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Iron Can Ease PMS, New Study finds

Update Date: Mar 02, 2013 01:34 PM EST

Many women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which involves severe breast tenderness, depression, bloating and anxiety. PMS occurs during a woman's menstrual cycle, and thus, it afflicts some women monthly. According to a new study, women might be able to ease the pain of PMS by eating more iron instead of turning to medication. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and head researcher of the study found that iron intake might be connected with PMS.

In the study, the research team recruited female nurses from the United States and followed them over the span of 10 years. In 1989, the nurses' ages ranged from 25 to 42 and in 1991, the 3,025 participants reported no symptoms of PMS. After a decade, the researchers asked the participants questions regarding their food consumption. They measured iron intake based off of 131 different types of food. The research team noted that women's account of their own food intake was a limit for the study since nothing could actually be measured. The researchers looked into the diet differences between the 1,057 women who developed PMS and the 1,968 women who did not.

The study found that the first group of women only consumed 10 milligrams of iron a day, where as the latter group had 22 milligrams of iron, which is above the recommended 18 milligrams a day.  Based from this finding, the researchers stated that 22 milligrams of iron a day could lower the percentage of developing PMS by 33 percent. However, too much consumption is also not ideal. Thus, the study suggests that women should try to consume the recommended number of 18 milligrams to ease the pains of PMS.

The study also looked into the sources for iron. Iron found in meat and poultry is easier to digest, where as iron from vegetable sources is harder for the body to breakdown, and consequently, vegetarians might have to consume twice the amount to achieve the daily goal. Although the study found a relationship between iron and PMS, it is not a causal relationship. There was no clear biological base for how iron regulates PMS. However, iron has been known to help with the release of serotonin, which is responsible for mood.

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology

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