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Nat Kringoudis and I met for the first time in real life a few weeks ago at a conference in San Diego! We’ve been “online friends” since early 2013 and we’ve been hosting our podcast The Period Party since mid-2013, so this was a HUGE deal. If you haven’t listened to the PP as yet, run don’t walk, we’ve got soooo many amazing topics and guests.

Mean't to be!

The reason I bring this up is because we were having a conversation with a good friend at the conference about improving her ovulation and fertile quality cervical fluid. She was saying that hers has diminished over the last year, so Nat and I threw out a bunch of ways she could improve it. Then we decided to do a joint Facebook Live to share this info with everyone – because, sharing is caring.

And now I’m writing a blog post about this because it’s clearly a question on many of your minds.

Just FYI: I don’t love the word “mucus” so that’s why I don’t use it. Nothing against cervical mucus or women’s bodies (obvi), but I have had a long-time dislike of the word, so I prefer to go against the grain and say cervical fluid! Hope you don’t mind? 🙂

Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, I can jump right into sharing three awesome supplements that WILL improve your ovulation, fertile cervical fluid production, and of course your period!

#1: Vitamin B6

I’m a big fan of all the B vitamins, but B6 in particular, really loves our lady parts. It has been shown to lengthen a short luteal phase (a luteal phase shorter than 10 days is known as luteal phase defect), lower prolactin levels (high prolactin can stop ovulation in it’s tracks and shows up when B6 is low) (1), and it works wonders for PMS (likely because it improves dopamine & serotonin production – happy brain chemicals).

I wrote recently about five surprising things that can impair ovulation. You should check it out here.

Additionally, it supports your liver’s detoxification of estrogen, which is always helpful in our estrogen-overloaded environment, and it plays a role in decreasing our risk of ovarian cancer.

In addition, the B Complex of vitamins, which includes B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 work wonders for a whole host of period problems – menorrhagia (heavy periods), abnormal bleeding (spotting or other irregular bleeding), fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis and menstrual cramps (B1 and B3 in particular). And B1 and B2 significantly lower the risk for PMS.

Quite a group of power vitamins huh?

Naturally, you want to create your foundation with food because you can’t out-supplement a bad diet. Foods with B6 and other B’s include many of the leafy greens, beef liver, tuna, salmon, chicken, chickpeas and potatoes.

Supplements – with all that said about food, I think B6 and B Complex supplements work wonders and I’m a big fan of trying them out to see if they work for you.

Important: Supplementation can get complicated for some people with various gene SNP’s like the MTHFR mutation. I have it (yup, some girls have all the luck!) and in fact, about 40% of people have it too. I wrote pretty extensively about it here.

Dosage:

Per that article, I recommend you get yourself a B Complex with the active forms of B2, B6, B9 and B12. I love Thorne Research Basic B Complex which contains all of these. I also like Seeking Health B Complex Plus. B vitamins work synergistically, that’s why I suggest the B Complex. For instance, riboflavin helps activate B6 which then generates serotonin. They’re like a power posse of supportive girlfriends.

Additionally, you can try the B6 in addition to the B Complex because neither of my recommendations have a high dose of B6. I recommend 20-100mg a day of B6 and the two B Complex suggestions above contain 10 and 20mg respectively. So you can also get the Thorne Research B6 which has 33mg per capsule and take one of those each day in addition to the B Complex.

#2: Selenium

This has become one of my favorite recommendations for improving your monthly period experience. It packs a huge punch in a very small dose, which is also why I love it so much.

Selenium is a mineral and a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage aka inflammation. This is significant because your ovarian tissue is literally THE most sensitive to aging than any other tissue in the human body (whaaat!) and as it gets older, both the number of follicles it houses and the quality of these follicles reduces. I wrote about that here.

Selenium’s job is two-fold. First, it is one of those minerals that protects the thyroid from toxic heavy metals and stress messing with it’s function. It also aids in the conversion of T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone, AND it helps to lower thyroid peroxidase antibodies that are linked to Hashimotos.

