science

What Supplements can Help Ease Your PMS Symptoms? Mood, Cramps, and More

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

7 min read

Woman laying down with her hand on her stomach

Do you suffer from PMS and want to know ways to reduce its effects and lessen those symptoms during this time? We’re exploring helpful options and solutions.

PMS can mean every month experiencing frustrating, sometimes debilitating symptoms. Mood changes can feel like an emotional rollercoaster between anxiety, irritability, and sadness. The physical symptoms can be both uncomfortable and inconvenient. However, there are some changes to diet and lifestyle that may help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. Let’s dive in to look for a solution to this issue.

What is PMS?

PMS is short for Premenstrual Syndrome. According to a recent study by Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Medicine, PMS creates both psychological and physical symptoms that can inhibit someone’s daily functioning. Because there is currently no way to physically diagnose the syndrome, there have been few medical advancements in treatments. This research shows that 95 percent of women are affected by premenstrual symptoms, while 8-20 percent are affected by premenstrual syndrome. PMS symptoms typically begin around five days before a menstrual period begins and last for several more days during menstruation.

What are the symptoms of PMS?

Symptoms of PMS are varied. However, many people may experience mood swings, breast tenderness, fatigue, food cravings, and acne flare-ups. Some other problems include headaches, crying spells, changes in sex drive, irritability, and weight gain. For most people, these symptoms are relatively mild. However, these symptoms can cause severe pain and emotional distress for a small percentage of menstruating people. While science has not been able to pinpoint what causes PMS, some triggers are believed to be hormones and chemical changes in the body.

What lifestyle choices make PMS worse?

While many menstruating people may experience mild forms of PMS monthly, some things may make PMS worse in those who usually experience mild symptoms. Some behaviors that can worsen your PMS include:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Consuming too much coffee
  • Eating too much, especially highly processed foods
  • High unmanaged stress levels
  • Not getting enough rest or quality sleep
  • Low vitamin D
  • Lack of exercise
  • Low calcium intake

If you want to reduce the effect PMS has on you each month, consider some small diet and lifestyle adjustments. Additionally, it may be helpful to incorporate specific supplements into your diet.

Calcium for PMS

While calcium may be a supplement best known for healthy bones and teeth, it may also be useful for those who experience symptoms of PMS. Consuming calcium supplements may help reduce bloating, fatigue, psychological problems, sadness, and irritability. A recent study concluded that calcium helps support a balanced mood during menstruation. It is ideal to take in about 500 mg of calcium per day. The daily recommended allowance for most women is between 1,000 and 1,300 mg.

Magnesium for PMS

Another helpful supplement to consume during menstruation is magnesium. Like calcium, it helps with strong bones. But it is much more essential to muscle development, nerve function, and energy function. People who consume at least 360 mg of magnesium daily may experience less bloating, fluid retention, and breast tenderness. Research has shown that combining a magnesium supplement with vitamin B6 can have the most benefits.

Vitamin B-6 for PMS

If you suffer from the emotional symptoms of PMS, you’ll be happy to learn that Vitamin B-6 may help ease these symptoms. Vitamin B-6 is also known as Pyridoxine or pyridoxal phosphate in its most active form. B-6 is a cofactor for the enzymes that help process hormones like estrogen. In addition, B-6 helps with producing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which can both contribute to positive feelings. Psychological symptoms of PMS can include moodiness and irritability. If you suffer from these symptoms and want more vitamin B-6 in your diet, it is a good idea to include tuna, salmon, or fortified cereals. Otherwise, supplements can provide the vitamin B-6 you need. The recommended daily dose for those under 50 is 1.3 milligrams, while the recommended dose for those over 50 can range from 1.5 to 1.7 milligrams.

Omega 3 fatty acids for PMS

You may have heard that Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for supporting heart health. These essential fatty acids can also manage cholesterol levels and maintain healthy blood flow and blood vessels. Omega 3 fatty acids may also be great for helping reduce symptoms of PMS. In addition, these fatty acids can help manage lack of focus and promote a balanced mood. In this study, 50 women were divided into two groups. The first group received two oral doses of 1 gram capsules of omega-3 supplementation for two months whereas the other group received a placebo. Premenstrual syndrome symptoms in both groups were assessed by self-reported questionnaires before and after giving medications. The symptoms and severity significantly decreased in the group that was given omega 3s.

Vitamin E for PMS

Vitamin E is an ideal vitamin for reproductive health. For instance, with its antioxidant properties it may help support fertility by combating oxidative stress. Vitamin E at 100mg can also help with PMS symptoms. Some women in the study reported improvements with cramping and cravings after supplementing in comparison to the placebo group.

Chasteberry for PMS

Chasteberry comes from the chaste tree, which is native to areas in the Mediterranean and Asia. Vitex agnus-castus is the scientific name, but it’s commonly called chasteberry because of its reputation for slowing down the libido. The fruit can be used in a tea or via herbal supplements and works by getting the body to produce more progesterone, helping to create more hormone balance. It may help reduce breast discomfort experienced during PMS. It may also help with mood swings, headaches, and sleeping disruptions.

Vitamin D for PMS

When you were young, you may have been told to get plenty of Vitamin D. That is because vitamin D is essential for helping the bones to absorb calcium and grow strong. Calcium and Vitamin D are critical to bone growth for children and adolescents. But did you know this vitamin can be just as crucial for PMS symptoms? It is ideal for helping with frequent cramps and pelvic discomfort that occur during your period. Research shows that, when paired with calcium, it can also help with PMS symptoms, although this research suggests that more clinical trials are needed. Getting about 400 IU of Vitamin D is ideal for helping to combat PMS symptoms.

Best supplements for PMS mood swings

Many supplements can assist with various facets of PMS symptoms. But if you suffer from mood swings, specifically, you may want to concentrate on taking those supplements that can control your moodiness, such as:

Before starting any supplements or herbal remedies, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor first to avoid any potential drug interactions.

Best foods for PMS

So what should you eat or not eat when you want to minimize PMS symptoms? For starters, according to a recent study, there may be an association between those who experienced PMS symptoms and their diet. Those who reported consuming alcoholic beverages and foods high in sugar, also reported more severe PMS symptoms. Therefore, it would be a good idea not to consume too many sweets or too many alcoholic drinks. Additionally, it may also be beneficial to avoid or minimize salt and caffeine consumption. But it’s not just about avoiding certain foods. There are several foods that can help reduce the effects of PMS, including:

  • Yogurt
  • Kale
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Bananas
  • Turkey
  • Whole grains
  • Fortified cereals

Ultimately, foods high in calcium and B6 may be able to help minimize monthly PMS problems.

Other natural ways to treat PMS

Besides taking supplements, another way to minimize PMS is with lifestyle changes, such as stress management. Some natural methods include getting plenty of exercise, such as swimming, walking, or jogging. Yoga can help reduce stress while giving the body a workout. There’s also evidence to support the idea that yoga can help decrease the symptoms of PMS. A few other alternative therapies that may be worth trying for PMS include acupuncture, massage therapy, and aromatherapy.

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