Supplements

Supplements To Manage PMS Symptoms

In the UK, it’s thought that as many as 30% of women suffer with moderate to severe PMS symptoms. That’s around 800,000 women in the UK being affected on a monthly basis.1 

The menstrual cycle is, roughly, a 28-day cycle in which levels of hormones fluctuate to ultimately produce an egg which is able to be fertilised. Nine months after this happens, if you’re fortunate enough to experience no complications, you have yourself a very small human being. 

However, the menstrual cycle (and more so menstruation itself i.e., the period) is not always a fun rollercoaster to be on and can, for many women, have a whole host of changes to both their physical and mental state. 

 

What is Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

This time of the month/cycle is referred to as PMS and starts around a week before your period is typically due. 

Common physical symptoms of PMS include breast tenderness, headaches, musculoskeletal pain, abdominal swelling, swelling of extremities, and weight gain.2 

There are also psychological and behavioural symptoms of PMS that include depression, changes in appetite, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, sleep disturbances, tension, social withdrawal, and poor concentration. 2 

It’s thought that around 90% of regularly menstruating women will experience these symptoms.3 On top of that, most are left to their own devices to deal with it simply because there’s a frustrating lack of information (and harmful misinformation) out there for managing PMS. 

The past several decades have, however, seen an ever-increasing interest in tackling PMS symptoms, with researchers finding more and more means of mitigating symptoms. 

From yoga, to mindfulness, and even acupuncture, the list of treatments, therapies, and strategies available that can alleviate PMS symptoms continues to increase.4,5,6 

One of the stalwarts of research focus in tackling PMS has been the use of various and complimentary forms of supplementation. We’ve listed below a breakdown of the “big hitters” that you may want to consider adding to your stack to aid yourself dealing with this natural but challenging array of symptoms. 

 

The supplementary supplement guide to tackling PMS

Here’s a quick overview of the main supplements found to be effective at reducing the severity and or frequency of PMS symptoms; 

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for the brain’s synthesis of dopamine (the “pleasure” neurotransmitter). A deficiency of dopamine (an imbalance) can lead to overwhelming anxiety.7  

Studies have found that women who suffer with PMS have lower concentrations of magnesium. This suggests that it may play a key role in the presentation of PMS symptoms.8 Supplementation of magnesium has been shown to significantly improve PMS symptoms.9 

 

Calcium

Similar to magnesium, calcium concentrations have been reportedly lower in women who experience PMS.10 Insufficient levels of calcium may negatively impact the production of serotonin (the “happiness” neurotransmitter).  

When supplemented, it’s been found that calcium not only helps improve overall mood state in women experiencing PMS but also reduces water retention and bloating.11 

 

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to be an effective supplementary treatment in reducing the symptoms of PMS. Scores for depression, nervousness, anxiety, and lack of concentration have all been found to be lower following omega 3 supplementation.12  

Supplementation has also been shown to improve other symptoms of PMS including bloating, headache, and breast tenderness.12 

Omega 3s play an important role in managing mood and sleep quality (thanks to their role in brain cell function) as well as in the synthesis of serotonin. They’re also a potent anti-inflammatory agent and so can improve some of the pain associated with PMS.12 

 

Zinc

Like the other minerals we’ve mentioned, zinc levels have also been found to be significantly lower in women with PMS. Whilst the mechanisms surrounding how zinc may be of benefit are not fully understood, fixing the deficiency does have a beneficial impact on PMS symptoms.13 

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a highly diverse role in the human body and there may be several possible reasons as to how it can be beneficial to those suffering with PMS.  

One of the primary mechanisms of benefit may be in vitamin D’s regulatory role in calcium turnover and ensuring that concentrations of calcium never get too low or too high.  

Women with higher intakes of vitamin D have been found to have a significantly lower risk of developing PMS.14 Supplementation with vitamin D is the most practical and safe way of achieving adequate intakes consistently. 

 

Vitamin B-6

It’s been found that women with higher levels of dietary intake of vitamin B have much lower risk of developing PMS than those with lower dietary intake.15  

Vitamin B plays an important role in the production of serotonin and deficiency can result in mood disorders.16 An in-depth review paper concluded that supplementation with vitamin B6 in particular relieves overall premenstrual and depressive symptoms.17 

 

Chasteberry (vitex agnus-castus)

Out of all the herbal supplements on the market, the most convincingly effective for treating PMS appears to be chasteberry.18  

Researchers have suggested that this may be down to chasteberry’s impact on hormonal properties, a possible estrogenic effect, its effect on opioid receptors and even its phytochemical content.  

Supplementation appears to be beneficial to those affected by moderate to severe PMS symptoms. 

 

“Baby” or low dose aspirin

Lower dosages of aspirin have been used to significantly reduce the impact and pain of menstruation related cramps and migraines.  

Whilst some have questioned the use of low dose aspirin in impacting menstrual cycle regularity and fertility, previously published pieces of work have debunked cynical views .19,20  

You may want to consider daily dosages of 80mg, however, it would always be advised to speak to your respective healthcare provider first. 

 

Take home message

Women can now incorporate a whole range of strategies and interventions to put PMS in its place. Supplementation may be particularly promising and certainly an avenue worthy of exploration! 

