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  • Writer's pictureEmily Lipinski

4 Key Nutrients to Improve Painful Periods

If you experience cramping during your period you are not alone! Did you know that over half of menstruating woman have painful periods? Pain is normally experienced just prior or during the first two days of the menstrual cycle.

Typically, woman feel the pain in the pelvic region, lower back and sometimes it can even radiate down the inner thighs. Pain experienced during period cycles can be debilitating. Top it off with the other PMS symptoms many woman experience (headaches, mood changes, acne and fatigue) and many woman are at a loss about how to improve these monthly challenges.

The good news is, changing your diet and supplementing with various nutrients and vitamins has been shown in some studies to greatly reduce the pain woman experience during “that time of the month”.

Dietary changes are powerful when addressing any health concern. Choosing a whole foods diet (no packaged foods or fast foods) is very important. I know its been said over and over but a diet high in fruits and veggies is key!! From a Chinese medicine perspective, plums and black grapes have extra benefit for woman during "that time of the month" (make sure to buy organic! these fruits are often heavily sprayed). Avoiding sugars and caffeine may also significantly improve menstrual pains. Foods high in calcium and magnesium such as sesame seeds and almonds are also great additions to a healthy diet.

There are 4 main supplements that have shown to be beneficial in not solely alleviating pain, but may also be helpful in reducing mood swings and fatigue associated with a woman’s period.

1. CALCIUM, taken daily, has been shown to reduce both premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual pain and cramping

2. MAGNESIUM, taken daily or during the time of cramping has been shown to help relieve spasms and pain.

3. VITAMIN B6- This vitamin not only helps to reduce stress but also is needed to make beneficial prostaglandins (special chemicals in the body), which may help to reduce menstrual pain.

4. NIACIN (Vitamin B3)- When 100mg of niacin was given every 2-3 hours to 80 woman while they were experiencing menstrual cramps, there was a 90% reduction in their pain!

Stress management, acupuncture and specific herbal remedies also have great benefit in helping to manage PMS and menstrual cramping.

It is important to note that healthy changes take time. When working with natural therapies, it may take up to 3 cycles to truly notice a reduction in pain.

Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about formulating a plan tailored to you.

Happy Cycling!

Dr. E

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