The Top 4 Micronutrients for Period Health
When it comes to micronutrients, we need them ALL. However, you don’t need to supplement each one of them as you can get a lot from food alone. I want to cover 4 micronutrients that are essential for period health, fully acknowledging that one may need more depending on what they are struggling with. I recommend consulting with your trusted healthcare practitioner if you need support. For more micro and macronutrient information and support, check out my podcast episode here.
I have been taking this for years. Magnesium is an essential mineral that over half of all Americans are deficient in due to depleting soil quality, low-nutrient diets, and stress. When someone is struggling with PMS, period pain, PCOS, etc., magnesium is a must-have. Even if you don’t suffer from these, I still recommend supplementation because food supply isn't always enough. We live in a stressful world and our body dumps magnesium under stress which ramps up our nervous system in order to deal with the stressor, whatever it may be. We jump from one stressor to the next and encounter environmental toxins, which results in chronic stress.
Magnesium works by calming your nervous system, optimizing sleep, regulating the HPA axis, improving insulin and thyroid functioning, reducing inflammation, and optimizing the metabolism (aka detoxification) of estrogen.
Magnesium levels can’t be tested via blood, urine, or hair because it is predominantly stored in your cells. Red cell magnesium test is slightly better but unnecessary because we pretty much ALL need more magnesium in today’s day. Supplementation is safe for long term use if you don’t have kidney disease. I recommend a magnesium complex, 300 mg/day. Take directly after food.
Zinc is another one of my favorite supplements for women’s period health. Deficiency in this essential mineral is linked to PCOS, period pain, PMS, facial hair, and hormonal acne. Proper levels of zinc have the following benefits:
- Regulates the HPA axis / improves stress response
- Nourishes ovarian follicles to promote healthy ovulation and progesterone
- Needed for the synthesis, transport, and action of all hormones including thyroid
- Natural androgen blocker
Food sources of zinc are eggs (make sure to purchase organic and pasture-raised), oysters, red meat (grass-fed and grass-finished). You may also supplement with zinc and since we don’t store it, we need a little bit every day. I recommend 30 mg zinc citrate or picolinate after a meal, not on an empty stomach as this can cause an upset stomach. More than 80 mg/day can deplete copper levels.
This is one of the most important micronutrients for estrogen excess, ovarian cysts, and breast tenderness. It is an essential mineral for healthy thyroid, ovulation, and estrogen metabolism (it also makes cells less sensitive to estrogen). The ovaries need a lot of iodine for healthy and stable estrogen receptors.
The dosing of iodine is a very controversial topic. Conventional docs seem to be uber conservative (max of .25 milligrams) but many naturopaths recommend mega doses (50 milligrams). Too much can trigger autoimmune thyroid disease and acne. So, If you have thyroid disease, avoid iodine or go very low with it and work 1-1 with a trusted practitioner. I also recommend taking selenium, which I love to consume via 2 organic brazil nuts daily, and can protect the thyroid from iodine.
You may test for iodine levels, but honestly, breast tenderness is a HUGE sign of iodine deficiency. Foods that are high in zinc are:
- Seafood (10 – 190 mcg per 100 grams).
- Egg yolks (24 mcg per yolk).
- Iodized salt (400 mcg per teaspoon).
- Seaweed or kelp (2 – 800 mcg per 100 grams). However, kelp also contains bromine, which prevents the uptake of iodine, and may contain toxic metals.
- Plant foods such as mushrooms and leafy greens when they’re grown on iodine-rich soil.
It is a steroid hormone that regulates over 200 different genes within your body. It is essential for healthy insulin sensitivity and ovulation. It also helps with absorption of and the deposit of calcium in our bones. It promotes immune and hormone function. We synthesize vitamin D from a cholesterol precursor when our skin is exposed to UV light, sunlight. Healthy blood levels should be between 30-50 nanograms/mL.
I really recommend getting it from FOOD as supplementing with it can cause negative side effects such as increased demand for other vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium which most of us (over 60%) are already deficient in. Foods that are high in vitamin D are:
- Grass-fed butter
- Pink wild salmon
- Organ meats
Checkout my herbal remedy for hormone health here.
- Parazzini F, Di Martino M, Pellegrino P. Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnes Res. 2017 Feb 1;30(1):1-7. English. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2017.0419. PMID: 28392498.
- Nasiadek, M., Stragierowicz, J., Klimczak, M., & Kilanowicz, A. (2020). The Role of Zinc in Selected Female Reproductive System Disorders. Nutrients, 12(8), 2464. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082464
- Harding KB, Peña-Rosas JP, Webster AC, Yap CM, Payne BA, Ota E, De-Regil LM. Iodine supplementation for women during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum period. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Mar 5;3(3):CD011761. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011761.pub2. PMID: 28260263; PMCID: PMC6464647.
- Bahrami A, Avan A, Sadeghnia HR, Esmaeili H, Tayefi M, Ghasemi F, Nejati Salehkhani F, Arabpour-Dahoue M, Rastgar-Moghadam A, Ferns GA, Bahrami-Taghanaki H, Ghayour-Mobarhan M. High dose vitamin D supplementation can improve menstrual problems, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual syndrome in adolescents. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018 Aug;34(8):659-663. doi: 10.1080/09513590.2017.1423466. Epub 2018 Feb 15. PMID: 29447494.