How to Efficiently Manage Premenstrual Syndrome.

If you start taking good vitamin supplements just after your previous menstruation and before the next, your calcium level will stay at its highest for longer than a few hours — that means fewer cramps for you.

Famasi Africa's Menstrual Care Box
Famasi Africa's Menstrual Care Box

The period between premenstrual and menstrual cycles can be challenging for women of childbearing age. I'd know because I often take breaks from work to care for emotional breakdowns during my menstrual cycle.

Some of my friends' favourite foods become a plague to avoid. One always needs walking assistance due to the pain she experiences. But it wasn't just during menstruation alone.

There are also feelings of discomfort in days leading to the next menstrual period. Cramps and pains cause discomfort in the lower abdomen, headaches or migraines, backaches, mood swings, bloating, irritability, fatigue, or tender breasts.

All of these are symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome, otherwise known as PMS. They often go on for days, and the best way to significantly reduce the pain is by using specific vitamins for needed relief.

This article will discuss the most efficient ways to manage Premenstrual Syndrome and why you shouldn't only take vitamins during your menstrual cycle.

Why you should be taking vitamins before your period

A screenshot from an unboxing of Famasi Africa's Memstrual Health box.

The best time to take supplements for menstrual pains is right after your first day of menstruation. Your body absorbs it better, and the vitamins will stay in your system for a more extended period, which means less discomfort in the future.

Vitamins are essential for women to take because they help with hormonal changes. But they're not only beneficial during your period. When you take vitamins before and after your menstrual cycle, you'll have the correct levels of nutrients in your body, helping you decrease pains associated with menstruation, such as cramps or headaches.

When you use vitamins before your menstruation and during pregnancy months several weeks before your next cycle begins, you'll feel healthier and may even notice improvements with issues such as acne.

Taking zinc supplements, particularly days after ovulation, will help reduce pains within 24 hours. But hey, there are other vitamins you should also befriend before your next menstrual cycle.

What vitamins do you need to take before your menstrual cycle?

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski / Unsplash

Some of the most common vitamin deficiencies that women suffer from during menstruation include iron and calcium deficiency, folic acid (B-vitamin), Vitamin D, and E.

You've probably noticed you gain more weight around your stomach and thighs whenever you're menstruating. Taking Vitamin B-6 helps reduce the water retention responsible for such weight gain.

And it's also difficult to walk for some women as they need extra hands to steady their movements. My aunt has one of those walking sticks that grandparents use.

Part of the effects of menstrual cycle is that your bone gets weak. Magnesium deficiency decreases the calcium levels in your blood — which is the main component of bones.

Since you're losing minerals, magnesium in your blood becomes low. Magnesium is essential for bone health, muscle function, and energy production. It further helps maintain cognitive functions like memory formation.

Magnesium glycinate increases magnesium levels in your body and can be better absorbed than other forms of magnesium, such as citrate or taurate. The best way to benefit from this supplement is by taking it consistently throughout each month without significant gaps between doses — especially if you suffer from severe PMS anxiety. You can take 200mg twice daily for 30 days.

Vitamin B — including folic acid and vitamin B12 — is essential for neurotransmitter regulation. This section controls our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, so women deficient in this vitamin tend to experience depression as part of their menstrual symptoms.

It also reduces your cravings by regulating blood sugar levels. Vitamin B-complex is essential because it's a natural remedy that works with your body instead of against it like prescription medicine does.

The recommended dosage is 200mg/day, but up to 1000 mg per day has also been effective in clinical trials. Depending on your symptoms, you can take the Vitamin B supplement daily for 30 days or once every other month. You can also include at least 400mcg of Folate — a natural form of Vitamin B9.

Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to higher weakened bones, fatigue, muscle weakness, and muscle cramps. When you're deficient in Vitamin D, your body will not absorb calcium efficiently. Remember I said calcium is the main component of our bones?

If you start taking good vitamin supplements just after your previous menstruation and before the next, your calcium level will stay at its highest for longer than a few hours — that means fewer cramps.

Don't forget to drink lots of water, though, as no good vitamin supplement is worth anything if you don't stay hydrated.

