Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that keeps the body's blood cells and nervous system healthy. A deficiency in B-12 can lead to health problems such as depression and fatigue. These are also common problems that many women experience during their menstrual cycle. Getting enough B-12 during menstruation is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Contact your health care provider before adding any supplements to your diet.
Menstruation is a regular monthly cycle that occurs in an ovulating woman's body. During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus composed of blood and tissue is shed and discharged from the body. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the menstrual cycle is triggered by hormones. The lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for ovulation, or the production and release of an egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the uterine lining is shed once a month to make way for a new egg.
Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it does not require food to be broken down in the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is an important vitamin in many aspects of a healthy body, such as the formulation of red blood cells, the metabolism, and maintenance of the central nervous system. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can result in anemia, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological disorders, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Women lose an estimated 1/4 cup of blood each menstrual cycle, so it is important to replace all the nutrients lost during menstruation. Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, so B-12 is especially important during this time. A deficiency in B-12 can lead to a type of anemia called pernicious anemia which causes extreme fatigue. Those that suffer from B-12 deficiencies are 70 percent more likely to suffer from depression, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Both fatigue and depression are common symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome.
Sources and Dosages
Vitamin B-12 is present in many animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. Vegetarians are more prone to deficiency as B-12 is not naturally present in plant sources. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a dosage of about 2.4 mcg of B-12 per day. Women who are menstruating and experiencing symptoms of PMS including depression and fatigue should contact their health care provider for a more specific recommendation. Vitamin B-12 is available in a dietary supplement form and can also be administered in shot form by your doctor.
- American Pregnancy Association: Menstruation
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-12
- Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University; Vitamin B-12
- The Everything Nutrition Book: Boost Energy, Prevent Illness, and Live Longer; Kimberly A. Tessmer; 2002
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B12