According to a new U.S. study published in the online edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, boosting your intake of foods rich in B vitamins can significantly lower the odds you’ll suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
PMS is a collection of symptoms affecting women in their reproductive years that generally appear within 2 weeks prior to their period. Symptoms of PMS can vary greatly and may be emotional, psychological or physical in nature. Some of the more common symptoms include abdominal pain, headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, irritability, depression, tension, anxiety, lack of energy, angry outbursts and withdrawal. A whopping 95% of women in their reproductive years experience at least some of these symptoms each month. In 5% of women, these symptoms are so severe that they negatively impact their health, ability to function at work, and the quality of their relationships with others.
In the study, U.S. researchers followed 6,000 healthy women for 10 years during which time they were asked about their diet, supplement use and presence of PMS symptoms. After 10 years, 1,057 women were confirmed to have PMS.
A high intake of two B vitamins from foods – thiamin (B1) and riboflavin (B2) – was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing PMS.
Here are some lifestyle and dietary changes that can help with PMS.
1. Eat complex carbohydrates. Whole grains, sweet potatos, legumes, fruit and starchy vegetables improve mood and reduce food cravings. It’s thought these foods help increase the level of serotonin in the brain.
2. Cut down on sodium. Cutting salt can reduce fluid retention, bloating and weight gain.
3. Increase calcium. Women who consume about 1,200 mg of calcium a day from their diet have a 30% lower risk of developing PMS symptoms. Clinical trials have also shown that giving women 1,000 to 1,200 mg of supplemental calcium a day for 3 months significantly improved mood swings, fluid retention, food cravings and painful cramps.
4. More magnesium. Women who take 360 mg of supplemental magnesium a day report better mood and less fluid retention. The mineral may also reduce premenstrual migraines. Magnesium-rich foods include spinach, Swiss chard, kale, almonds, peanuts, cashews, lentils, soybeans, tofu, wheat bran and yogurt.
5. B vitamins. Taking 100 mg of B6 a day seems to decrease overall PMS symptoms, especially depression. B6 is needed for the production of neurotransmitters that effect mood. You can find this amount in a supplement that contains all other B vitamins. Do not exceed 100mg – in this case, more is not better and can even be toxic. Stick to 100 mg or less.