How to choose vitamins according to your diet

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Photo by Engin Akyurt / Unsplash

Our bodies are designed to be self-cleaning. But the same way your brain is what you feed, it is how nothing beats a healthy meal.

An excellent menstrual diet will help your body regulate itself and reduce the potential risks of having some kind of disorder or deficiency.

For example, if you have a very low iron count during menstruation, it's best to take a rich Vitamin A and C diet to help absorb iron into your blood cells.

Vitamin B is good for fatigue because it helps red blood cell formation, which means more oxygen in the body to feel energised all day. The two most important ones are vitamin D and E as they affect mood swings — they decrease irritability by keeping your serotonin levels high.

Serotonin is a hormone that maintains balance in your body. It regulates your mood, sleep, eating, and digestion.

And what about taking calcium? (Or you've forgotten?) Calcium keeps your muscles healthy and bones strong throughout the menstrual cycle, ensuring fewer cramps or pains associated with periods.

But remember not to overdose on medication or supplements, as overdosing may lead to side effects (and we don't want that).

How to take vitamins before your menstrual cycle

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Photo by Adam Nieścioruk / Unsplash

By now, it's clear that vitamins are essential for your overall health and can make a big difference in how you feel throughout your menstrual cycle. Some vitamins may not only help with cramps but could also reduce mood swings, fatigue, acne flare-ups, and bloating before your menstruation starts.

You should take the following vitamins on an empty stomach at least one hour after breakfast or lunch to get the best absorption into your body:

  • Vitamin B complex (B vitamins) — helps improve energy levels, decreases PMS symptoms like irritability & confusion; it's very effective against water retention, which causes some women to gain weight just before their period. For pregnant women, this supplement is beneficial because of increased nutritional needs during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) — essential in reducing symptoms like cramps, swelling, and bloating; it can also improve blood circulation, especially helpful for women with menstrual complications.
  • Vitamin D — helps you absorb calcium & magnesium better, and both are essential minerals during your menstrual cycle.
  • Calcium citrate/carbonate — also prevents premenstrual water retention and reduces breast tenderness and mood swings related to PMS symptoms like irritability, depression, or anger; this mineral also relaxes muscles so you'd have less tension from menstrual pain. And it's very effective against post-menstruation headaches too! Remember to take calcium at least one hour before breakfast because it takes time for your body to absorb the nutrient.
  • Vitamin B12 —  helps maintain healthy nerve cells and supports red blood cell production, which is vital during your period; vitamins also play an essential role in keeping women's overall health and well-being before menstruation starts.

Can I take multivitamins during menstruation?

Yes, you can take multivitamins during your period, but there are a few things to be conscious of. For example, it's best not to take calcium and iron supplements simultaneously as they can cancel each other out due to iron absorption into your blood cells.

Therefore, you should space the consumption of those two or take them a few hours apart. If you plan to eat a high-calcium meal like yogurt, make sure to eat something that doesn't contain any kind of iron an hour before (e.g., grapefruit).

And if you experience constipation during your period, it's also best not to take both minerals together to avoid clashing.

Another thing to be wary of is your intolerance to specific ingredients that may cause nausea or diarrhea. This is why it's not only advisable to know the brands you're using but to avoid self-medication because what works for other people may not work for you.

It's also why we've set aside dedicated care specialists who will help you if you need more personalisation for your menstrual health package. You can grab your package here.

Healthy Tips for Managing Premenstrual Syndrome

  • Take daily prenatal vitamin supplements throughout pregnancy and continue during breastfeeding.
  • Keep a food diary to prevent nutrient deficiencies like iron deficiency anemia (IDA). A food diary will help identify if your diet needs improvement or if supplementation is required.
  • Make time for exercise because it helps with mood disorders by reducing stress levels that cause Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Even just 20 minutes of exercise three times per week should be fine.

Before you go...

It's never too late to start taking the vitamins you need because nutritional intake before and after menstruation is significant for your overall well-being.

While it's true that you can get all your daily nutrients from food alone, there are some vitamins and minerals you won't get in large amounts without taking a supplement.

And these supplements are essential for you because they help curb the adverse effects of Premenstrual Syndrome.

If you want to feel more relief during your next cycle, get your menstrual care package now.