Reduce PMS Symptoms
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It’s no secret that PMS has a bad rap. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and some of us have lived them. Short for premenstrual syndrome, PMS describes the collection of symptoms that women typically experience one to two weeks before their period’s onset, and nearly all menstruating women can say that they’ve had some degree of PMS.
The list of symptoms is surprisingly vast: by some estimates, over 150 symptoms have been attributed to PMS. Common physical symptoms include bloating, cramps, and breast tenderness. Emotional symptoms include irritability, depression, and mood swings. There is no straightforward explanation as to what causes PMS, though it’s often attributed to hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle. While minor symptoms can be merely disruptive, acute symptoms are debilitating. Whatever the severity, PMS is thought of by most as an unwelcome monthly occurrence.
Supplementing for PMS May Be Just What You Need. Although you can’t necessarily erase all signs of PMS, studies show that its symptoms can be reduced through focused attention to diet and supplementation. We’ve read through countless pages of clinical research to find the vitamins and supplements backed by science to help alleviate PMS symptoms.
#1 Calcium Does the Body (and Mind) Good.
Calcium supports your bones and muscles. Calcium deficiency, which poses a serious health risk for women, may contribute to PMS symptoms. In a study published in 2017, a group of college students who reported severe PMS symptoms were given 500 mg of calcium a day over a period of two months. Compared to a placebo group, those taking calcium saw lower symptoms of anxiety, depression, fluid retention, and moodiness. An earlier study produced similar results, finding that depression, fatigue, and change in appetite were significantly lessened for a group who took 500mg of calcium carbonate a day for three months. It’s clear that mood symptoms of PMS have been significantly reduced by increasing daily calcium.
#2 Vitamin D for a Sunnier Outlook.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for calcium absorption as well as for bone health, and many American adults and teens do not get enough of it. In fact, emerging research suggests that it may be just as important as calcium itself. Having inadequate blood levels of vitamin D is common among women who suffer from PMS. A 2005 study measured the risk of developing PMS symptoms alongside levels of calcium and vitamin D. Results indicated a connection and suggest that a high intake of vitamin D and calcium can reduce the risk of developing PMS. As an added bonus, the researchers added that all women stand to benefit from a combination of calcium and vitamin D, which also reduces the risk of osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.
#3 The Magic of Magnesium.
Called a “miracle mineral,” magnesium is essential to health and helps with sleep, energy, bowel regularity, and more. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to PMS and several studies reveal that supplementing with magnesium can aid both physical and emotional symptoms. A double-blind study of 20 patients indicated that magnesium can help prevent and relieve menstrual headaches. A second study found that a group of women taking magnesium along with vitamin B6 had reduced cravings, anxiety, and depression. The magnesium-B6 combination also eased physical symptoms such as water retention, breast pain, bloating, headache, nausea ,and back pain. Several other sources confirm that magnesium can also reduce fluid retention, bloating, and breast tenderness.
#4 Omega-3s are Your New Favorite Healthy Fats.
Omega-3s are vital for overall health, supporting the eyes, heart, joints, and the brain. A double blind study found that taking a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids reduced both physical and emotional symptoms of PMS including depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, headache bloating, and breast tenderness. This is the kind of fat your body thrives on.
Improve PMS Symptoms with the Ancient Wisdom of Herbs. Herbal supplements are another option for those seeking a reprieve from PMS symptoms. These healing herbs have been used for centuries and are often free of the unwanted side effects often associated with prescription treatments and hormones.
Ashwagandha (aka the “chill pill”) is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown to relieve stress and reduce food cravings. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re looking to become pregnant, you should check with a doctor before taking herbal supplements.
#6 Chasteberry Can Reduce Breast Pain.
Chasteberry, also known as vitex, is made from extracts of fruits from the chaste tree. It is widely taken for menstrual symptoms, menopause, infertility, and other women’s hormonal health conditions. Though more research needs to be done on the topic, studies show that it can help with both emotional and physical PMS symptoms (particularly breast pain).
Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, an integrative physician, says, “Most PMS symptoms stem from some degree of estrogen dominance, where a woman has more estrogen relative to progesterone at this key time of the cycle. Vitex is thought to help support a woman’s progesterone level, making it the ideal supplement to consider all month long or just during the second two weeks of the cycle.”
#7 Evening Primrose Oil: An Ancient Panacea.
Evening primrose oil is a supplement made from a yellow flowering plant native to North America. Native Americans commonly used evening primrose oil both as a food and as a panacea for wounds, sore throats, stomach problems, and more. While it is widely known for its ability to help reduce PMS symptoms, there is conflicting evidence about its efficacy. Although it is not yet supported by substantive scientific research, it is said to help with breast tenderness, depression, and mood symptoms associated with PMS.
Moving towards a gentler cycle. The menstrual cycle is a natural part of women’s health, but when you think about it, the combination of PMS and menstrual pain can create up to two weeks of misery every month, a significant amount of time. So if you do feel PMS symptoms that affect your quality of life, it’s a great idea to take steps to manage them and improve your overall well-being.
Strong scientific evidence suggests that the right supplementation can significantly reduce PMS and painful menstrual symptoms. In addition to other improvements to your diet and lifestyle, supplementing can be a promising option for alleviating symptoms so that you can feel better all month long.
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