Healthy thyroid function is critical to having a healthy period, here’s why: Subclinical hypothyroidism is linked to a short luteal phase (the second half of your cycle) and low progesterone.

[2]

Second, selenium has been found to be crucial for the development of healthy ovarian follicles – follicles are the mini houses where your eggs live. In fact, selenium is found in large quantities in healthy follicles and plays a critical role in the later stages of follicle development. [3] Sooo, it’s safe to say that if a woman is deficient in selenium, she might not be producing the healthiest follicles and eggs.

This is super important because once the egg has been released, the follicle it lived in transforms into the corpus luteum, which is the sole source of progesterone production for the second half of your cycle.

Selenium effect on cycle (1)

Dosage:

Foods highest in selenium include Brazil nuts – this depends on how and where they are grown, so look for the organic label. In fact, you can get the recommended dosage of 200mcg in just 3-4 Brazil nuts. You’ll also find selenium in fish and shellfish like oysters, tuna, sardines and salmon. Animal protein like liver, kidney, grassfed beef or lamb.

If you have specific health issues like Hashimotos or a short luteal phase or low progesterone, then I definitely suggest supplementing with selenium to see if it helps you. The recommended dosage is 100-200mcg a day with 200mcg being the maximum amount you should take in a day. I like Life Extension Super Selenium because it has different types of selenium in it that total out to 200mcg.

Important: High doses of selenium on a long-term basis can cause stomach upset, hair loss, fatigue and irritability, so I suggest only using selenium supplements for a maximum of 8-12 weeks. If you don’t see improvement in your symptoms then it’s time to look at other options. OR incorporate more selenium-rich foods into your daily diet.

#3: Magnesium

If there was one mineral that I would recommend to women, magnesium would be it. It has such a profound effect on our periods because it plays a part in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Unfortunately for us, stress causes our bodies to excrete magnesium at a faster pace than when we’re not stressed, so it’s imperative for women to supplement. In my experience, food sources just aren’t enough for most women living in our crazy modern world.

It’s the calming mineral – I refer to it as natural valium because it supports the nervous system and helps prevent feelings of nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, irritability and fear. No small feat for us modern girls right?! 🙂

What’s interesting is that magnesium appears to become depleted by cyclical changes in the female sex hormones during the luteal phase, which leads to PMS symptoms like migraines and bloating [4]. Magnesium has such a big impact on PMS symptoms that there was even a study done to find out if magnesium deficiency is a cause of PMS! The scientists found levels to be significantly lower in PMS sufferers. [5]

This is why I’ve found supplementation in the second half of the cycle to be so helpful to pretty much all of my clients. What’s really cool is that just 200mg of magnesium together with 50mg of B6 has been shown to alleviate anxiety-related PMS symptoms, as well as menstrual weight gain, breast tenderness and cramps.

Attention PCOS and insulin-resistant girls – this mineral is so necessary for you! Studies show that magnesium intake improves insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation – both big problems for someone who is genetically predisposed to PCOS or is already dealing with it.

It basically works by improving the sensitivity of the insulin receptors on your cells, making them better able to utilize insulin. If your receptors don’t work properly, you end up with insulin hanging out in your blood stream which is no bueno.

Dosage:

Obviously I want you to eat as many leafy greens as possible (they are super high in magnesium and other minerals), but as I said above, supplementation helps tremendously.

Magnesium glycinate is the most easily absorbed form of magnesium, which will prevent diarrhea. I recommend 400-800mg a day. Start with 400mg and increase the dose by 100mg each week if you aren’t feeling the good effects of it.

I also LOVE Natural Calm, which is magnesium citrate and not absorbed as well, but still amazing. Just mix 1-2 teaspoons in water each night and your constipation (and your PMS & cramps) will likely disappear! If you take more than 350mg of citrate you may experience diarrhea, so just experiment and see what works for you.

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Medical Disclaimer

Information in this post and on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of practice experience and research by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.

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Sources:

  1. Effects of serotonergic agents on plasma prolactin levels in pyridoxine-deficient adult male rats
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1427622
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141117111008.htm
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11226717
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7197877