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Chances are, you hated broccoli as a kid, but your mother implored you to eat it anyway. “Eat your broccoli!” is a common trope – it’s in memes, advertisements, and cartoons. It has even become slang for going through a hard time or “paying your dues.” However, as research repeatedly shows, eating broccoli is a good thing, which is why mom wanted you to do it.
Broccoli is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even protein. A single serving (1 cup) of cooked, chopped broccoli provides one-fifth of your fiber needs for the day. One-half cup of cooked broccoli provides more vitamin C than half an orange. There is a wide variety of antioxidants in broccoli, including flavonoids (kaempferol) studied for inflammatory response, carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) studied for eye health, and glucosinolates (metabolized to sulforaphane, DIM, and indole-3-carbinol) studied for liver detoxification and body-wide free radical neutralizing effects.*
The glucosinolates found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and cabbage, go through a series of reactions in your stomach when eaten. There is an enzyme called myrosinase that is stored in plant cells away from the glucosinolates. But once veggies are chopped or chewed, the myrosinase is released so it can react with the glucosinolates, and that’s when the magic happens.
One type of glucosinolate, glucoraphanin (also referred to as sulforaphane glucosinolate – SGS for short), is converted to sulforaphane, an indirect antioxidant that stays active in the body for up to 72 hours and is contained in Thorne’s Crucera-SGS and MediClear-SGS.* Another type, glucobrassicin, is changed by myrosinase into indole-3-carbinol (I3C). When I3C reaches your stomach, the acidic environment there causes many of the I3C molecules to combine in pairs, becoming 3,3’-diindolylmethane (DIM).
Now you might be wondering whether DIM and I3C are really just the same thing? They do come from the same source, and the majority of I3C is converted to DIM – so much so that DIM can be detectable in your blood shortly after taking I3C.3 However, DIM and I3C are different molecules with different (albeit similar) chemical structures. And research even discovered that after four weeks of daily supplementation of I3C, only DIM, not I3C, was found in the blood of the study volunteers.3
One of the main differences between I3C and DIM lies in the stability of the molecules. I3C is relatively unstable – meaning it quickly converts to DIM and other substances after it’s in your stomach. DIM, on the other hand, is quite stable. Whether converted from I3C or taken as a supplement, DIM progresses beyond your stomach as the active molecule in your body.
In terms of a dietary supplement, the benefits for I3C and DIM are similar, most likely because of the high rate at which I3C converts to DIM. However, these days DIM tends to be the preferred supplemental form because of the relative instability of I3C and its conversion to other molecules whose biological actions are not well studied.4 When you supplement with DIM, you are going straight to the active molecule without waiting for your body to first complete all of the conversion steps.
There are many reasons to supplement with DIM. After it moves through your stomach, DIM is absorbed in the digestive tract and carried to the liver where it supports hormone detoxification processes, including improving the ratio of healthy-to-less-healthy estrogens.* DIM also supports healthy testosterone levels by improving the estrogen-to-testosterone ratio.* Because of these hormone-balancing effects, both men and women can benefit from DIM supplementation. You can find all of the benefits of DIM, along with the antioxidant effects of sulforaphane and pomegranate, in Thorne’s DIM Advantage.
2021-03-05 / Updated on: 2021-03-18