During menstruation, many women face uncomfortable symptoms which can impact quality of life. Research suggests that fluctuating hormones and changes during the period may result in a need for increased nutrient intake. Some nutrients and supplements may, therefore, be beneficial for reducing the severity of these side effects.
Read on to discover which period supplements to incorporate to help ease symptoms at that time of the month.
What Is The Menstrual Cycle?
The menstrual cycle is a span of approximately 28 days in which hormonal changes prepare the body for pregnancy. This cycle may last more or less than 28 days, depending on the individual. Normal cycles may range from 21-35 days (1).
Fluctuations in hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone cause the uterus lining to thicken. During ovulation, an egg (ovum) is released from the ovaries. If the ovum is not fertilised, the body sheds the uterus lining and ovum during the menstrual period (2).
Why Do Some People Have Period Cramps?
Period cramps can occur in the days leading up to menstruation, and continue for several days. They are caused by increased hormones, such as prostaglandin, which is responsible for uterine contractions and shedding. Higher levels of prostaglandin leads to more severe period cramps. While uncomfortable, these cramps are very common, and most women will experience them at some point (2).
Should I Take Supplements On My Period?
While not everyone experiences period pain or cramps, other symptoms can put a dampener on normal daily living. Bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, diarrhoea, low libido and mood swings are all commonly experienced during a period. However, there may be some benefits to taking supplements during this time of the month, for both period cramps and other symptoms.
Some of the best supplements you can take on a period include:
- Vitamin B6
- Omega 3
Vitamin B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity and helps produce energy from food. It is a water-soluble vitamin found in a variety of food sources, such as poultry, tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, brown rice, chickpeas, and dark, leafy greens.
Research suggests that vitamin B6 supplementation may reduce pre-menstrual syndromes (PMS) symptoms such as period cramps, back pain, low mood, and anxiety. Furthermore, vitamin B6 is known to boost hair, skin and nail health, reduce tiredness and fatigue, and support red blood cell formation. This is particularly important during menstruation, especially for those who lose a lot of blood (3).