Abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual cycles, medically termed menorrhagia, can make your life miserable. If you have menorrhagia, you might have heavy menstrual bleeding that lasts for more than one week. Vitamin deficiency does not generally cause menorrhagia, although vitamin A or K deficiency might cause the disorder. Vitamin C might also contribute. Low levels of iron, a mineral rather than a vitamin, can also cause prolonged or heavy menstrual periods.
Vitamin K plays an essential role in the formation of coagulation factors, which help blood clot. When blood doesn't clot properly, heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding can occur. Vitamin K deficiency can occur if you take anticoagulant medications such as warfarin, or from impaired fat absorption or poor dietary intake. Vitamin K is found in a number of foods, including green vegetables; your gut also synthesizes vitamin K. A form of vitamin K, phylloquinone, given orally can correct vitamin K deficiency.
A study published in the February 1977 issue of the "South African Medical Journal" reported a connection between vitamin A deficiency and prolonged menstrual bleeding. Researchers reported that vitamin A therapy alleviated menorrhagia in 92 percent of cases. According to Healthwise, the article also reported complete normalization of menorrhagia in 58 percent of women treated in the study by taking 25,000 IU of vitamin A twice a day. However, vitamin A can cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Women who have any chance at all of becoming pregnant absolutely should not take more than 10,000 IU or 3,000 micrograms of vitamin A daily, Healthwise warns. Do not take any supplemental vitamin A without your doctor's approval.
Iron deficiency, a decreased amount of iron carried in the hemoglobin of red blood cells, can both cause menorrhagia and worsen it. Iron deficiency impairs the ability of the uterus to stop excess bleeding, Healthwise reports. The increased blood loss during prolonged menstrual cycles results in an even higher degree of iron deficiency. Excess iron can cause health problems; ask your doctor how much iron to take before starting iron supplementation.
Vitamin C helps build collagen and capillaries, the small blood vessels in the body, according to gynecologist Frederick Jelovsek of Women's Health Resource. Although studies are sparse and mostly dated, vitamin C might help reduce menorrhagia. Doses of 250 to 500 mg, about twice the daily recommended dose, might help, Jelovsek reports.