6 Nutrients To Combat PMS & Cramps

28 days goes by waaaay too fast when you’ve got debilitating PMS or cramps. It’s back ALREADY? Am I right? Back in high school, I actually fainted more than once at school from such severe cramps. Yikes! Now, I still get them from time to time, but am a lot more aware of what triggers them. Nine times out of ten, how I’ve treated my body the month leading up will be telling of how good or bad a cycle is.

Perhaps you don’t really get cramps, but are an emotional rollercoaster leading up to that time of the month. Chocolate monster anyone? Whatever it is, before you go popping an entire bottle of Advil, I want to touch on some of the root causes and what some nutrients are that can help with cramps and PMS.

First of all, it’s estimated that 85% of women experience some form of PMS – though there are 300 different symptoms associated with it. So, what we’re going for here is that your symptoms aren’t so bad that you are scheduling a sick day. A mild form of PMS that doesn’t really bother you is no biggie.

While the below nutrients are important, there are certain things that will contribute to significantly worse symptoms – and you’ve probably seen them before! 😉

  • Alcohol (ugh, I know…) raises estrogen levels and high estrogen to progesterone ratios can contribute to worse cramping
  • Inflammatory foods…primarily the ones you are intolerant or sensitive to, but here are some specific to hormones: gluten, dairy, cane sugar and processed meats
  • Stress (just like anything…)increases cortisol levels, which can cause a ‘steal’ of progesterone, increasing your estrogen to progesterone ratio

If you are able to test your hormones through a saliva & blood spot combination, you will get a really nice baseline of where your hormones are at. In the mean time though, if you are deficient in any of the below nutrients, even the perfect diet and stress management might not be enough:

Essential Fatty Acids

It’s not just glowing skin that you want your EFAs for! Essential fatty acids (Omega 3s & 6s) are incredibly ANTI-inflammatory, and often times inflammation is at the root of many hormonal imbalances. Take 2,000 mg/day of a good quality fish oil, like NutraSea.

Some great foods that are high in EFAs are salmon, mackerel and herring.

Magnesium

I’ve got a specific blog post coming JUST on magnesium because I see such good results using it with clients, but magnesium is a ‘calming’ nutrient. It can relax muscles and often PMS is a sign of deficiency. Take 600mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate, depending if you need any extra help with digestion (citrate will help keep things moving too), before bed.

Some great foods that are high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, sesame seeds and quinoa!

Calcium

For this nutrient, it doesn’t mean you need to supplement with it. Rather, increasing your plant based sources of calcium, like salmon & sardines with bones in them, collard greens, kale and bak choy. PS – Did you know that studies show calcium from kale is more absorbed than calcium from cow’s milk?

Vitamin B6

Your B vitamins are absolutely critical for so many processes in the body. As it relates to PMS, vitamin B6 must be present for 5HTP or tryptophan to convert to serotonin. Serotonin provides you with calm, happy feelings. The B vitamins work synergystically, so I recommend taking a B complex. B vitamins are also effective at supporting the liver’s breakdown of estrogen.

Some great foods that are high in vitamin B6 include tuna, turkey, beef (grass fed), chicken, sweet potatoes and bananas!

Zinc

There is a correlation between women that suffer from PMS and Zinc deficiency. Zinc supports the immune system and can also lower estrogen production.

One of my favourite ways to get more Zinc is with Buck a Shuck oysters! For my Vancouver readers, Chewie’s anyone? Beef (grass fed), sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and lentils are all good sources of zinc.

Vitamin E

Last, but certainly not least, is vitamin E. Vitamin E is one of the antioxidants and is known for boosting progesterone production (in a good way), and if you remember that many PMS symptoms come from a high estrogen to progesterone ratio, boosting progesterone may be critical for you to relieve symptoms.

Some great food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and avocado!

Stay tuned for next week’s hormone post all about fertility and coming off the birth control pill!

If you are struggling with hormonal imbalances, book a time to chat with me, at no charge, here.

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