5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

Let me be clear. All nutrients are beneficial and serve their purpose at different times. I am also a big proponent of individualized nutrition based on what a person’s specific needs are. With that said, these 5 nutrients are my personal findings and round up of what can help most women with various symptoms during their menstrual phase.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that has been shown to reduce symptoms for both PMS and menopause. During your luteal and menstrual phases, a magnesium supplement, foods rich in magnesium, and even magnesium oil or lotion can help relax the smooth muscles of your uterus, decrease inflammatory prostaglandins (the hormone-like lipids that cause contractions and cramps), reduce headaches and breast tenderness, and even help curb sugar cravings.

In terms of hormonal balance, magnesium is needed for the production of TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, which is responsible for your body’s metabolism. In addition, it aids in blood sugar balance and estrogen detoxification. Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely to be magnesium-deficient, and those with diabetes or an autoimmune disease are also at high risk for deficiency.

Women want to aim for 400mg of magnesium per day.

Here are some food sources rich in magnesium: 

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • soymilk
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • dark chocolate

As for supplements, magnesium in the forms of aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride are more bioavailable and readily absorbed than magnesium oxide and sulfate. I was just recommended magnesium oil from Ancient Minerals and will report back after a few months of using it.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with bloating, uterine inflammation, migraines, and even mood swings. In a study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome and irregular periods, an omega 3 supplement was given at 3g/day for 8 weeks. This resulted in decreased elevated testosterone and androgen levels with a regulation of menses in the omega 3 group.

In another study, women took 1,000mg of fish oil/day. The experimental group reported less menstrual pain than the comparative group who took the pain reliever, ibuprofen.

Here are some food sources rich in omega-3s: 

  • fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel)
  • nuts and seeds
  • fortified foods (I have been using this Silk oat, almond, and pea milk blend infused with DHA omega-3s!)

Zinc

Supplementing with 30mg of zinc 1-3x daily during your luteal and menstrual phases can significantly reduce (if not manage or eradicate dysmenorrhea- period pain!). Zinc can also block androgen production, such as testosterone, which helps in treating acne and reducing excess facial hair.

Here are some food sources rich in zinc: 

  • oysters
  • shellfish (crab and lobster)
  • red meat (I recommend organic, grass fed and pasture-raised)
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds- especially pumpkin seeds!
  • eggs
  • whole grains

B vitamins, specifically B6 and B12

It’s a toss up between which B vitamin is more important to focus on. Both B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, which as we know can be rampant during our luteal and menstrual phases. Here are the main contributors of each.

B6 can help regulate periods, so if your cycle is irregular, I would recommend incorporating foods that contain more of this B vitamin. B6 also helps minimize bloating and has the ability to produce amino acids, which is needed more during your bleed for replenishment and to avoid muscle catabolism.

Here are some food sources rich in B6: 

  • pork.
  • poultry, such as¬†chicken¬†or turkey
  • some fish (cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna and snapper)
  • peanuts
  • soy¬†beans
  • wheatgerm
  • oats
  • bananas

B12 largely contributes to red blood cell formation, which is also crucial during this time.Since we are losing blood and iron, new red blood cells are needed to help carry oxygen throughout the body and keep energy levels high.

Here are some food sources rich in B12: 

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • eggs milk

Iron

Last but not least is iron. About 70% of our body’s iron is found in red blood cells. When we bleed during menses, we lose blood and, therefore, red blood cells and iron. It is important to replenish this mineral, as to avoid iron depletion or anemia. Women need approximately 1.8 mg of iron/day. If you donate blood, you lose about 200 mg of iron, and those breastfeeding and postpartum can lose up to 700 mg. Breastfeeding mamas need to increase their iron intake by 0.5-1mg/day.

P.S. Iron is better absorbed in the company of vitamin C, so add peppers, citrus juice, broccoli or tomatoes to your meals with iron-containing foods. Using iron pots can also increase iron levels! We only absorbed 10-30% of iron, so keep that in mind when measuring and accounting for your food. 

