case, it just means that when your body broke down veggies into indole-3-carbinol then into DIM, the end result was the metabolite of which we speak.
Sure, it sounds fancy. But it’s a remarkably humble compound, and the benefits of a DIM supplement for women are nothing short of impressive. In fact, we low-key love it – and everything it can do for our health, too.
What are DIM Supplements?
One thing that we’re huge advocates for here at CLEARSTEM is holistic health. We’re strong proponents of a whole-body approach to wellness, and this includes everything from acne treatments to general wellbeing.
You see, there’s a certain synergistic effect that occurs when you eat foods. The relationship between the vitamins and minerals found in them is fairly complex, but what it boils down to is that it’s usually better to eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you’re living on a steady stream of junk food and soda, don’t expect to offset the damage by popping a multivitamin at night.
Except – and this is a huge exception – is when it comes to certain things, it’s next to impossible to get enough of it from a healthy diet. Yes, eating plenty of fruits and veggies and lean proteins and healthy fats are important for your health.
But when it comes to DIM? Getting enough from the food you eat isn’t just difficult, but it can actually be dangerous. The problem with cruciferous plants is that they’re not exactly the friendliest veggies to eat.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t pinch your nose when noshing on broccoli and cauliflower rice is a perfectly acceptable substitute for white rice, then you’re on the right track. However, the amount of these vegetables you’d have to eat to extract enough DIM (spoiler alert: we did the math down below) from it can actually be harmful.
For starters, these veggies are super high in FODMAPS. If you’re prone to IBS or digestive upset, you already know what we mean. If you don’t, just consider yourself lucky.
FODMAPS is short for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols,” and they’re a type of carbohydrate that’s super hard to digest. Even if you’re not sensitive to them, they can be brutal. But if you are, the smallest amount of FODMAPS can tear up your stomach, leaving you glued to your bathroom for the rest of the afternoon. (3)
Then there’s the fact that cruciferous vegetables are also goitrogenic. What does that mean? Basically, the compounds in them compete with iodine for absorption in your thyroid. (4)
If you eat too many of them, it can actually start to affect your body’s thyroid function. And since your thyroid plays a major role in your endocrine system, you’d be looking at major hormonal disruptions as a result. Not only can it cause your thyroid to become enlarged (causing said goiter), but you’ll also be looking at possible weight gain, brain fog, and even anxiety.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we’re telling you to back away slowly from that delicious massaged kale salad or eschew coleslaw for the rest of your life. Rather, it means that you need to find a healthy balance in eating enough of these good-for-you foods and not tipping the scales into overdoing it.
Since the risk of overdosing on vegetables (and yes, it’s possible!) is so high when it comes to cruciferous vegetables, taking a hormonal acne supplement with DIM in it is actually the superior choice. It contains all the health benefits of this metabolite, but without any of the danger. It’s a win-win all around.
How Does DIM Affect Hormones?
There are a lot of things out there that can affect your hormones. Everything from the food that you eat to the lifestyle you lead can affect them. When you start to add it all up, it can point to a major hormonal imbalance in your body.
For instance, any medications you take can have an influence on them. Birth control pills, for instance, can be either estrogenic (combo pills) or androgenic (mini pills). Spironolactone, a heart medication that’s used off-label for acne, can also tip the scales into estrogen dominance. (5, 6)
Your diet can also affect it. Soy and flaxseed, for instance, are high in something called “isoflavones.” These are a type of plant-based estrogen (also known as “phytoestrogens”) and they can have a serious impact on your hormonal levels. (7)
Then there’s your lifestyle. Elevated stress levels have been shown to have an impact on your estrogen levels, as your body has to burn through your progesterone stores to make cortisol, the stress hormone. Even caffeine-containing beverages (like soda and coffee) and alcoholic drinks can mess with them. (8, 9, & 10)
Your body’s androgen levels can be altered, too. For instance, both sugar and dairy products tend to be androgenic.
