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Nutritional Supplements for Premenstrual Syndrome: Do They Work?

Many promote the use of certain vitamins and minerals for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), but controlled studies supporting the use of nutritional supplements are sparse.

There is some literature suggesting that the recommended dose of calcium (600 milligrams twice a day) can help to relieve mild to moderate symptoms of PMS. While it is unclear exactly how calcium works, it appears that levels of calcium regulating hormones fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle.

The data on whether magnesium is useful in treating PMS are limited and uncontrolled. One study did not show a magnesium deficiency in women with PMDD versus controls or a benefit after magnesium supplementation. On the other hand, another study suggested that magnesium supplementation (250 mg) can be helpful for PMS, so we can not make any robust conclusions about the efficacy of magnesium at this time.

Trials of vitamin B6 supplementation have yielded conflicting results, and high doses of vitamin B6 may cause neurological symptoms when taken over prolonged periods of time. Myo-inositol (a member of the vitamin B complex family), was no more effective than placebo in treating PMS in one study.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, women should be taking vitamins and/or supplements, particularly calcium. However, vitamin therapy does not seem to be the answer for women who have severe premenstrual symptoms.

Laura Fagioli Petrillo, MD

Khine K, Rosenstein DL, Elin RJ, Niemela JE, Schmidt PJ, Rubinow DR. Magnesium (Mg) retention and mood effects after intravenous Mg infusion in premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Feb 15;59(4):327-33.

Nemets B, Talesnick B, Belmaker RH, Levine J. Myo-inositol has no beneficial effect on premenstrual dysphoric disorder. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;3(3):147-9.

Quaranta S, Buscaglia MA, Meroni MG, Colombo E, Cella S. Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Clin Drug Investig. 2007;27(1):51-58.

Thys-Jacobs S, Starkey P, Bernstein D, Tian J. Calcium carbonate and the premenstrual syndrome: effects on premenstrual and menstrual symptoms. Premenstrual Syndrome Study Group. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;179(2):444-52.

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3 Responses to Nutritional Supplements for Premenstrual Syndrome: Do They Work?

  1. Christopher Newman September 25, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    If vitamin therapy does not work for severe PMS or even PMDD, what does? Are there any remedies or possible support systems with vitamins or minerals? How about a change in diet.

  2. callie September 20, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    @Christopher Newman

    They do help tremendously, personally exercise has been extremely helpful, in conjunction with major changes to a “clean diet”. No sugars, white breads/grains, caffiene (other than that from green tea), plenty of fruit and veggies. this in combination with vitamins above, and at least 3 exercise days per week seem to make a marked difference, at least personally. also..PLENTY of water!

  3. Nostalrius December 12, 2016 at 3:34 am #

    Really cool article. I read your posts fairly often and you always do a good job articulating the whatever
    topic you’re blogging about. Btw, I shared this on LinkedIn and my followers loved it.
    Keep up the great work!

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