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Iron-Rich Diet Might Ease PMS Misery

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As for zinc, a slightly protective effect for women consuming more than 10 mg daily was also seen.

But, Bertone-Johnson cautioned, both of these minerals can be harmful if taken at above average levels.

The researchers found that higher potassium levels were linked to higher levels of PMS, although Bertone-Johnson said these and other findings from this research need to be confirmed in other studies. Interestingly, the researchers didn't find a connection between sodium, which can make you retain water, and PMS.

"PMS is probably multifactorial, and it's probably way more complicated than one or two supplements or mineral deficiencies might cause," said Dr. Fredric Moon, medical director of general obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

Moon advised women to check with their doctors before starting any type of supplements. Iron levels can be checked with a simple blood test, he said.

Clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller, at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care, agreed. "It's important to speak with your physician before supplementing with any minerals," she said. "Too much iron can cause serious problems, and supplementing with something like zinc can knock your copper balance off. There's a delicate balance in the body, and women need to be very thoughtful before they start using supplements."

Heller explained that it's difficult to tease out the effect of any one particular nutrient. But, she added, "If a woman wants to shift to a more plant-based diet, it may contribute overall to reduced oxidative stress and inflammation, which may help reduce the symptoms of PMS, and heart disease and other conditions."

While the study found an association between dietary iron and zinc and decreased PMS symptoms, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

Learn more about premenstrual syndrome from the U.S. Office on Women's Health.

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