In another article, we discussed how progesterone and allopregnanolone adjust your brain’s GABA receptors. GABA receptors are calming receptors. When they are activated, a person usually feels a sense of calm and ease. Suboptimal ratios of allopregnanolone and progesterone can cause receptors to be less sensitive to GABA and increase anxiety and irritability. This often occurs during the premenstrual period and is a major cause of symptoms. This variation in progesterone and allopregnanolone during the menstrual cycle may cause mood changes that are uncomfortable to say the least.
A major cause of fluctuations in mood during the premenstrual period is inadequate GABA and progesterone production. Often, the root cause of GABA dysfunction is a lack of certain minerals, including zinc, magnesium, and iron.
Zinc is an important mineral that calms because it increases progesterone levels and also increases GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) production in the brain. It increases GABA production because zinc is essential for the conversion of B6 to pyridoxal phosphate (active B6), which is essential for the production of GABA. If your mood or sleep responds to pyridoxal-5-phosphate supplementation but not to B6 (pyridoxine), this could be a sign that your zinc levels are inadequate.
Excess copper can out-compete zinc in your body and reduce your body’s ability to create adequate amounts of hormones and GABA. We can carefully test your copper and zinc levels during your luteal phase to see if this is a contributor to your PMS and/or other hormonal symptoms. (Must be tested during luteal phase).
Magnesium is well-known as a calming mineral. This is partly because magnesium increases the effectiveness of GABA and decreases anxiety-producing NMDA signals in the brain. Getting adequate magnesium through diet or supplementation is an important way to address PMS symptoms and works wonders for some people struggling with PMS.
Unfortunately, when you are stressed psychologically or physically, your body releases a lot of zinc and magnesium through the urine and out of your body. As we know, you need magnesium and zinc to “manufacture calm.” The zinc and magnesium depletion from stress leads to a vicious cycle of increased stress and more and more depletion. This depletion spills over into other body systems, leading eventually to things like adrenal dysfunction and chronic fatigue. At which point you’ll probably need a multi-pronged approach above and beyond simple zinc and magnesium supplementation, although these can definitely help!
Optimal nutrition and eating patterns is one of the best ways to naturally optimize zinc, iron, and magnesium levels and is an important tool for overcoming PMS and PMDD. We recommend you learn how to eat optimally at fxWellness.com through their excellent Optimal Human Nutrition course tailored for busy individuals who want to implement good nutrition easily and painlessly.