Women who experience painful menstrual cramps could find relief from high-dose vitamin D3, according to new research – which suggests the dietary supplement could provide an alternative to painkilling drugs that are currently used. Women with a history of severe menstrual cramps reported significantly less pain when they took an ultra-high dose of vitamin D five days before their next expected period.
Vitamin D is known to decrease the production of inflammation-provoking molecules called cytokines, as well as hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which scientists believe to be a main cause of the cramps.
The amount used was 30,000 iu which is much higher than usual doses and the authors warned it should not be taken daily for long periods at this level.
Primary dysmenorrhea is among the most common menstrual disorders, occurring in at least 50% of reproductive-age women. Dysmenorrhea is characterised by pelvic pain beginning shortly before the onset of menses or at the beginning of menstrual flow and then lasting several days.
The disorder results in substantial impairment in normal functioning and is among the most common causes of school and work absenteeism in young women. The main source of pelvic pain is believed to be prostaglandins synthesised from omega-6 fatty acids prior to menses, which control vasoconstriction and uterine contraction.
Though nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and oral contraceptives are effective at managing pain in many patients, these medications are not without risks. Given the high prevalence of dysmenorrhea and the long duration over which affected women may suffer, treatment options with fewer adverse effects are needed.
The alternative common use of NSAIDS and contraceptive medication carries far greater risk that periodic supplementation with vitamin D. However, it should be noted that there are many other nutritional approaches including the use of essential fatty acids, vitamin B1 and magnesium that may achieve a similar result.,
 Lasco A, Catalano A, Benvenga S. Improvement of Primary Dysmenorrhea Caused by a Single Oral Dose of Vitamin D: Results of a Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Feb 27;172(4):366-7. View Abstract
 Benassi L, Barletta FP, Baroncini L, Bertani D, Filippini F, Beski L, Nani A, Tesauri P, Tridenti G. Effectiveness of magnesium pidolate in the prophylactic treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 1992;19(3):176-9. View Abstract