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A brand new study published in a JAMA/Archives journal, the Archives of Internal Medicine says that women who get a lot of calcium and vitamin D may avoid getting premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Lots of women experience mild symptoms that may be emotional or physical in nature just prior to getting their periods. But 8%-20% of women in their reproductive years will have symptoms that are strong enough to make it difficult for them to carry out their usual activities or maintain their interpersonal relationships with friends, relatives, or coworkers.
In the past, studies have suggested that adding calcium and vitamin D—which helps the body absorb calcium—to a woman's diet may help alleviate her premenstrual symptoms. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. This newest study, on the other hand, says that women who make sure to get a lot of calcium and vitamin D in their diets may never get symptoms of PMS. Now, that's a good thing to know!
Study author Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, Sc.D., from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her team of researchers, looked at diets and supplement use in 1,057 PMS sufferers. The female participants were aged 27-44 and had been diagnosed during the past decade. Another group of 1,968 women also had their dietary intakes examined. These participants either had few premenstrual symptoms or symptoms that were mild in nature during the previous ten years. The women had all been enrolled in the Nurses Health Study (NHS) back in 1991 and had no premenstrual symptoms at the inception of that study.
The researchers were able to measure calcium as well as vitamin D intake by analyzing the women's responses to the questions about food frequency and supplement habits. The standard NHS questionnaires were distributed to the women in 1991, 1995, and in 1999.
The study authors wrote, "We observed a significantly lower risk of developing PMS in women with high 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 of vitamin D from food sources."
The report explains that while earlier studies had found that calcium can be used to treat PMS, this is the first study of which the authors are aware in which calcium and vitamin D are mentioned as possible preventative measures against the development of PMS.
The authors feel that the earlier findings about calcium in conjunction with their own, new findings, suggests that all women should be getting lots of calcium and vitamin D. There is also evidence that the dynamic duo of calcium and vitamin D also protects a woman against osteoporosis and certain cancers. The Amherst-based research team urges doctors to counsel the female members of their practices (both young and old) to include calcium and vitamin D in their diets.