Sugar stimulates your body’s insulin levels, which can subsequently lead to elevated androgen levels. And the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) found in dairy products has been unquestionably shown to cause serious acne breakouts. (11, 12, & 13)
The bottom line here? Just about anything can throw your hormones out of homeostasis, but supplementation with DIM can help restore them back to healthy levels.
Improve Estrogen Metabolism
Concerned that your estrogen levels are out of balance? That’s totally valid and definitely worth looking into, especially if you’ve started to notice some of the telltale signs of estrogen dominance. Some common red flags of excessively high estrogen levels can include heavy menstrual cycles, headaches, mood swings, anxiety, weight gain, and even cancer. (14)
Now, it’s important to note that there are both good types of estrogen and bad kinds of estrogen in your body. Just like Glinda was the Good Witch and her hydrophobic sister was the Wicked Witch of the West, we’ve got 2 Hydroxyestrone and 16alpha Hydroxyestrone in our systems.
2 Hydroxyestrone (or 2-Hydroxy estrogen) is the “good” type of estrogen. It’s the naturally occurring, endogenous kind in our bodies. On the other hand, there’s also the 16alpha Hydroxyestrone (or 16-Hydroxy estrogen), which is the bad guy in this estrogen narrative. (15 & 16)
Our bodies need a fairly precise ratio of these hormones in our bodies to stay healthy. While 16-Hydroxy estrogen isn’t bad in and of itself, the poison is in the dose. Once 16-Hydroxy starts to take over, you’re at a greater risk of developing serious health conditions from it. (17)
While research has suggested that 2-Hydroxy can help ward off breast cancer and protect you from disease, too much 16-Hydroxy estrogen can exponentially increase your risk of developing them. It’s been implicated in causing cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. (15, 18, & 19)
DIM is anti-estrogenic, though, which means that it can help restore that balance of hormones in your body. The way it works is by encouraging proper estrogen metabolism, allowing the body to break it down properly. In turn, you can help return those ratios back to a safe and healthy level, sending those estrogen dominance issues packing. (20)
Keep Androgens in Check
Having excessive amounts of androgens in your system can have a serious impact on your overall health as a woman, not to mention your acne. For instance, elevated androgen levels in your body have been linked to several serious health conditions – as well as embarrassing side effects, too.
Not only can it cause problems like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), but it can also lead to acne and unwanted facial and body hair, too. If you’re starting to notice those tell-tell signs of androgen overload in your body, though, taking a DIM supplement can help lower them. Its anti-androgenic properties can help restore that much-needed balance in your body. (21)
The mechanism of action is fairly straightforward. The way it works is by acting directly on the androgen receptors in your body. By changing the way they do their signaling, it can help reduce the levels of male hormones circulating throughout your system and keep everything in check. (22)
In turn, you’ll notice reduced sebum (oil) production on your face. Your moods can also start to stabilize, too. If you’re prone to excessively heavy periods (or even light or skipped periods), using a DIM supplement can help.
Another benefit of DIM for hormonal balance is that it’s been shown to help inhibit a certain enzyme known as “aromatase.” This enzyme is responsible for converting androgens into estrogen in the body. By blocking its action, DIM can help prevent an excess amount of estrogen from building up in your system. (23)
DIM can also block DHT, a super potent type of testosterone that can wreak serious havoc in your body. If you’re not a fan of androgenic alopecia (basically, male pattern baldness in women), growing a beard, and a painful rash of acne on your face, then you definitely don’t want DHT running amok in your system. (22)
It’s important to note that while DIM is both anti-androgenic and anti-estrogenic, though, the role of this supplement is more about balance. It improves how your body metabolizes these hormones, restoring them to the appropriate levels in your system.
In other words, taking DIM isn’t going to negatively affect your physiology and cause one hormone to overpower the other when you start taking it. You’ll still be the same person after adding DIM into your healthcare routine. Just, y’know, without all the nasty side effects of a hormonal imbalance trying to ruin your life.
If I Experience Hormonal Breakouts, Can DIM Help?
