Most women accept that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is simply a fact of life. Apart from going on the birth control pill, there isn’t much to be done about the symptoms of PMS, right? Actually, wrong. While PMS symptoms will vary in severity from woman to woman, there are actually some steps you can take to lessen your symptoms, helping you to have a happier, more comfortable period.
The key lies in getting the nutrients that your body naturally becomes deficient in around the time of your period. Here are a few of the vitamins, nutrients and minerals you should be trying to consume before and during your monthly flow.
Right before your period, your body’s stores of magnesium tend to dip. This can lead to changes in mood and brain activity, as magnesium helps regulate the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Magnesium is also important for maintaining your levels of other nutrients, including calcium and potassium, which can lead to their own problems when out of balance.
Some great magnesium sources include leafy greens and chocolate. Yes, chocolate! Many women crave chocolate during their periods because they are deficient in magnesium.
Fiber is important for keeping things moving in your digestive tract, and this is especially beneficial during your period and pre-menstrual phase. Eating fibrous vegetables and whole grains can help combat bloating by promoting regular bowel movements while providing you with plentiful nutrients.
Some studies have suggested that calcium may be a key component to combating PMS symptoms. One study found that women who supplemented with calcium every day for three months had much lower levels of fatigue and mood swings than women who did not, according to Everyday Health. You can get calcium from leafy greens, milk and cheese, and almond milk. Here are 25 vegan sources of calcium.
Fatty acids are vital for food reproductive health, as fats are the building blocks of our hormones. Omega-3s may play a double role in boosting your health during the premenstrual phase, though.
“Albacore tuna, sardines, salmon, mackerel, herring and lake trout are all healthy mood foods because they contain Omega-3 fatty acids,” reports U by Kotex. “Omega-3s can sharpen your thinking and trigger the production of serotonin, a positive mood-enhancer (and incidentally, the same chemical released by the brain when you bite into dark chocolate).”
Vegans can get omega-3s through supplementation, or by sprinkling chia or flax seeds over their meals.
The B-group vitamins play a key role in women’s reproductive health as well, and vitamin B6 is particularly important for that time period right before your monthly flow. One study published in the BMJ found that, although further research is needed, it’s likely that supplementing with vitamin B6 could reduce PMS symptoms.
“Results suggest that doses of vitamin B-6 up to 100 mg/day are likely to be of benefit in treating premenstrual symptoms and premenstrual depression,” the study concluded.
You can get plenty of vitamin B6 by eating lots of legumes, bananas, nuts, poultry, whole grains and avocado, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.