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Women's Health

The PMS-Free Diet?

What you eat may affect PMS symptoms
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Flaxseed for Breast Pain

About 11% of women have moderate to severe breast pain and soreness, according to a recent study.

Another recent study suggests that flaxseed -- already famed for its healthy omega-3 fatty acids -- may also help women with breast pain.

Researchers at the University of Toronto tested flaxseed's effects on premenopausal women with breast pain. For a six month period, one group of women ate a muffin containing 25 grams of flaxseed every day, while another group ate a muffin without flaxseed.

The flaxseed-eating women reported much less breast pain than the other group. This may be because the lignans in flaxseed are plant estrogens that compete with human estrogen.

A B-6 Bonus?

The reviews are mixed, but it's possible that daily vitamin B-6 helps improve PMS-related depression as well as physical symptoms.

Although some sources suggest 50-100 milligrams per day of B-6, the Daily Value for women aged 19-50 is a mere 1.3 milligrams per day. That's a huge gap, and one that can't be realistically filled with food sources of B-6. You'll see what I mean when I list the top B-6-containing foods:

  • 1 banana = 0.7 milligrams B-6
  • 3.5 ounces cooked salmon = 0.7 milligrams B-6
  • 3.5 ounces cooked light chicken or turkey meat = 0.6 milligrams B-6
  • 1 baked potato = 0.4 milligrams B-6
  • 3/4 cup prune juice = 0.4 milligrams B-6
  • 3.5 ounces cooked halibut = 0.4 milligrams B-6
  • 3.5 ounces cooked shrimp = 0.4 milligrams B-6
  • 3.5 ounces cooked dark chicken or turkey = 0.4 milligrams B-6

Even on a "good" day (if you ate 3.5 ounces of light chicken or fish a day, 2 cups of colorful fruit, and 2 1/2 cups of colorful vegetables), you'd take in about 2 milligrams of B-6 from food.

Keep in mind, though, that very large doses of B-6 supplements can be toxic over time -- something that can't happen with food sources of B-6. The 1998 Recommended Dietary Allowance/Dietary Reference Intakes committee set the upper limit for B-6 at 100 milligrams per day for people aged 19 and older.

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