Vitamins and Minerals in the Management of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Source: Cochrane Database Systematic Review (2018)
Lifestyle Medicine Update No 200 (April 22, 2021)
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS affects about one-third of women ages 25-40 years old and for about 10% of women, the symptoms are very severe. Of course, some of the common symptoms include any combination of intense or debilitating menstrual cramps, abdominal bloating, breast pain, joint swelling, food cravings, mood swings, and even depression. Drugs such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, diuretics, and other medications are sometimes prescribed to help treat these symptoms. But these drugs typically treat the symptoms not the cause of the problem. A growing number of published research papers in recent years have shown that the root cause of many PMS cases stems from underlying marginal deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals and that supplementation to correct these deficiencies often eliminates or minimizes many PMS symptoms. As stated in the 2018 Cochrane Database review on this subject, “deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals including vitamin B, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium may play a role in PMS. This hypothesis is based primarily on the high incidence of PMS in populations with low levels of these micronutrients.”
They indicate that magnesium and vitamin B6 status is often low in PMS patients. These nutrients are required for brain synthesis of serotonin – the feel-good brain chemical that is low in cases of depression. Vitamin B6 and magnesium are also required to prevent joint swelling, especially in conjunction with omega-3 fats. Other studies have noted a low intake of vitamin D and calcium in PMS patients compared to women who don’t suffer from PMS. Like vitamin B6 and magnesium, vitamin D also supports brain function and calcium is necessary to prevent the kind of abdominal cramping often seen in PMS. Calcium is also a messenger within cells, which supports the synthesis of ovarian hormones necessary to keep hormones in balance throughout the menstrual cycle. Some clinical trials have shown that supplementation with B-vitamins, magnesium, vitamin E, and-or calcium, as well as certain essential fatty acids (omega-3 fats and GLA-rich -oils like Borage Seed Oil) have helped to improve various physical and brain-associated PMS symptoms, including mood swings and food cravings.
This is the reason I often recommend to PMS patients that they take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral each day that contains a B-50 complex, 200 mg magnesium, 500 mg calcium, 1000 IU vitamin D and everything else from vitamin A to zinc, along with an essential fatty acid supplement containing a combination of Fish, Flaxseed, and Borage Seed Oil). This combination of nutrients can help to correct any underlying marginal deficiencies and it provides key nutrients to support brain chemistry, suppress inflammation and even muscle cramps in some cases. There are also some other important dietary, lifestyle and botanical considerations that are shown to be effective in the management of PMS, which I will review in the next Lifestyle Medicine Update.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
Cochrane Database Systematic Review: Vitamin or mineral supplements for premenstrual syndrome (2018) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491313/#:~:text=Several%20vitamins%20and%20minerals%20including,the%20underlying%20pathogenesis%20of%20PMS
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Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.