When you have acne, it’s understandable to want to get rid of it once and for all. And if you’ve been around the block more than once with your share of dismissive dermatologists, then you’ve probably thrown your share of things at your skin: antibiotics, retinoids, spironolactone… we name it, you’ve tried it.
Here’s the thing, though. Acne is more than just a cosmetic skin condition, and if you’ve struggled with it, then you likely understand this firsthand. Not only is it extremely painful, but it can also start to take its toll on your mental health, too.
Having acne doesn't make you any less beautiful or worthy as a person, but when you look into the mirror and see your red and irritated complexion staring back at you, it can be pretty devastating. Why wouldn’t you want to get rid of it?
But the problem with these harsh prescription treatments is that they’re just a band-aid for your acne. They don’t address the underlying issue of your acne. Even worse, they also come with a laundry list of warnings and side effects, many of which are almost worse than the acne itself!
That’s why DIM supplements are so fantastic. It’s not some scary, questionable concoction that was made in a lab. Since DIM comes from fresh produce and not some test tube or beaker, taking it is as safe as filling your plate up with a delicious pile of healthy vegetables.
And even better, unlike antibiotics or spiro or any of those other prescription acne treatments, it actually works. It’s even safe to take long-term. With so many known benefits and a remarkable lack of risks to taking it, why wouldn't you want to use it?
Because DIM works to restore hormonal balance in your body, it takes a two-pronged approach to treating your acne. First and foremost, the majority of acne – if not all of it – is arguably hormonal. The relationship between hormones and acne is well documented, and for the most part, it’s androgens that are behind 99% of those breakouts.
Since DIM helps ease your body back into hormonal harmony, taking it can help reduce those levels of androgens that are causing breakouts. You’ll start to notice less oil production, less IGF-1, and yes… less acne.
But then there’s the other side of the coin, too. Estrogen. If most hormonal acne is androgen-related, then why exactly is having estrogen so problematic?
Well, for starters, estrogen is extremely inflammatory. This means that it can increase the overall amount of inflammation in your body, leading to serious problems like acne, cancer, and even blood clots and stroke. Lowering it naturally with DIM, though, can help regulate your hormones and bring them back into homeostasis. (24, 25)
After all, too much of a good thing can definitely be a bad thing. You don’t want too much estrogen or too much testosterone in your body, as both can tip the scales and lead to breakouts and other health issues.
Just like DIM helps to reduce the levels of androgens in your body, it can also reduce your estrogen levels, too. In turn, you’ll find that once you start to take it, your hormones will stabilize, your inflammation levels will plummet and your hormonal acne will bid you prompt adieu.
So if you’re wanting to get clear skin, and you suspect your acne is caused by your hormones, then look no further than DIM. This supplement knows what’s up, and it’s been clinically proven to help you have clearer skin.
10 Proven DIM Supplement Benefits
If DIM were a prospective candidate looking for a job in the healthcare sector, its resume would be nothing short of impressive. Unlike other supplements and medications that take only a single approach to managing your wellbeing, DIM does it all. There’s no sleeping on the clock with this supplement!
Of course, it’s one thing to sit here and tell you how great DIM is without backing it up with hard evidence. It’s another one entirely to show you. The science speaks for itself, and spoiler alert: it’s pretty dang amazing.
So settle on in, friends, because we’re about to disseminate all the perks of using DIM. If you weren’t convinced about how awesome it was before now, you’re going to change your tune after you learn more about all the incredible DIM supplement benefits and how it can help you live your best life.
Benefit #1: Restore Hormonal Balance
Hormonal imbalances are surprisingly common among women of all ages, which can lead to a host of problems in their wake. Irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes, and acne breakouts are all common side effects of these imbalances.
