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Minerals studied for relieving PMS

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Diet could play a role in staving off PMS, finds study.

Researchers may have found a natural remedy for pre-menstrual cramping, bloating, fluid retention and other symptoms. Scientists from University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Harvard found women who consumed iron in the form of supplements or from plant-based foods were 30 to 40 percent less likely to develop PMS later in life, compared to those who consumed the lowest amount.

For their study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson and colleagues in addition to a team at Harvard assessed mineral intake among 3,000 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study II.

The women answered questions related to food frequency three times over a period of 10 years. None of the women had PMS at the study’s start. A decade later, 1,057 women were diagnosed with PMS and 1,968 were never diagnosed with the disorder.

Lower chance of PMS was found for women who ate foods with non-heme iron that comes from plant foods like lentils and beans as opposed to heme iron that comes from red meat, fish and poultry. Other sources of heme iron include spinach, tofu, soybeans, raisins and oatmeal.

Zinc could be good a good remedy for PMS

Another mineral found to help PMS was zinc. The authors say they were surprised to find higher intake of potassium seemed to make premenstrual syndrome more likely.

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Women in the study who consumed slightly higher amounts than the recommended 18 mg per day; approximately 20mg a day, had lower PMS risk.

The study authors say iron might help alleviate the condition because it boosts serotonin in the body that is a natural mood enhancer.

"However, as high iron intake may have adverse health consequence, women should avoid consuming more than the tolerable upper intake level of 45 mg per day unless otherwise recommended by a physician," Bertone-Johnson said in a press release.

The women also consumed slightly more zinc that recommended, which was greater than 15 mg. a day. The current recommendation is 8 mg/day. The uppermost limit for tolerability is 40mg/day. The authors also advise women not to take excess zinc because of potential health problems, unless directed by your health care provider.

Zinc can be taken in supplement form and is found in cashews, pecans, almonds (raw), organic beef, Lima beans, chickpeas and split peas.

Potassium was no help for alleviating PMS and seemed to make it worse, even for women who took in less than what is currently recommended. The researchers aren’t sure why, but think it might be related to potassium’s role in fluid regulation (bloating). The study authors say more studies are needed to replicate the findings.

Am. J. Epidemiol. (2013)
doi: 10.1093/aje/kws363
February 26, 2013

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