A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may lower the risk of developing premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
As many as eight to 20 percent of women experience symptoms severe enough to meet the definition of premenstrual syndrome, characterized by moderate to severe symptoms that substantially interfere with normal life activities and interpersonal relationships. Previous studies have suggested that calcium supplements and vitamin D, a hormone that regulates the absorption of calcium, may reduce premenstrual occurrence and severity.
The study looked at the diets and supplement use of women over the course of 10 years. Their intake of calcium and vitamin D from diet and/or supplements was calculated from food frequency and standard questionnaires administered in 1991, 1995 and 1999.
"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," the researchers wrote. "These dietary intakes correspond to approximately 1,200 mg. of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D from food sources. 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."
"Our findings, together with those from several small randomized trials that found calcium supplements to be effective in treating PMS, suggest that a high intake of calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of PMS," the researchers concluded.