Not only can they be super unpleasant, but they can also be dangerous, too. Excessive levels of estrogen, for instance, have been linked to the growth of cancer cells. It can even lead to seizures in those with catamenial epilepsy, further highlighting the dangers of unbalanced hormonal levels. (26, 27)
However, DIM – as we have already pointed out – can help restore that balance. By improving the ratio between good and bad estrogen, supporting the metabolism of estrogen, reducing the levels of androgens in your body, and regulating the free-circulating estrogen in your system, you can start to experience hormonal homeostasis once more. (20)
Benefit #2: Boost Your Mood
Another one of the curious benefits of a DIM supplement for women is how it can help improve your mental health. As ladies, our estrogen levels tend to fluctuate during the month. During the mid-follicular phase of our menstrual cycles, it tends to steadily increase. (28)
Then, right after we ovulate, it plummets. And like a rollercoaster at a convoluted and probably overpriced theme park, it starts to crescendo once more as we approach our mid-luteal phase. It reaches fairly high levels around the start of our periods, then drops sharply once more after it ends.
What does that mean for your moods? Well, if you’ve had a menstrual cycle before, you probably already know firsthand how it can affect it. Sobbing into a pint of Cherry Garcia while watching Marley and Me for the umpteenth time is kinda a rite of passage for us.
Proper estrogen signaling, though, is key to good mental health. When our estrogen levels fluctuate during our cycles, poor moods and depression can result. Conversely, higher levels of estrogen can help promote good mental health and better moods. (29)
Because DIM can help restore hormonal balance, returning them to healthy levels, an overall improved mood can result. Now, that’s not to say that you’re not going to get a little bit weepy next time you watch Titanic, but it does mean that DIM will make it easier to pull out of those hormonal funks that are so common with our cycles.
Benefit #3: Less Painful Periods
For most of us, period pain is just something that we’ve learned to deal with. During that time of the month, it’s all about the baggy sweatpants and the heating pad pressed to our lower belly. Even if you have fairly mild periods, those cramps are nonetheless seemingly inevitable.
However, there’s a reason that those cramps are so brutal. They actually serve a fairly important reproductive purpose, too. The role of cramping during our menstrual period is to help shed our endometrial lining so we can build a new one from scratch during our next cycle. (30)
Unpleasant? Yep. But also necessary.
Except that there’s something else going on here, too. You see, women with excessive amounts of estrogen in their bodies tend to have thicker endometrial linings, a condition known as “endometrial hyperplasia.” (31)
What does that mean for you? In simpler terms, a thinner lining is much easier to shed. But if it’s thicker than usual, it’s gonna hurt like the dickens.
Since DIM can help reduce the amount of estrogen in your body, it can also reduce the thickness of your endometrial lining. In turn, you’ll have fewer cramps and less painful periods. Yeah, we’re pretty stoked about that one, too.
Benefit #4: Reduced PMS Symptoms
We’ve already touched on this one somewhat already, but it’s worth repeating. While the exact cause of premenstrual syndrome isn’t quite yet understood, researchers believe that a change in the estrogen-progesterone ratio can be to blame for it. (32)
Now, it’s important to note here that lower levels of estrogen are associated with poor mental health in women in general. However, a short-term increase in estrogen and a similar decrease in progesterone during the lead-up to your period has been shown to cause that unwelcome assortment of symptoms known as PMS.
If you’ve been dealing with a short temper, tender breasts, ridiculous food cravings (give us all the pickles and dark chocolate, please and thank you), and all of those other not-so-wonderful things associated with PMS, then DIM can help. As it can help reduce the levels of estrogen in your body, you can kiss those unpleasant symptoms buh-bye.
Benefit #5: Prevent Free Radical Damage
Just like death and taxes are two of the seemingly inevitable facts of life, so are free radicals. As a type of unstable atom, free radicals are typically caused by normal metabolic processes. However, external factors (such as smoking, UV exposure, and pollution) can also lead to the formation of these free radicals in our bodies. (33)
Once they form, they can then start ping-ponging through your body, causing oxidative stress and damaging your cells as they careen throughout your system. This can lead to a glut of fairly serious health problems, such as apoptosis (cell death), systemic inflammation, premature aging, and disease. (33)
DIM, though, has been shown to help prevent this free radical damage. As a known antioxidant, it can reduce the oxidative stress that is associated with those free radicals careening through your body. In turn, you can help offset the many problems caused by them, leading to a much healthier version of yourself. (34)
Benefit #6: Improve Your Memory
So again, this one sort of ties in with the previous benefit of DIM, but it’s pretty awesome in and of itself. You see, another common side effect of free radicals is oxidative stress in the brain. This has been linked to cognitive decline and memory loss in mature populations.
However, because DIM is such a powerful antioxidant, it can help mitigate this damage in the brain. Long story short, one of the major causes of cognitive decline is apoptosis and cell death. DIM, though, helps promote something called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). (34)
BDNF has been shown to help promote neuroplasticity, which is strongly tied to memory and learning. Since DIM encourages BDNF formation and safeguards your brain against oxidative stress, it means that you’ll be less likely to face memory loss and cognitive impairment later on in life. (35)
Benefit #7: Achieve Clear Skin
We’re kind of beating a dead horse here, but again, it’s worth sharing this with you again. If you’ve had acne in the past (or currently have it now), you already know how much it bites. Not only can it tank your self-esteem, but all of those lesions on your face are also pretty painful, too.
Since so much of acne formation is tied in with hormonal imbalances, maintaining healthy levels is essential for achieving clear skin. Androgens are a major player in acnegenesis, and the inflammation caused by estrogen dominance is a close runner-up. If you have too much of either hormone in your body, you’re going to likely be dealing with acne breakouts.
While there are certain serums and creams you can use to help treat your acne, getting to the root cause of it is just as important. So if you’re wondering how to get rid of hormonal acne, you need to first take a closer look at what’s causing it in the first place.
Whether your estrogen levels have veered into the too-high range, or ridiculous levels of androgens are playing American Gladiator on your face, you need stable levels if you want clear skin. Treating the root cause of the acne is just as important, if not more so, than trying to get rid of the active blemishes on your face.
And since DIM is shown to help regulate your body’s hormonal levels, it means you’ll be able to reduce the androgens and estrogens that are causing breakouts. The result? Crystal-clear, gorgeous skin that’s both glowing and radiant.
Benefit #8: Make Menopause More Tolerable
For most women, menopause is that stage of their lives that makes its appearance in their late 40s or early 50s. It’s often associated with hot flashes, mood swings, and acne breakouts. It can almost feel like being a teenager again.
But what gives? Why are you suddenly snapping at everyone, promptly apologizing, then bursting into tears afterward? And why the heck do you have the acne of a teenager, but the fine lines on your face of a more mature woman?
As it turns out, estrogen is to blame for this. Or rather, the complete lack thereof. Menopause causes our hormones to fluctuate, and estrogen is the one that is responsible for a lot of the homeostasis in our bodies.
Take, for instance, your mood swings. The fact is, estrogen helps modulate serotonin production. And serotonin is a major neurotransmitter in your body, regulating everything from your moods to your memory. (36, 37)
So if you’ve set your car keys down and then suddenly blanked on where you left them? It’s actually not your fault. Those fluctuating estrogen levels are to blame for tinkering with your body’s serotonin levels.
And that acne? Well, it’s those male hormones in our bodies that are to blame for your breakout. When your estrogen levels plummet, that means that the androgen levels in your body have gone up proportionately to the lack of estrogen. The results of this fluctuation are that nice crop of zits that just suddenly formed along your chin and jawline. (38)
If you’re going through menopause and the symptoms of it are proving to be problematic, DIM can help. By regulating your body’s estrogen levels through DIM supplementation, you can bid good riddance to the brain fog, acne breakouts, and mood swings.
