Magnesium is an essential mineral for women on their periods because of the effect it can have on symptoms such as cramp and mood swings. Magnesium relaxes the muscles for example, to ease general discomfort in the stomach. This relaxing effect can also, in turn, help to regulate mood swings which often fluctuate during a period.
Many women choose to consume a magnesium supplement to help them through their period but you can also increase your intake of magnesium-filled foods to help symptoms as well.
Pumpkin seeds, spinach, salmon, kale and brown rice are all good sources magnesium but you could also try one of our magnesium-filled recipes. Our tasty apple and spinach smoothie provides a great snack or breakfast drink whilst our spinach & potato curry is the perfect dinner option.
Women going through their period are likely to have low iron levels so at this time it’s important to up your intake of this valuable mineral. Low levels of iron can, after all, lead to issues such as fatigue, dizziness and headaches which will make period symptoms feel worse.
Iron is found in red blood cells within a substance called haemoglobin. Haemoglobin transports oxygen throughout the body and so having too little can leave you feeling tired and low in energy – symptoms that are already brought about by your period.
So, where can you find iron? Well, leafy greens, vegetables, beans, steak and pumpkin seeds are a great place to start.
Zinc is involved in the production of hormones including oestrogen and progesterone. When these hormones rise each month it stimulates the ovaries, bringing on a period. This means that zinc is important in the menstruation process.
There is also some evidence to suggest that zinc could help to ease severe menstrual cramps to allow women to continue with their regular routine. (1) The reasons for this are debated slightly though it could be to do with the anti-inflammatory properties of the mineral.
Oyster, beef, pumpkin seeds and cashew nuts are all great sources of zinc. These can be easily incorporated into snacks such as our coconut and cashew amazeballs, as well as drinks like our cashew and banana smoothie.
Many period symptoms such as cramps and headaches are caused by an inflammatory chemical called prostaglandin. Therefore, as omega 3 is anti-inflammatory, this should help to counteract the problem.
Research has found that women who took fish oils high in omega-3, experienced an improvement in their period symptoms and in their overall period pain. This was in comparison to the control group who consumed “regular” oil and experienced no improvement in their symptoms. (2) Again, researchers put this down to the fact that omega 3 decreases inflammation.
Fish, walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans are all excellent sources of omega 3 but see my blog ‘Period diet: what should you eat?’ for some more information.
The last in my list of vitamins and minerals for menstruating women are B vitamins. Deficiencies in this can lead to fatigue and low mood which we all know are also symptoms of a period. Therefore, the problem is only made worse if you don’t get enough B vitamins.
Also, B vitamins can be lost during bleeding so it’s essential that you top levels up through your diet or, alternatively, a supplement. Marmite, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, tuna, eggs and trout are all excellent sources of B vitamins.
As well as adding these valuable vitamins and minerals to your diet, you can also get through your period comfortably using natural remedies. Agnus castus is made from the berries of the Agnus castus plant and helps to relieve a range of period symptoms such as cramps, irritability, breast tenderness, mood swings and bloating. It's a good choice for women both with short, light cycles, as well as those with longer, heavier cycles too.