Shining a Light On DIM
Maybe you heard about DIM from a friend going through cancer treatment, or from your gym rat buddies. Maybe you read about it when while searching for ways to support your seemingly wacky hormones. Maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. Regardless of what you may or may not have heard, we’re willing to bet there’s some information about this trendy supplement that you don’t know but would probably like to. So, let’s sit down and talk all things DIM.
What Is It?
DIM is an acronym for 3,3’diindolymethane, which is a derivative of the phytochemical indole-3 carbinol (I3C) found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc. In normal-people speak, DIM is a beneficial compound that comes from kale and her cousins.
Should I take It And If So, Why?
DIM has recently become popular in alternative and complementary medicinal practices because it’s a powerful little molecule with several really cool potential uses.
Firstly, DIM is being studied as a cancer-prevention supplement. There are a lot of interesting studies which show promising results in DIM’s potential ability to prevent cancer from developing in certain, susceptible populations, such as women who carry the BRACA gene and are therefore more likely to develop certain kinds of hormone-related cancers.1 DIM is not a cure for any kind of cancer and certainly not a guarantee of not developing a cancerous condition in any area of the body, but preliminary studies indicate that it may be able to help reduce your chances of getting certain kinds of cancers. These studies are still in their infancy though, so don’t think you’ve found a magic bullet.
Also, because DIM affects both estrogen and androgen, it may be able to help with certain hormonal conditions.2 The internet is filled with testimonials from people who say they’ve benefitted from taking DIM for issues ranging from hot flashes to acne to hair loss. However, if the hormonal condition you’re taking DIM for is related to too little estrogen or androgen, DIM could make things worse, so be sure you know the cause of your problems before you go popping any pills for it.
There is also some preliminary research which indicates that DIM may be an effective antioxidant.3 This makes sense since the vegetables that DIM comes from are naturally antioxidative. One study showed that this antioxidant action may work to protect neurons, the cells that compose our central nervous system, from oxidative stress.3 Pretty cool right?
Reasons To Not Take DIM
There are a few reasons why we would recommend a person not take DIM, and this is because it’s mechanisms of action are hormone-related. Don’t take DIM if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding since these are times when altering your hormones could cause disastrous consequences. Also, talk with your healthcare provider before taking DIM if you are on any kind of hormonal birth control or other hormone-related medication. DIM can, in some cases, render these medications ineffective or cause other physiological problems related to hormone regulation.4 Too many cooks in the hormone kitchen. As always, we recommend you speak with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplement to your routine.
Things To Look For In A DIM Supplement.
If you’ve decided you’d like to try DIM, or perhaps you’re already using it, here are some things to look for when purchasing:
Firstly, check to be sure the product you purchase has been third-party tested to ensure that what you’re putting in your body matches what the label says. There is actually surprisingly little regulation in the supplement world and choosing products that pay for testing, to make sure their products are clean and void of contaminants, is very important.
Secondly, look for products that are absorption-enhanced. DIM on its own is hard for the body to absorb and, unless the product contains something to help your body absorb it, most of what you take will get flushed…down the toilet. We recommend you look for supplements that have piperine added to them to aid in absorption, or those that use BR-DIM which is a kind of DIM that is absorption-enhanced on its own.
Thirdly, we recommend that you don’t buy supplements with extremely large doses of DIM, e.g., anything higher than 200mg/serving. This is because taking very large doses appears to increase the risk of having adverse side effects such as rash, weight gain, spotting, and other unpleasantries. While DIM is a natural compound, taking it in supplement form gives you unnaturally high amounts of it at once, and mega-doses can cause issues for some people. If you specifically want mega-doses, please discuss it with your physician before you start, and consider working your way up by beginning with more moderate doses.
Last of all, don’t be put off by products that include other ingredients in their DIM supplements. Sometimes having complementary ingredients can increase the amount of good you’ll get from the product. To put it frankly, wouldn’t you rather they filled the capsule you’re taking with additional helpful ingredients than with fillers that do nothing for you?
Can’t I Just Eat My Broccoli?
Yes! Eating vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, is a great way to promote health in your body. If you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, you may not need supplements at all. However, even if you eat several servings of vegetables per day, you still won’t come close to getting the amount of DIM you would if you took it in supplement form. That said, supplements are never an appropriate substitute for healthy foods and even if you take DIM, you still need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. DIM, like all supplements, is meant to supplement a healthy diet with some extra goodness.
In short, DIM can bel helpful for a variety of conditions and is generally considered safe for most people, but research on this compound as a supplement is limited and in its infancy. There are some instances where taking DIM is probably not appropriate or where you absolutely must consult a doctor before doing so, such as in pregnancy, breastfeeding, or when taking hormonal medications. And, while DIM comes from vegetables, it is not a substitute for a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables. That said, DIM does a lot of good for a lot of people and may be just the thing you’re looking for.
In parting, remember that eating healthy, whole foods, and lots of plants foods, is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective things we can do to promote good health in our bodies. As with every preventative/restorative measure though, sometimes these changes alone are not enough to help our bodies function the way we want or need them to. If you are struggling with health problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider such a Naturopathic Doctor, Dietitian, or Mental Health Professional to see if they can offer appropriate guidance and care. We at Wholesome Story believe that healthy communities require community effort, so we advise you to keep your healthcare community aware and involved in your journey as you pursue better health.
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- Yerushalmi R, Bargil S, Ber Y, et al. 3,3-diindolylmethane (dim): A nutritional intervention and its impact on breast density in healthy BRCA carriers. A prospective clinical trial. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/41/10/1395/5847633#208460972. Published May 27, 2020. Accessed December 31, 2021.
- Amare DE. Anti-cancer and other biological effects of a dietary compound 3,3ʹ-D: NDS. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements. https://www.dovepress.com/anti-cancer-and-other-biological-effects-of-a-dietary-compound-33-diin-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-NDS. Published August 4, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2022.
- Lee BD, Yoo J-M, Baek SY, Li FY, Sok D-E, Kim MR. 3,3’-Diindolymethane Promotes BDNF and Antioxidant Enzyme Formation via TrkB/ Akt Pathway Activation for Neuroprotection Against Oxidative Stress-Induced Apoptasis in Hippocampal Neuronal Cells. NCBI. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/9/1/3. Published January 2020. Accessed December 31, 2021.
- Suarez A. Dim supplement for acne & hair loss | dermatologist review @dr dray. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO9v3vC2cEc. Published December 16, 2021. Accessed March 4, 2022.