Hands holding supplements and a glass of water

As women go through the different stages of the menstrual cycle, the levels of important nutrients in their bodies fluctuate depending on which stage they're at.

Such fluctuations of these nutrients can lead to women becoming vitamin and mineral deficient at different stages of the cycle, leading to fatigue, changes in appetite and other related problems. 

To understand the supplements needed to aid and improve health at each cycle stage, it's important to fully understand the cycle and how it can impact day-to-day behaviours, training plans and nutrition. 

With this in mind, at Discount Supplements, we've broken down the stages of the menstrual cycle to create a better understanding of how it occurs, how you'll feel at each stage and how you can tweak and develop your workouts, nutrition and supplements for a happy, healthy lifestyle!

And with information on easing PMS and period pain included, it's time to take control of your menstrual cycle!

Table of Contents:

What are the four phases of the menstrual cycle?

Nutrition for the follicular and ovulation phase

Nutrition for the luteal phase

The 5 best supplements for the menstrual cycle 

The best supplements for PMS

What are the four phases of the menstrual cycle? 

A woman planning out her menstrual phases on a calendar

The menstrual cycle has three main phases, typically over a month. These phases are broken down as follows:

The follicular phase 

The follicular phase is the first phase of the cycle that leads to an egg's release. The follicular phase is broken down into two sections. The first five days of the cycle are when the body menstruates, and oestrogen and progesterone are low (this is sometimes referred to as the fourth phase of the cycle). Follicular phase two occurs approximately at days six to 14 of the cycle when oestrogen and progesterone levels steadily rise.

The ovulatory phase

The ovulatory phase occurs roughly around days 15 to 17 when the egg is released. During this phase, oestrogen peaks and testosterone and progesterone levels begin to rise.

The luteal phase

Post-egg release, the luteal phase (approximately days 18-28) sees high levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body. If the released egg isn't fertilised, hormone levels drop, and the cycle starts again with menstruation. 

Exercise and training during each stage of the cycle

A woman running on the treadmill a great exercise during the follicular phase

Because each stage of the menstrual cycle has a variation in hormone balance, this can impact workouts, training and results. By understanding which type of exercise will be most beneficial at each stage of the cycle, you can realign your goals and improve your wellbeing.

During the follicular phase (directly after menstruation), women are more oestrogen dominant with a greater pain threshold and, therefore, able to adapt better to training. This phase is great for high-intensity workouts and intense cardio. 

With the ovulation phase and the rise in testosterone, it's a great time for strength training. Weight training is a better choice during this phase than HIIT or cardio. 

During the luteal phase, the body temperature rises by 0.3•C and stays high until menstruation occurs. This high-hormone phase can lead to early fatigue as the body's heat tolerance is reduced. Endurance levels are also lower during this phase, so you may find it harder to improve on or hit previous goals. Stay hydrated and prioritise more aerobic exercise options such as yoga, pilates and cycling whilst planning important rest days. 

At the time of menstruation, hormone levels and energy are low, which can also result in cramps, joint aches and headaches. As every woman is different, it's important to listen to your body during this phase. Some women can train unaffected, whereas others may find it difficult. Stay hydrated and avoid junk food and sugar during this time, particularly around workouts. 

Nutrition for the follicular and ovulation phase 


Measuring protein powder a great post-workout supplement during the follicular and ovulation phases

Now you have a greater understanding of each phase of the menstrual cycle, it's important to look at how to fuel your body during each stage before adding additional supplements. 

Both the follicular and ovulation phases are high in hormones. As you're prioritising cardio, HIIT and weight training, you may need to take on more carbs to supplement your workout than you would in the other phases. This is particularly important if you're doing endurance training or have an event or race day on the horizon. 

As progesterone increases throughout these phases, focus on taking on enough protein, particularly in recovery. Progesterone encourages the breakdown of protein, so it's important to prioritise taking on post-workout protein within an hour of completing your workout to top up the body's protein needs for injury-free recovery. 

Finally, focus on your digestive health to support the production of these essential hormones. Eat probiotic rich-food, omega-3 from nuts, seeds and oily fish and a wide variety of coloured vegetables to clear the body of toxins and support the liver. Greens such as rocket help aid digestion, whereas Vitamin B whole grains aid energy production.

Nutrition for the luteal phase 

A healthy, low-carb meal full of green vegetables for the luteal phase

As the luteal phase is where you'll feel most fatigued, the intensity of your workouts may naturally lower. If you're prioritising lighter exercise, you'll probably find that you won't need as many carbs as you did during the follicular phase of your cycle. 

The luteal phase is the perfect time for low-carb meals to support the moderate-paced exercise. To calm carb cravings, and offset the decline of serotonin during this time, top up your tryptophan with supplements. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which the body turns into melatonin and serotonin to help regulate appetite, sleep, mood and pain; perfect for this time in your cycle.

