Calcium supplementation and PMS
Foods such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fortified foods should always be the primary source of dietary calcium. However, according to the latest government nutrition study, the majority of women do not consume enough of these foods to meet even half of the 1,200 mg daily calcium level taken by the women in this study in addition to their basic nutritional intake. For these women, it is recommend that they take a calcium supplement to make up the difference.
Why might calcium help PMS?
calcium supplementation may work to replenish decreased blood and tissue calcium levels in the body associated with shifts in calcium-sensitive hormones during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. It is interesting to note that prolonged calcium deficiency results in irritability and other effects that are similar to those experienced in PMS.
Calcium and Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
While calcium is an essential nutrient needed by everyone to maintain health, it cannot replace therapy intended for or needed by women whose symptoms significantly impair and deteriorate their social, emotional and physical functioning, or women who may have underlying clinical depression. It is estimated that 3-5% of women have PMDD that may require prescription drugs or surgery to relieve their symptoms and control their condidtion. A physician's diagnosis and care in these cases is crucial.
Is PMS a warning sign/risk factor for the development of osteoporosis?
During the menstrual cycle, the hormones that regulate calcium levels also seem to interact with reproductive hormones. It may be that if a woman is not getting enough dietary calcium, it causes an imbalance between these hormones, contributing to, and possibly intensifying, her PMS symptoms. PMS may also represent an important signal that a woman is chronically calcium deficient, something known to be a risk factor in the development of osteoporosis.
What happens during the menstrual cycle to cause women to have PMS?
It's important to note that every woman goes through normal hormonal changes during her menstrual cycle, whether she experiences PMS or not. Research shows that physical manifestations of these changes, what we call "PMS," seem to appear most predominantly during the luteal phase, which follows immediately after ovulation. During the luteal phase, the 14 days before menstruation, a woman's body is gradually preparing to shed the lining of the uterus because there is no fertilized egg. The changes are caused by a natural, normal fluctuation in hormones. And these hormones can cause physiological changes in a woman's body, and in some women these changes are simply more pronounced. And low body calcium may be a contributing factor. Remember, the menstrual cycle is a part of the reproductive cycle, and any physical or emotional manifestations that appear are just as natural and normal as the changes a woman's body undergoes during pregnancy or menopause.
How does calcium compare to other natural remedies, such as Vitamin B6 or evening primrose oil, in reducing PMS?
There is not enough solid data to support the idea that there are significant and consistent benefits from Vitamin B6 or evening primrose oil compared to placebo. If premenstrual effects, either physical, emotional or both are incapacitating, you should see your doctor.