PMS is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms usually begin one to two weeks before your period begins. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS that can be disabling. Symptoms include severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and tension.
Risk factors for PMS and PMDD include:
- Biochemical imbalance: Low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates emotional well-being
- Exposure to environmental toxins and estrogens (xenoestrogens)
- Hormonal imbalance (low thyroid or progesterone levels)
- Nutrient deficiencies in B-vitamins, magnesium, or essential fatty acids
- Poor diet: Eating foods high in sugar, saturated fat, or drinking too much alcohol
- Poor liver function
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
For hormone balance, vitamins and minerals that may help include:
Folic acid (400 micrograms)
Calcium with vitamin D (1000-1500mg)
Magnesium (400 milligrams)
Vitamin B-6 (50 to 100 mg)
Vitamin E (400 international units)
While hormone balance vitamins and minerals can help, the following tips have also been shown to provide relief:
Eating small, frequent meals will help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which will have a positive impact on mood and energy levels.
Foods to include
Several studies have shown that diets low in fat or high in fibre can help reduce PMS symptoms, so eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish. These foods are also good sources of hormone balance vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, which may be depleted in those with PMS.
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) contain indole-3-carbinol, which helps to balance estrogen levels.
- Turkey and salmon contain the amino acid tryptophan, which elevates serotonin production.
Foods to avoid
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause mood swings, irritability, and worsened PMS symptoms.
- Caffeine has been found in studies to worsen PMS symptoms.
- Processed and fast foods often contain chemicals and preservatives that may upset neurotransmitter levels and mood.
- Alcohol is a nervous system depressant and can affect hormone metabolism. It should be minimized or avoided completely.
- Regular exercise can reduce several symptoms of PMS (breast tenderness, fluid retention, depression, and stress). Aim for 30 minutes to one hour of moderate intensity activity daily, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
- Acupuncture may offer benefits for PMS by stimulating the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
- Massage and reflexology help relieve stress and tension, and promote relaxation.
PMS can be a challenge for many women but with the right Hormone Balance vitamins and minerals plus some lifestyle changes PMS can be successfully managed.