Can iron alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome?
Irritability, bloating, pain, and depression are all side effects of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. PMS can be a minor annoyance for some but debilitating to others.
Diet can play a role in the severity of PMS symptoms. A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst published in the American Journal of Epidemiology links a diet rich in iron and zinc with reduced symptoms of PMS. Women whose diets were full of plant-based iron were one-third less likely to develop symptoms of PMS than women who consumed less iron. Nonmeat sources of iron include dried beans and green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.
The study found women who consumed the most iron had up to a 40 percent lower risk for PMS than other studied groups. And women who consumed 10 milligrams of zinc per day were found to have a lower risk of developing symptoms of PMS as well.
Researchers are not sure why iron and zinc play such a critical role in PMS symptom reduction, but some suggest that it has to do with serotonin production. Iron is involved in serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and appetite. Low serotonin levels play a role in clinical depression, and other studies have previously linked low serotonin levels to PMS symptoms.
Women should know that supplementing a diet with high doses of zinc and iron is unadvisable, as these minerals could cause serious health problems if taken above the recommended levels. Zinc and iron obtained from natural food sources is recommended over oral supplements that supply zinc and iron.
There are other natural remedies that could help with PMS treatment and prevention. Increasing calcium and magnesium intake can help as both nutrients can relax muscles and alleviate cramping. Using evening primrose oil, which contains gamma linoleic acid, can reduce inflammation that may cause cramps and breast tenderness.
Although many women refrain from exercise when battling PMS, such activity actually may help ease PMS symptoms. Aerobic or cardio exercise reduces stress, boosts circulation, releases endorphins, and has been shown to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of PMS.
A well-balanced diet and exercise are two ways women might be able to relieve symptoms of PMS. Keep in mind that severe PMS is not typical and any emotional or physical symptoms that seem abnormal should be addressed by a gynecologist or family doctor.
Posted on Tue, August 19, 2014
by The Lafourche Gazette