Benefit #9: Support Thyroid Function
When it comes to maintaining a healthy thyroid, estrogen plays a much bigger role than you might initially realize. This hormone has been shown to modulate how your thyroid works, and when you have too much estrogen? (39)
Well, you could be looking at a goiter developing on your neck. (That’s a huge mass right between your sternum and your chin, in case you were wondering.) Or you could even develop thyroid cancer, which would be quite bad, to put it mildly. (40)
Excessive levels of estrogen can also increase the levels of thyroxine (or T4), a type of hormone that is secreted by your thyroid. When it veers into too high of levels, you can find yourself facing a condition known as hyperthyroidism, which is linked to anxiety, tremors, blindness, and even heart failure. (41, 42, 43, & 44)
Too little estrogen, though, and you can veer off into the other direction. This can lead to hypothyroidism, which comes with its own laundry list of problems. Weight gain, fatigue, coldness, irritability… all of these can be traced back to hypothyroidism. (45, 46)
DIM, though, can help regulate your thyroid by choreographing that tricky dance between estrogen and thyroxine to restore balance. In turn, your thyroid can continue to chug along nicely, and you can worry less about thyroid disease sneaking up on you. (47)
Benefit #10: Maintain a Healthy Weight
For many women, their weight is something that’s always there, lurking in the back of their minds. Sadly, preoccupation with gaining and losing it starts at an early age. It’s not uncommon to hear about adolescent and even pre-pubescent girls trying to lose weight, and the fear of gaining tends to stick with us throughout our entire lives. (48)
Staying healthy should always be our number one priority – and not trying to reach some arbitrary number on the scale or a certain pant size. Heck, we’re all shaped differently, and for some of us? Well, those weight or body goals are downright dangerous and virtually impossible to attain.
That said, maintaining a healthy weight (not to be confused with a vanity weight, either!) does come with its own health benefits. For some of us, though, we can try to do everything right on paper and still see the number on the scale going up. (49)
In these cases, the weight gain can be traced back to hormonal imbalances. For instance, if your thyroid is unhealthy, you could be facing weight gain. And of course, we already established how DIM helps improve thyroid function.
Furthermore, elevated levels of androgens in your body have also been linked to unexpected weight gain, too. Having too much testosterone in your body makes it harder for it to metabolize carbohydrates, and this insulin spike can result in unwanted weight gain. (50)
That’s not all, though. Unfortunately, women that have excess amounts of male hormones in their body not only gain weight easier, but also tend to gain it as visceral fat. As you might already know, that’s the dangerous kind of fat that’s linked to its own share of health conditions. (51, 52)
DIM, though, can help combat these issues. First, you already know that it can balance out the hormonal levels in your body. In turn, you can reduce the amounts of bad estrogen in your system, as well as those excessive androgens.
Then there’s some emerging evidence that’s pretty exciting, if we do say so ourselves. Some studies have suggested that DIM can help improve carbohydrate metabolism, which means you won’t get that awful insulin spike and inflammation after eating. In turn, you will be less likely to gain weight. (53)
(This is also great for warding off acne, too, just FYI. We know we already touched on that before, but the importance of proper skin nutrition can’t be overstated. Clear skin + healthy weight = yes please!) (54)
There’s another exciting study out there that suggests that using a DIM supplement can actually protect you from gaining weight in the first place when you overeat on fats. Now, granted, these studies were done on mice. And the last time we checked, we didn’t have a long tail or those cute ears spouting out of our heads. (55)
But with so much potential for helping us to maintain a healthy weight, but without all the extra effort? Now, this isn’t to dunk on working out or eating right at all. Those all have their benefits, no doubt, and we should all strive to eat a healthy diet and enjoy regular exercise.
Look, we’re all doing the best we can here to stay healthy in a world where there’s fast food on every corner and junk food is cheaper than fresh produce. Anything to help us live our best lives is definitely more than welcome. And if we can get that from DIM, then bring it on.
How Much DIM Do I Need?
There are a few different things that can go into determining how much DIM is right for you. Your age, your height, and even your weight are all important factors to consider. If you’re super petite, for instance, you may need less than your Amazonian bestie.
However, more importantly, it’s worth noting that there’s also a point of diminishing returns on it. If you take too much, your body will simply excrete the excess and you’ll have wasted your dosage. And if you take too little?
Well, it won’t have any bearing on your health, either. Kind of like Goldilocks and her porridge, you have to find the sweet spot of determining the right dosage of a DIM supplement for yourself. You’re looking for that amount that’s not too much, but also not too little.
