The top supplements(vitamins and minerals) that help with potentially relieving period pain
Let's be real: period pain is not awesome. For many people who menstruate, it's not just about the cramps, which are caused by your uterus contracting so it can shed its lining. Periods also come with headaches (mine like to show up right when I'm about to stop bleeding), and lower back pain. These can often be addressed with painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but there are also supplements and vitamins that can ease the discomfort, address issues like inflammation, and help you maintain important things like muscle mass. Here's what you should know about them-in addition to the fact that you can get them all at BINTO!
Vitamin B6 helps your body make serotonin and norepinephrine, two hormones that help boost your mood and manage your stress levels. Research suggests that B6 can mitigate morning sickness as well as ginger. In a clinical study, B6, also called pyridoxine,was shown to alleviate the emotional symptoms of PMS, such as depression and irritability.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is what enables your body to use carbs as energy, and also helps your nerves, heart and muscle to function. When combined with fish oil (see below for more info on that), B1 has a positive effect on menstrual cramps, also called dysmenorrhea.
Vitamin B12 keeps your nerve and blood cells healthy, prevents a certain kind of anemia, and helps you make DNA. If you have super heavy periods (investigate with your doctor why this might be happening), you may be given B12 as part of a daily vitamin to help you rebuild red blood cells. A Danish study suggests that, when combined with fish oil, B12 can relieve discomfort associated with period pain.
Magnesium is really busy - it's involved in regulating muscle and nerve function (it's a natural muscle relaxer), blood pressure, blood glucose, and heart rhythm, as well as in developing bones. There's research to suggest that a magnesium supplement can help relieve anxiety associated with PMS. When combined with B6, it may also alleviate menstrual cramps.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. It supports brain function for folks of all ages. You can find DHA in fish oil - see above for information on combining B vitamins with it. Omega-3s can aid in decreasing inflammation, and therefore may help diminish menstrual cramps, and a study released in 2011 suggests that fish oil may actually be more effective in relieving cramps than ibuprofen.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D actually exists in very few foods, but it's super important. It ensures the absorption of calcium, which is needed for bone growth. Calcium supports bone structure and function, and it's also required for muscle function. When Vitamin D and calcium are combined with metformin (a medicine that treats Type 2 Diabetes and is often given to folks with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), they've been shown to manage symptoms of PCOS such as irregular periods and excessive hair growth. Because Vitamin D has anti inflammatory properties, it may relieve cramps when a high dose of D-3 is taken, since it decreases the production of prostaglandins, a hormone like substance that may be the reason we have cramps in the first place. A 2017 study indicates that taking calcium on its own can also relieve menstrual pain.
By now, there's a ton of evidence suggesting that gut health is related to our overall health. Can it also help with period pain? Because estrogen circulates throughout your entire body, it can get trapped and reactivated by a certain kind of intestinal bacteria. When you have too much estrogen, that can result in a heavy period. Lactobacillus acidophilus can help reduce the activity of that intestinal bacteria. There's also research implying that probiotics have a positive impact on stress, depression and anxiety, which we know have a tendency to amp up during your period.
Written by Chanel Dubofsky, a freelance women's health writer living in Brooklyn, NY.