New study suggests a high intake of calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of PMS.


June 15 — If you regularly suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), you might want to bulk up on the amount of milk you drink, and the amount of yogurt you eat. That's because a diet high in calcium and vitamin D could reduce the risk of getting PMS, according to a new study.

Previous studies have suggested that calcium supplements and vitamin D, a hormone that regulates the absorption of calcium, may reduce premenstrual occurrence and severity.

In this study, researchers compared the diets and supplement use of 1,057 women aged 27 to 44 years who reported developing PMS over the course of 10 years to 1,968 women who reported no diagnosis of PMS or no or minimal premenstrual symptoms in the same time period.

The researchers found a "significantly lower risk" of developing PMS in women with intakes of vitamin D and calcium from food sources equivalent to about four servings per day of skim or low-fat milk, fortified orange juice, or low-fat dairy foods such as yogurt.

"These dietary intakes correspond to approximately 1,200 mg. of calcium and 400 IU [international units] of vitamin D from food sources," the authors write. "While previous studies have observed the benefits of calcium supplements for treating PMS, this is the first, to our knowledge, to suggest that calcium and vitamin D may help prevent the initial development of PMS."

PMS is a group of physical and emotional symptoms—including abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headache, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety—that occur in women before the onset of menstruation. While most women may experience mild emotional or physical PMS symptoms, as many as 8 to 20 percent of women experience symptoms harsh enough to meet the definition of PMS, characterized by moderate to severe symptoms that substantially interfere with normal life activities and interpersonal relationships, according to background information in the study.

The study's lead author, Dr. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson of the University of Massachusetts, reportedly said the research is "exciting," but too preliminary to recommend diet changes for women in general.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was supported by a grant from GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of calcium supplements, as well as grants from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

What do you think of this study? Do you suffer from PMS? Does diet seem to affect how severe or mild your PMS is? Do you think you get enough calcium? Share your thoughts on our message board below:

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