We’d recommend developing your own PMS protection stack; several complimentary supplements to take that can help reduce, if not fully mitigate, your PMS symptoms. 

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


1. National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome. What is PMS?.

2. O’Brien, S., Rapkin, A., Dennerstein, L., & Nevatte, T. (2011). Diagnosis and management of premenstrual disordersBmj342.

3. Jarvis, C. I., Lynch, A. M., & Morin, A. K. (2008). Management strategies for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorderAnnals of Pharmacotherapy42(7-8), 967-978.

4. Vaghela, N., Mishra, D., Sheth, M., & Dani, V. B. (2019). To compare the effects of aerobic exercise and yoga on Premenstrual syndromeJournal of education and health promotion8.

5. Panahi, F., & Faramarzi, M. (2016). The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on depression and anxiety in women with premenstrual syndromeDepression research and treatment2016.

6. Jang, S. H., Kim, D. I., & Choi, M. S. (2014). Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic reviewBMC complementary and alternative medicine14(1), 1-13.

7. Li, W., Zheng, T., Altura, B. M., & Altura, B. T. (2001). Sex steroid hormones exert biphasic effects on cytosolic magnesium ions in cerebral vascular smooth muscle cells: possible relationships to migraine frequency in premenstrual syndromes and stroke incidenceBrain research bulletin54(1), 83-89.

8. Rosenstein, D. L., Elin, R. J., Hosseini, J. M., Grover, G., & Rubinow, D. R. (1994). Magnesium measures across the menstrual cycle in premenstrual syndromeBiological psychiatry35(8), 557-561.

9. Fathizadeh, N., Ebrahimi, E., Valiani, M., Tavakoli, N., & Yar, M. H. (2010). Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndromeIranian journal of nursing and midwifery research15(Suppl1), 401.

10. Shamberger, R. J. (2003). Calcium, magnesium, and other elements in the red blood cells and hair of normals and patients with premenstrual syndromeBiological trace element research94(2), 123-129.

11. Sohrabi, N., Kashanian, M., Ghafoori, S. S., & Malakouti, S. K. (2013). Evaluation of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome:“a pilot trial”Complementary therapies in medicine21(3), 141-146.

12. Siahbazi, S., Behboudi‐Gandevani, S., Moghaddam‐Banaem, L., & Montazeri, A. (2017). Effect of zinc sulfate supplementation on premenstrual syndrome and health‐related quality of life: Clinical randomized controlled trialJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research43(5), 887-894.

13. Kaewrudee, S., Kietpeerakool, C., Pattanittum, P., & Lumbiganon, P. (2018). Vitamin or mineral supplements for premenstrual syndromeThe Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews2018(1).

14. Chocano-Bedoya, P. O., Manson, J. E., Hankinson, S. E., Willett, W. C., Johnson, S. R., Chasan-Taber, L., … & Bertone-Johnson, E. R. (2011). Dietary B vitamin intake and incident premenstrual syndromeThe American journal of clinical nutrition93(5), 1080-1086.

15. Lewis, J. E., Tiozzo, E., Melillo, A. B., Leonard, S., Chen, L., Mendez, A., … & Konefal, J. (2013). The effect of methylated vitamin B complex on depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in adults with depressionInternational Scholarly Research Notices2013.

16. Wyatt KM, Dimmock PW, Jones PW, O’Brien PM. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ. 1999 May 22;318:1375-81.

17. Dietz, B. M., Hajirahimkhan, A., Dunlap, T. L., & Bolton, J. L. (2016). Botanicals and their bioactive phytochemicals for women’s healthPharmacological reviews68(4), 1026-1073.

18. Evans, M. B., Nobles, C. J., Kim, K., Hill, M. J., DeCherney, A. H., Silver, R. M., … & Schisterman, E. F. (2020). Low-dose aspirin in reproductive health: effects on menstrual cycle characteristicsFertility and Sterility114(6), 1263-1270.

19. Schisterman, E. F., Silver, R. M., Lesher, L. L., Faraggi, D., Wactawski-Wende, J., Townsend, J. M., … & Galai, N. (2014). Preconception low-dose aspirin and pregnancy outcomes: results from the EAGeR randomised trialThe Lancet384(9937), 29-36.



Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright

Writer and expert

Jamie Wright holds an MSc Degree in Human Nutrition and a BSc (Hons) in Sports and Exercise Science, and now works with multiple organisations as well as running his own private nutritionist coaching services company, OUTWRK, to help individuals with their nutritional goals. He is accredited with the Association for Nutrition and has helped hundreds of clients; from those with eating disorders to internationally competing athletes. Jamie supports his clients with evidence-based, holistic nutrition programming to reach their health and fitness goals. In addition to running his practice, Jamie regularly contributes to the field of nutrition presenting and writing on its many facets. He has had his research presented at the UK Obesity Congress as well as overseas conferences and has authored several e-books whilst contributing to others (including charitable sporting organisations). His research has centred around weight management as well as sports / exercise performance and supplementation. A massive sport nut, avid gym goer and lover of all things dog related, Jamie’s goal in sharing the experience and knowledge he has gained academically and professionally is to provide a source of clarity in the vast amount of “misinformation and noise” that exists within the health and fitness industry. You can check his work out further at OUTWRK or @jamiesdietguide on social media.


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