You need to figure out how much is just right for you, and it can take some trial and error. While it’s really hard to overdose on DIM (though we strongly recommend you don’t try it, as the side effects can be pretty dang miserable), you don’t want to go all gung-ho with your first dose.
Determining DIM Dosage
So what does that mean for you? How much is the right amount of DIM for your health needs? To put it simply, we can’t tell you for absolute certain, but we can help steer you in the right direction.
When DIM was studied in clinical settings for conditions like cancer, researchers gave doses as high as 900 milligrams to their subjects. On the other hand, when looking at other variables in their test subjects, they went as low as 50 milligrams. The results?
900mg was definitely overkill, and 50mg just wasn’t enough to make a quantifiable difference. Most test subjects felt great at the 150-200mg zone. However, once they stepped into the 300mg and higher range, they started to notice a few mild side effects from it, like nausea and headaches. (56, 57, 58)
But when the researchers checked the samples of subjects who were dosed at just 50mg, they struggled to find any measurable amounts of DIM in their systems. Going as high as 300mg didn’t help, either, as the difference between the lower 200mg dosage groups and the higher 300mg doses were actually pretty similar.
That brings us to the group of subjects who fell under the “just right” category of dosage. When the test subjects took about 100-300mg of DIM, that’s when they started to notice the positive benefits of taking it – but without any of those unwelcome side effects that bothered the higher dosage groups.
What does that mean for you? If you’re interested in trying DIM, and you haven't figured out your right dosage yet, why not start small? Try about 100mg at first, split into a 50mg dose in the morning and at night, then give it a few days.
If you’re not noticing any DIM supplement benefits after about a week or so, then feel free to bump it up a bit higher. Slowly titrate up the amount of the DIM supplement you’re taking until you find that balance of reaping those awesome benefits, but without feeling like crud because you overdid it. Once you figure out your precise dosage, then you’ll be golden moving forward.
Food Sources of DIM
When it comes to DIM, good luck finding it in the wild. Unlike vitamins and minerals, which are found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables, DIM is kind of exclusive. If you’re not reaching for a cruciferous veggie, then you’re simply not getting any of this organic compound in your diet.
Cruciferous vegetables fall under the umbrella of being part of the Brassica subgroup. This genus includes a huge variety of veggies like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, each of which is known for making small children turn their noses up and stubbornly refuse to clean their plates.
Sure, they won’t be winning any popularity contests anytime soon, but that doesn’t undermine the fact that they’re incredibly good for you. If you’re a fan of foods like kale, collard greens, bok choy, and even arugula, then you’re going to have a heyday filling up on DIM-rich foods. Except, of course, there’s a caveat to it.
We already mentioned this before, but it’s really important that you’re aware of the risks of overdosing on cruciferous vegetables. In addition to possibly tearing up your stomach, overdoing it on these veggies can actually backfire, leading to possible thyroid problems for you.
To put it into perspective, if you do find that 200mg of DIM is the right amount of this supplement for you, you could simply take a dose of it and then be on your merry way. Or you could try to cram it all into your diet from food sources, which would be quite an adventure in itself.
Let’s do some math here. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pull out your calculator. We’ve got you covered.
The chain of command for the conversion from its original state to becoming DIM starts with something called “glucobrassicin.” When you eat a piece of cauliflower, for instance, the acids in your stomach will start breaking it down. One of the byproducts of that metabolism is glucobrassicin.
From there, the glucobrassicin will become Indole-3-carbinol, or I3c. Now we’re talking about the precursor to the actual DIM itself, which means that we’re only one step away from getting the benefits we’re looking for from the veggie. (59)
But we also need to take a look at the amounts found in that piece of cauliflower. If you had a nice, 100-gram serving of cauliflower – or about 3.5 ounces – you’d be getting about 18.29mg of glucobrassicin from it. However, only 20% of that glucobrassicin will actually be converted into I3C. (60)
And from there, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to convert about 60% of that I3C into DIM. What does that mean for you? Well, let’s crunch those numbers just like you crunched down into each bite of that cauliflower. (61)
From your 3.5 ounce serving of cauliflower, you just got 18.29mg of glucobrassicin. 20% of that is 3.65mg of I3C. And let’s be generous and say you got the full 60% of DIM from that source… and now you got about 2.2mg of DIM.
