The menstrual cycle is a normal monthly occurrence for women from puberty until menopause. The cycle prepares a woman's body for pregnancy. Menstruation begins each month when the egg is not fertilized, causing the shedding of the extra lining of the uterus that would otherwise nourish the growing embryo. Women need extra vitamins during their menstrual cycle to feel their best and replenish lost nutrients. The American Pregnancy Association states that normal symptoms associated with menstruation include bloating, fatigue and stress, though vitamins may be able to help relieve some of these symptoms.
According to Dr. Bryant A. Toth, an obstetrician and gynecologist with the New York City-based fertility clinic MacLeod Laboratory, vitamin E can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with premenstrual symptom. Premenstrual syndrome occurs about a week before a woman's monthly period begins, and causes bloating, fatigue and irritability. Toth recommends that women take 400IU of vitamin E a day to combat these symptoms.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a type of anemia called pernicious anemia, which causes extreme fatigue. Since fatigue is common during menstruation, it's important to take B12 supplements or get B12 injections in some cases as to prevent excess fatigue. Vitamin B12 can also help to decrease depressive symptoms that are sometimes associated with pre-menstrual syndrome.
Dr. Emily Kane, an Alaska-based naturopath, acupuncturist and columnist for "Better Nutrition" magazine, states that vitamin B6 allows the brain to produce serotonin adequately, in turn making a woman can feel relaxed rather than depressed. She explains that if a woman doesn't get enough vitamin B6, her body will have a harder time getting rid of excess estrogen in the body. Vitamin B6 can help to reduce bloating and make a woman feel more relaxed before her period.
Vitamin A allows for the proper development of reproductive organs such as the uterus, cervix and vagina. Since vitamin A is an antioxidant, it helps to maintain the strength of the reproductive tissues involved in menstruation. Without an adequate intake of vitamin A, a woman may experience amenorrhea, or cessation of her period.
Is This an Emergency?
- American Pregnancy Association: Menstruation: A Journey Through Your Cycle (2007).
- MacLeod Laboratory: Relief for PMS. None-hormonal therapy for PMS; Vitamins E, Vitamin B-6, Herbal remedies, Primrose oil, Calcium, Magnesium: A Toth.
- Dr. Emily Kane: PMS/Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (2001)
- Oregon State University: Vitamin B12 (2003).