There are various ways to treat PMS, but no way to prevent it. Now a strong clue comes from University of Massachusetts researcher Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, ScD, and her Harvard University colleagues. The researchers analyzed data collected over 10 years from nurses 27-44 years old participating in a long-term health study -- including more than 1,000 women with PMS.
"We found women with high intakes of both calcium and vitamin D did have significantly reduced PMS risk," Bertone-Johnson tells WebMD. "Those who ate about four servings a day of low-fat dairy or yogurt or fortified orange juice had a 40% lower risk of PMS than those who did not. That is about 1,200 milligrams of calcium or 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day."
The findings appear in the June 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
The recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 400 IU. Recommendations for calcium for adult women vary by age:
Women 19 to 50 years old need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily.
Women 51 and over need 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily.
Women badly need this much calcium and vitamin D, says gynecologist Stephen Bashuk, MD, of Emory University.
"Women in the 18-30 age group at risk for PMS are in the prime of their bone mineralization years," Bashuk tells WebMD. "Every woman of childbearing age should be on calcium for her bones. Every women needs to be doing this to build up bones so she has less chance of dangerous fractures in her later years."
The women in Bertone-Johnson's study were all nurses. Yet only one in five was getting close to the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D in her diet. Few were taking calcium supplements, so the study does not specifically address the issue of whether calcium and vitamin D supplements are needed. Yet Bashuk says the study gives women yet another reason to make sure they get enough calcium.