Sources of Caffeine
Caffeine is an organic compound that occurs naturally in over 60 species of plants. it is added to many popular soft drinks, energy drinks, protein bars and is also an ingredient in certain over-the-counter medications like analgesics and cold/flu remedies.
Coffee, well known to be one of the most popular drinks containing caffeine, serves as a stimulant for both the mind and the nervous system. In small doses, coffee can make one feel awake and focused, while in large quantities, one may feel anxious and have trouble sleeping.
How much caffeine is too much?
The amount of caffeine present in coffee is variable. A large (Grande) Starbucks coffee contains around 330 mg of caffeine. While the response to caffeine differs from person to person, the amount deemed excessive for adults is generally 400 milligrams or higher. Any intake of caffeine above this level can lead to side effects such as fatigue, hypertension, insomnia and anxiety to name a few.
Recommended quantity intake: The following statistics provide current insight into the trends of caffeine use and the consumption of caffeine amongst individuals. 3 On average, an individual consumes around 165 milligrams of caffeine or about 1–2 cups of coffee or caffeinated drinks per day. The consumption of caffeine has been found to be the highest in individuals aged 50–64 years (226mg / day).
Excessive Intake of Caffeine Can Aggravate PMS Symptoms
Most women with normal menstrual cycles may experience physical and mental shifts around the time of their period. This condition is known as Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola- best-selling author of New York Times, drinking coffee can potentially worsen the symptoms of a woman's menstrual cycle. The consumption of caffeine has been correlated with elevated levels of estrogen which may increase the risk of certain illnesses. Mercola claims that a woman may benefit from eradicating or reducing caffeine from her diet as this may reduce the symptoms that accompany her PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome).
Caffeine may affect a woman's PMS symptoms in a variety of ways. This depends on the individual and symptoms may be classified as mild or severe.
Here are some PMS symptoms that may be affected by the consumption of caffeine:
- Lack of sleep. Insomnia is one of the main symptoms experienced by women suffering from PMS. Research shows that higher doses of caffeine tend to increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, reduces overall sleep time and makes it difficult to get enough quality sleep.
- Fatigue. While caffeine provides energy, as its effects wear off, it may indirectly cause fatigue.
- Mood Swings. Irritability, rage, crying, depression and anxiety can come and go in days leading up to a woman's period.
- Digestive Problems. Gastrointestinal complaints encountered in the days before, during and after a woman's period may resemble the signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some of these symptoms include bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation or gas. If a woman already suffers from digestive conditions like Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Ulcerative Colitis (UC), she should stay away from caffeine to avoid worsening any PMS symptoms.
- Nutrient Absorption. Caffeine may cause the deficiency of certain nutrients including vitamin B6 and can interfere with the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. Caffeine has mild diuretic properties, which increases the frequency of urination. As a consequence, water-soluble vitamins, specifically B-vitamins and vitamin C can be depleted due to fluid loss.
One study suggested that caffeine reduces the absorption of Vitamin D by reducing the function of vitamin D receptors on osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone production) in the body. Caffeine can also conflict with calcium absorption. One study found that just a cup of coffee may substantially decrease the absorption of calcium in the body.
- Dehydration. Consuming too much coffee during a woman's PMS days can lead to dehydration. Caffeine is a diuretic and causes fluid loss. Estrogen and Progesterone are the two hormones that have a significant impact on the hydration level in a woman's body. During PMS, the levels of both of these hormones fluctuate, which can result in extreme bouts of monthly dehydration. So during a woman's PMS, she should increase her intake of fluids to stay hydrated and cut down or eliminate caffeine from the diet.
How to Reduce and Manage PMS Symptoms
Managing the effects of PMS depends on the kinds of symptoms a woman experiences. Fortunately, PMS can be managed and treated effectively by way of lifestyle changes, dietary improvements, and simple remedies.
Staying active, managing stress and getting proper rest can help a woman cope with difficult PMS.
Cutting down on: refined salt, alcohol consumption Including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, including Iron rich foods in the diet, consuming complex carbohydrates such as unrefined whole grains and starchy vegetables.
Due to the possible irritating effects of caffeine on some women with PMS symptoms, it may be a wise idea to switch to a plant based alternative to coffee. Bambu by A.Vogel is a wonderful and delicious substitute for coffee that is made from fruits and certain grains. It offers a caffeine free solution for those who suffer from insomnia or nervousness of all kinds. One of the main ingredients in Bambu is Chicory root which is roasted, ground up and can be brewed into a tasty hot drink the same way one would use coffee beans. The best part is, it tastes like coffee and is free from caffeine.
Effective remedies for navigating difficult PMS symptoms:
Women who experience difficult PMS symptoms will want to consider A.Vogel's PMS Vitex tincture made from a plant called: Agnus Castus which is very popular for its medicinal properties. The fruit that grows on the Chaste tree is known as Chaste berry or monk's pepper. Chaste berries are very helpful in treating many of the symptoms associated with PMS.
Supplementing with both Vitamin D and calcium is a wise decision as these 2 nutrients, when deficient, may intensify symptoms of PMS. When supplementing with both, serum levels of the 2 will be elevated and thus this may reduce the severity of PMS symptoms. Including a calcium support remedy such as A.Vogel's Calcium absorber, is a wonderful addition as it supports the assimilation of calcium in the body.
The Bottom Line
Drinking coffee may potentially exacerbate the symptoms of PMS during a time of hormonal fluctuation. Women who consume plenty of caffeine show more signs of PMS than women who do not use caffeine. However, PMS can be managed well by making lifestyle and dietary changes, and with natural remedies such as those from the A.Vogel line.