To get a 200g serving of DIM from cauliflower, then, you’d have to eat a ridiculous 20 pound serving of cauliflower. Or, you know, you could just help yourself to a small scoop of DIM and bypass all of that bloating and pain, the literal hours you’d spend eating the cauliflower in the first place, and the goitrogenic issues that could arise from it.
The takeaway here? Eat cauliflower for the flavor (though it’ll never be a replacement for rice, and yes, we will die on that hill, thank you very much), and take DIM for the health benefits. It’s just common sense.
Are There Any Drug Interactions with DIM?
While taking DIM is fairly safe, there are a few people who should exercise caution before diving head first into using this supplement. For instance, if you take water pills or any other type of diuretic, then you might want to steer clear until you get the go-ahead from your doctor.
This is because taking higher doses of DIM has been shown to reduce sodium levels in your body. However, we’re talking about larger doses of this supplement here, to the tune of 600mg or more a day. Nonetheless, it’s always better to be smart about this and check with your GP first.
One other thing about DIM that you should know about is how it’s metabolized. If you’ve ever been warned about not mixing grapefruit juice with your meds, then you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the CYP450 pathway and are familiar with this risk.
But long story short, DIM is metabolized through the liver by the CYP1A2 and the CYP3A4 enzymes. This means that if you’re taking anything else that may be metabolized through the CYP450 pathway, you should double-check before you start taking this supplement. (62, 63)
A few examples can include certain types of statins (like simvastatin), anti-anxiety medications (like buspirone), and even some types of antihistamines (like fexofenadine). Now, this isn’t medical advice, and we’re not going to tell you how to live your life. But if you want to take DIM safely, then it’s best to just send out feelers to your doc before you begin. (64)
For the rest of you, though? There are no other known contraindications, which means that there’s literally nothing holding you back from trying DIM today. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Staying healthy can be downright hard sometimes. We’ve been told to get enough sleep at night, exercise regularly (does a Netflix marathon count?), and eat healthy. In today’s hustle-and-bustle world, trying to tick all of those boxes can be a serious challenge.
It’s not like we don’t want to be healthy. Heck, most of us are doing our very best, even when the odds seem stacked against us.
We strive to get those much-needed eight hours of rest, we try to steer away from the fast food, and we have a skincare routine down pat. Using a quality skin cell serum for dewy and glowing skin is second nature to us, as is reaching for those green smoothies after we work out.
But here’s the thing, though. Even if you are getting enough shut-eye, following the 80/20 rule for eating (where you give yourself a little bit of wiggle room and strive to eat healthy 80% of the time), and doing everything else right, it’s possible that you're still going to fall short.
And you know what? That’s actually totally fine. Normal, even.
We’re human beings first and foremost. Sure, we’re going to slip up here or there, but we’re doing our very best. And if it takes a little bit of supplementation to help us meet our health goals, then who’s to say that there’s anything wrong with it?
DIM has been shown to help balance your hormones, improve your moods, and help you maintain a clear head even into your advanced years. While it’s not going to be a replacement for a healthy lifestyle, it sure as heck won't hurt to add it into an already balanced one.
And by doing so, you can finally start to look and feel like you deserve. Because if there’s one thing for certain, you do deserve to feel great – and no doubt, adding a DIM supplement into your life can help you get there.
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Co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare
By: Kayleigh Christina
Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.
Holistic Nutritionist Kayleigh Christina is the co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare, a non-toxic skincare line that targets acne, anti-aging, and scar reversing utilizing premium ingredients. Christina’s journey into the skincare world started when she developed numerous health issues, including severe cystic acne in her mid-twenties and tried in vain to find a cure.