There are several easy over-the-counter remedies for common menstrual issues like PMS and cramps. One look down the health food store’s supplement aisle can leave one wondering about what they actually need, so here’s an overview of four all-stars that will keep you feeling your best.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for over 300 biological processes including protein synthesis, and muscle and nerve function. Slow digestion, constipation (if you don’t go at least once a day, you’re constipated), menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms all result from too little magnesium. Magnesium also helps contribute to a feeling of overall calm and well-being, and can help with anxiety.
Depleted soil contents of magnesium mean that it’s difficult for us to get enough from our food supply alone. Furthermore, processed foods and sugar can also deplete our nutrient stores. In fact, several studies have shown that as much as 75% of the adult population is deficient in magnesium.
Aim for 200 to 400 mg per day, ideally taken at night before bed. (This and a probiotic are the only supplements I recommend taking daily.) Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Glycinate are two of the most bioavailable forms, which means you’ll get more bang for your buck, so remember to check the back label when you make your purchase.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin our bodies can actually make on their own. Depending on your coloring, you need about 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your arms and legs (sunscreen-free) to make the amount of vitamin D you need to stay healthy. Even a sunblock with SPF 8 will seriously decrease the amount of the vitamin you’re going to make.
This means that for those of us who wear sunscreen religiously, live in cooler climates or in cities where we get less exposure to the sun, supplementation may be necessary. In fact, recent studies show that about 40% of the adult U.S. population has a vitamin D deficiency.
Low vitamin D blocks the production of thyroid hormone, which results in too little progesterone, which is estrogen’s counterpart in a healthy menstrual cycle. Estrogen rules the first half and progesterone rules the second half.
Basically, this can be pretty bad for our monthly cycles, and therefore our fertility, and therefore our health (because fertility is synonymous with optimal health). Upsetting the progesterone-estrogen balance can result in irregular bleeding, PMS, weepiness, short luteal phases, fibroids and infertility. Low thyroid hormone can also contribute to hair loss, pelvic pain, abdominal pain and ovarian cysts.
If you do not get 20 minutes of sun exposure a day on a regular basis, then you may want to consider adding a Vitamin D supplement to your self-care regimen, even on a seasonal basis. Aim for 1,000 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.
Our modern diet and use of antibiotics often create an environment conducive to an imbalance in our good and bad gut bacteria. This can create gas, bloating, indigestion, inflammation, affect our hormonal health and has even been linked to acne and depression.
Probiotic supplements work by adding more of the good guys to your system every day. When choosing a probiotic, make sure that you pick one that displays an expiration date and contains multiple bacteria strains. The different strains should be labeled on the bottle or packaging. Generally, refrigerated probiotics are more effective than their non-refrigerated counterparts.
Evening Primrose Oil
Painful breast swelling and tenderness, as well as cramping during your period may be caused by an excess of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Evening Primrose Oil is an omega-6 fatty acid that is also a series-1 prostaglandin, which is the anti-inflammatory kind. It is also high in gamma-linoleic-acid (GLA), which may help with cramps, PMS, heavy periods, and can help promote overall hormonal balance.
Please note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement for personal health care from a licensed professional practitioner. You should always consult with your physician or healthcare provider before introducing new supplements, particularly if you are on any type of prescription medication. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional or the directions and information on the packaging of supplements discussed herein.