Here are some food sources rich in iron: 

  • lean beef
  • veal
  • poultry
  • pork
  • lamb
  • liver
  • fish and shellfish
  • greens
  • tofu
  • lima beans
  • legumes and lentils

Summary

Upping your nutrient consumption game is a great strategy in preventing or treating PMS and menstrual symptoms. From the abundance of research I’ve been doing lately on women’s health (specifically nutrition and phases of the cycle), I found magnesium, omega 3s, zinc, B vitamins (B6 + B12), and iron to be some of the most crucial in alleviating unwanted cramps, headaches, lethargy, acne and more while also replenishing the body with the fuel it needs to process and recover best.

If you have basic nutrition questions, I can answer those for you, but hang on tight for when I become licensed in February to better serve your personal needs. Xo Danielle

Disclaimer: The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical/health advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

5 Nutrients to Support Your Period

Premenstrual and menstrual symptoms can be less than manageable. Heck, I know plenty of women who have such debilitating symptoms, they’ve taken off school or work at some point. That’s crazy. We should be able to use those days for a mental health reset or when we’re actually sick with other illnesses. So, how can we begin to minimize and alleviate these symptoms to save our sick and PTO days?¬†Nutrition is one of the large pieces to completing this puzzle. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Water

Did you know that water is a nutrient? It sure is! It’s okay if you didn’t, but is it that much of a surprise? We NEED water to survive, and our bodies are made of 60-70% of the stuff! When we are properly hydrated during our periods, we decrease our chances of cramping. This is because we aren’t retaining water and decrease bloating. Water can also help with muscle function, which the uterus is! (well, partly).

2. Omega-3s

Consuming foods high in omega 3s (fatty fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, etc.) has been proven to reduce menstrual pain, help with depression and mood swings, and is a great support for brain health which may help with lessening the incidence of headaches!¬Ļ

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice known for its unique flavor in Middle Eastern dishes, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to be used as a clothing dye. Ya, it stained my nails from dinner last night…the only downside, but I digress. The antioxidant compound in turmeric is called curcumin. In larger doses, curcumin has been shown to reduce oxidative muscle damage and aid in healing and recovery by decreasing inflammation. This can help with period cramps since the uterus is a muscular organ.

*HOT TIPS* If you don’t like the taste of turmeric, you can purchase a turmeric supplement. Just make sure that black pepper (pepperdine) is present in the formula because it makes it more bioavailable and easier to absorb for us! Same goes for when you are cooking with turmeric or even make a turmeric “golden” latte- add a pinch of pepper!

4. Iron

Iron is the number one nutrient women are deficient in, partially because we lose iron when we menstruate through blood. Here are some great food sources to add to your diet to receive proper amounts of iron:

  • grass-fed beef
  • lentils & legumes
  • shellfish
  • liver & organ meats
  • turkey
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • dark chocolate
  • tofu¬Ļ

**HOT TIP** consuming vitamin C increases iron bioavailability. Example: bell peppers with tofu- yum!

5. Magnesium

Studies have shown that magnesium both eases period cramps and decreases the prostaglandins (lipids that act like hormones) that cause those contractions and cramping. So not only does magnesium alleviate the symptoms, but it addresses one of the root causes.

Foods high in magnesium include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • nuts and seeds
  • tofu
  • whole grains¬≤

Nutrition can greatly influence how our body operates and feels, with menstrual symptoms being no exception. Water, omega 3s, turmeric, iron, and magnesium are nutrients that can aid in cramp and unfavorable symptom reduction. Please consult with your doctor if you are currently taking any medications to avoid food/drug interactions, and feel free to reach out with questions with how to incorporate these into your diet!

Disclaimer: The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical/health advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Resources

1.Ferguson, S. (2019, July 16). What to Eat During Your Period: Fish, Leafy Greens, Yogurt, and More. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/what-to-eat-during-period

2. Spritzler, F. (n.d.). 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium

Let’s Talk About PMS.

