Calcium Supplementation May Help PMS Symptoms

Calcium Supplementation May Help PMS Symptoms

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is one of the most common conditions women face. It is characterized by nervous tension, irritability, bloating, headaches, and breast tenderness each month in the days just prior to the start of menstruation. While scientists have proposed several theories, the exact cause of PMS remains elusive. Recent research, however, has revealed that certain nutrients in the body are powerfully affected by the menstrual cycle. In fact, some may be significantly depleted at certain times during a woman's monthly cycle. It has been proposed, therefore, that deficiency of these nutrients may be at the root of some of the physical and behavioral states related to PMS.

Calcium is one of the nutrients significantly affected by monthly hormonal changes. Recently, one researcher reviewed several calcium studies and found evidence to show that menstrual-cycle hormone changes deplete the body's supply of calcium. The reviewer points out that the symptoms of PMS are remarkably similar to those of hypocalcemia (too little calcium in the blood). The paper also details three trials that demonstrate that supplementing the diet with calcium relieves PMS-related mood and behavioral disturbances.

The bottom line: calcium supplementation in a dosage of 1,000 to 1,200 mg a day will not only promote strong bones but may also help to relieve some PMS symptoms, such as irritability, depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Note: other things you can do to reduce PMS symptoms include: eating small meals throughout the day; eating low-protein, low-fat meals with plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables; limiting sugar intake; avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and salt; taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement; and exercising regularly.


Thys-Jacobs S. Micronutrients and the premenstrual syndrome: the case for calcium. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000;19(2):220-227.

Review Date: June 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

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