You're probably well aware of the symptoms of menstruation. But you may not know about the nutrients lost during menstruation. Menstrual blood loss is normal and healthy, but it's still blood loss that can leave your body in need of replenishing.
As your body sheds its uterine lining, beginning your next cycle, it loses essential nutrients. To find out if you're experiencing any of these deficiencies, you'll need to talk to your doctor, who will take a blood test to provide you with the answers. Your doctor is the best person to recommend vitamins for PMS and menstruation to take before and during your period for system balance.
The best vitamins to take during menstruation depend on your personal health needs. You can, however, benefit from omega-3s, B vitamins and vitamin D during menstruation regardless of whether or not you are usually depleted in these nutrients and require supplementation.
Popular Menstrual Supplements
Omega 3 fatty acids are a popular supplement lining the shelves of most health sections of grocery stores. And it just might be one of the right supplements to take during your period to ease any menstruation symptoms.
These supplements have been said to relieve inflammation, which may reduce menstrual pain. However, these fatty acids have been known to increase bleeding, a particular concern for people taking blood thinner medications.
You may already be using vitamin E oil for your skin, but Penn State Health Center notes that oral vitamin E reduces menstrual pain in some women. Similar to omega-3s, though, vitamin E can increase bleeding, which can be a problem for people on blood thinners. It's always important when you start taking a new supplement to talk to your doctor first. Beyond the vitamin E's impact on blood thinner medications, there can be other contraindications.
Take Your B Vitamins
B vitamins are critical to your health, and you may have heard that you should be taking them for your menstruation. What's actually the case is that folate is crucial to the neural tube development of a fetus. Since this tube is created in the first eight weeks of pregnancy, it's vital for those planning to get pregnant to start taking this vitamin ahead of time. If you're taking contraceptives of some sort though, you shouldn't have to worry.
On the other hand, there are B vitamins that can help with your menstruation symptoms. If you're struggling with moodiness, forgetfulness, bloating, anxiety or irritability, vitamin B6 may be able to help. And if you struggle with energy, it may be due to a vitamin B deficiency. It helps to break food down, which is how your body creates energy.
It's imperative that you have your doctor check you for deficiencies before taking any supplements. In addition you'll want to make sure that any supplements you aren't taking are OK to take with whatever medications you may be on.
Anemia Related to Menstruation
While menstruation doesn't cause everyone to experience anemia, the two can be related. That's why some women may need iron supplementation as well. If you typically have heavy or prolonged periods, then your body may need to have its iron stores replenished. While you don't want to overload your system with iron, there are a few symptoms you can look out for to help indicate a deficiency.
Anemia occurs when your body becomes chronically deficient in iron. Some of the symptoms of anemia are feeling fatigued and weak all of the time. If you find your face paling or your skin turning yellow and your hands and feet are cold all of the time, these may be symptoms as well. Some additional symptoms are dizziness, lightheadedness and headaches.
If you experience these symptoms in sync with your period, then it may be because your iron is dipping too low. The best thing to do is to consult with your doctor. She can perform the proper blood tests to determine what you need. These symptoms can be a sign of something else, and only proper testing can tell you for certain.
Vitamin D May Be Key
Vitamin D may very well have the most benefits for you when you're menstruating. At the very least, it's one of the most widely studied supplements for menstruation. Vitamin D is imperative for the absorption of calcium and can reduce inflammation. The inflammation reduction can help with pain relief, and the calcium absorption is good for your body.
Calcium and vitamin D may also help to relieve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to a small September 2014 study of 80 women with PCOS from the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. When these nutrients were combined with metformin, they helped with ovulation and menstruation regularity.
Vitamin D deficiency was related to several different menstrual disorders in a small study of 77 students from the November 2018 issue of Nutrients. The study showed additional correlated research is needed to understand the relationship of vitamin D and these disorders to determine the impact.
But that's OK, even those struggling with menstrual disorders can still benefit from supplementing vitamin D if they're deficient. Vitamin D can help with PMS-related back pain and moodiness leading to crying, according to a study in the August 2018 issue of Gynecological Endocrinology. Intense menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome symptoms were also relieved according to this study of adolescents.
Read more: 9 Ways to Help Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency
Supplements for Your Period
Magnesium shows promise for its capacity to reduce menstrual pain. With additional studies, this effect can be better understood. Magnesium does have its downsides, though. Too much can cause diarrhea and lower your blood pressure.
Magnesium can also help with menstrual migraines. In a small study of 62 students in the October 2015 issue of Health Promotion Perspectives, participants were found to have deficiencies in vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Supplementing with these nutrients reduced their symptoms. If you're looking for PMS pills to replenish your body with the nutrients lost during menstruation, this is a great start.
If you're deficient in calcium, you very well will benefit from taking this supplement. As noted in the study from Health Promotion Perspectives, women suffering from premenstrual syndrome often are also deficient in calcium. Calcium citrate can help sustain muscle tone according to the Penn State Health Center, which may help to relieve menstrual cramps. However, additional studies are still needed to confirm this effect.
While there are vitamins that your body needs during menstruation, there are those vitamins you should not taking during your period, according to a study from the May 2015 issue of Frontiers in Nutrition. Too much vitamin K, along with fiber and protein, has been associated with menstrual irregularities. And while physical activity is healthy for you, overdoing it can exacerbate these issues as well.
Is This an Emergency?
- Penn State Hershey: "Menstrual Pain"
- Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: “The Effect of Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation on Menstrual Cycle, Body Mass Index and Hyperandrogenism State of Women with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome”
- Frontiers in Nutrition: “Recommendations for Healthy Nutrition in Female Endurance Runners: An Update”
- Oregon State University: “Folate”
- Berkeley Wellness: “Do B Vitamins Really Give You Energy?”
- Medline Plus: “Iron Deficiency Anemia”
- Mayo Clinic: “Anemia”
- Office of Women’s Health: “Premenstrual Symptoms”
- Nutrients: “The Relationship Between Vitamin D Status and the Menstrual Cycle in Young Women: A Preliminary Study”
- Gynecological Endocrinology: “High Dose Vitamin D Supplementation Can Improve Menstrual Problems, Dysmenorrhea, and Premenstrual Syndrome in Adolescents.”
- Health Promotion Perspectives: “The Association Between the Risk of Premenstrual Syndrome and Vitamin D, Calcium, and Magnesium Status Among University Students: A Case Control Study”