PMS. It is the dreaded acronym to every woman who has ever experienced it. PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It is a condition that can alter your emotional, mental, physiological AND physical states. Did you know that PMS symptoms are not normal? I didn’t either up until this past year. I bought into the story we’re told as young girls that PMS is part of it all. This is FALSE! Think about it. Our bodies are so intricately designed to perform on an optimal cellular level to keep us alive. Why would it fail us when it comes to reproductive health?

Pre-, meaning before, and menstrual, meaning your period, means that PMS is experienced the week leading up to your bleed. Signs and symptoms can range from mood swings to extreme physical discomfort. Refer to the list below for the slew of possible signs and symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of PMS

  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • bloating
  • acne
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • sore breasts
  • food cravings
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • heightened senses to light, smell, taste
  • skin sensitivity
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • depression
  • behavioral changes¬Ļ

*Among many others. PMS has been associated with nearly 200 hundred signs and symptoms! Every woman experiences this differently.

On average, 47.8% of women experience chronic PMS symptoms. The highest recorded prevalence rate was 98%.²

These numbers are staggeringly high for a syndrome that shouldn’t be making an appearance at all, let alone every 21 days. So what is the cause of PMS that is plaguing women on a global scale?

Possible Causes of PMS

  • hormonal fluctuations/imbalances
  • neurotransmitter changes
  • anemia
  • endometriosis
  • thyroid disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • connective tissue or rheumatologic diseases¬Ļ
  • eating disorders
  • vitamin or mineral deficiencies

Ways To Treat Symptoms

  1. First and foremost, you know I’m going to suggest reevaluating your diet. Removing or minimizing fast food, foods high in sodium and saturated fats, sugar, caffeine and alcohol should be your first move. It doesn’t sound fun, but let’s focus on what you can ADD to your diet. Adding foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms.

These foods include:

  • dark chocolate (woohoo! Just make sure it’s over 70% and low in sugar)
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • salmon
  • wheat germ
  • black cohosh (a medicinal root, also found as a supplement, shown in some studies to help relieve menopause and PMS symptoms)
  • low-sugar yogurt
  • citrus fruits
  • bananas
  • brown rice
  • shellfish
  • legumes

Just to name a few…

2. Secondly, moving your body can help relieve symptoms, boost endorphins, and even metabolize excess estrogen that could be the culprit of some symptoms. Walking or doing light yoga is ideal during this time of your cycle, but you choose a form of movement that feels good for you.

3. Drunk up, buttercup! Staying hydrated can help with bloating, water retention, and abdominal pain. Aim to drink 1mL for every calorie you consume, or from 1,500-2,000mL (1.5-2L) per day.

4. Mayo Clinic suggests acupuncture as an alternative treatment to relieve symptoms.¬≥ (I can’t wait to try this).

5. Reduce stress to decrease cortisol levels, which has an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. One again, stress management looks different for every individual. Pick a few ways to manage stress that works FOR YOU.

6. Catch those Zzz’s! I’ve said it in many other posts, but sleep is so very important in our overall health and wellbeing. It’s the third pillar of health after diet & exercise. Sleep is when our brains detoxify, which can affect our neurotransmitters! If you recall, neurotransmitter changes (such as a dip in serotonin and dopamine levels) can be one of the root causes of PMS.

6. If holistic measures do not work for you, talking to a doctor about antidepressants, NSAIDs, or diuretics may help those with underlying issues and severe conditions.

Conclusion

If you’ve experienced PMS symptoms and do not want to live with these predictable symptoms anymore, try some of these remedies out. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I am happy to help, and keep in mind that I’ll be accepting nutrition clients come next Feb/March to help alleviate these issues through food!

Take care. Be safe, and stay healthy, friends! ‚̧

Disclaimer: The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical/health advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

References

  1. Higuera, V. (2027, June 05). Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome
  2. A DM, K S, A D, Sattar K. Epidemiology of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Study [published correction appears in J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Jul;9(7):ZZ05]. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(2):106-109. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8024.4021
  3. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2020, February 07). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780