The 5 best supplements for the menstrual cycle 

A woman in bed with a hot water battle nursing menstrual cramp and PMS symptoms

Now you're more in tune with your menstrual cycle; it's time to look at the best ways that you can supplement it. 

Here are our top five recommendations for taking care of your body throughout the phases of your menstrual cycle for improved health and wellbeing.


Essential throughout your cycle, but especially important during the follicular and ovulation phases, protein aids recovery and helps your body adapt to training. 

It's always important to hit daily protein requirements; the body converts it to essential amino acids to help muscle recovery and repair. Found in animal products such as red meat, eggs and dairy, it's also readily available in whole grains, seeds and legumes. 

As women's metabolic rates return to normal within an hour of their workout, prioritise replenishing your body of protein straight after a high-intensity or high-cardio workout via a protein powder shake or a post-workout protein snack

According to the British Heart Foundation, women need around 45 grams of protein per day, so don't forget to keep on top of your protein levels, particularly during those high progesterone stages of your cycle.  


Zinc helps to support the immune system and is vital for hormone synthesis. It also helps with cell creation, processes carbohydrates, fat and protein in foods, and helps the body to repair wounds. 

Zinc can be found naturally in red meat, poultry, legumes, seeds and whole grains, and according to the NHS, you can get enough zinc from your daily diet

However, it's important to take care when supplementing, as too much zinc can lead to anaemia and weaken the bones. If you are using a zinc supplement, never take more than 25mg daily unless advised by a health professional. 


Women lose their iron stores during menstruation, so they are prone to iron deficiency. Iron is an essential nutrient responsible for red blood cell development and transporting oxygen around the body. 

Women aged 19 to 50 need 14.8mg of iron daily, which can be found in red meat, beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, legumes and dark green leafy vegetables. Most women should be able to take in enough iron from a healthy, balanced diet, but an iron deficiency can be treated with iron tablets as prescribed by a GP or pharmacist.

Too much iron can damage your health, causing stomach pain and sickness, so always follow your GP's advice when taking iron tablets. 

Most multivitamins contain a good, safe source of iron if you want to supplement it alongside your other essential nutrients. 


Calcium is a key factor in maintaining bone health and muscle contraction. Found in dairy products such as milk and cheese, soya beans and green leafy vegetables, it looks after the muscles in your heart, and without enough of it, you could have osteoporosis in later life.

Because it controls muscle contraction, calcium is also great for helping to reduce period pain, caused by the contraction of the muscular wall of the womb. 

You can supplement calcium, but you should be able to get enough of it from a healthy, balanced diet. 

B Vitamins 

There are many useful B vitamins that help to support metabolism, growth, and red blood cell development. Whilst all B vitamins can be supplemented with a single combined B Vitamin Complex, there are a couple of specific B vitamins that can be helpful to support your menstrual cycle. 

Vitamin B12 contributes to red blood cell formation, helping to prevent women with heavy periods from suffering from anaemia. Found in meat, fish, cheese, eggs and fortified cereals, it supports the replenishment of red blood cells.

Another useful B vitamin is Vitamin B6, which stores energy from protein and carbohydrates and promotes the production of haemoglobin, vital in red blood cell formation. Available in pork, poultry, chicken, some fish, and peanuts, it also helps improve low mood and irritability caused by premenstrual syndrome. 

The best supplements for PMS

PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is the name given to the symptoms women experience in the last few days before menstruation when levels of key hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, drop. 

Whilst most women should be relieved of their PMS symptoms during the first few days of menstruation; some suffer severely. PMS symptoms can include mood swings, a change in appetite, period pain, bloating and cramps, irritability and tiredness.

As well as the supplements already outlined to help improve the menstrual cycle, some other known key vitamins and minerals can help relieve the symptoms of PMS. 

Alongside staying on top of your calcium levels, omega-3's anti-inflammatory properties can also help to reduce the severity of period pain. Found in oily fish or taken as a supplement, recommended levels of omega-3 can also help prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

As magnesium levels fall naturally in the week leading up to your period, this can also be linked to unwanted PMS symptoms. Depleted levels of magnesium contribute to bloating in the lead-up to a period. You can reverse this by supplementing magnesium or adding magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, nuts and wholemeal bread to your diet. 

The best supplements for the menstrual cycle: The highlights

The menstrual cycle is broken down into three main key areas, the follicular, ovulatory and luteal phases, and your body's nutritional needs will differ during each phase.

By understanding each phase and how you expect your body to feel, you can alter your nutrition and workout routines to help fuel your body correctly throughout each phase for improved health and wellbeing.

Then you'll take full control of your menstrual cycle by topping up on key vitamins and minerals such as zinc, calcium, B vitamins, protein and iron when your body needs it most. 

Shop wellbeing at Discount Supplements for all of your menstrual cycle needs

Whether you're looking to supplement your cycle or increase your key vitamins and minerals intake, you'll find everything you need in our wellbeing range at Discount Supplements. From immune support to the best green powders and superfoods, improving your health and wellbeing has never been easier.

Related posts: