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July 18, 2019  
UTERINE NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Got PMS, Get Milk

    Got PMS, Get Milk


    August 08, 2005

    By: Elaine Gottlieb for Uterus1

    A quart of milk a day may keep the PMS symptoms away. That’s the conclusion of a new study which found that eating foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing PMS.
    Take Action
    Boost your nutrient intake:

    Consult your doctor to discuss your calcium and other nutrient needs, based on your health history and risk factors, and the best way to meet them.

    Read food labels – the nutrition facts listed on food labels can tell what percentage of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium and vitamin D the food provides.

    Women ages 19 – 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 milligrams of Vitamin D daily.

    Women 51 and older need 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily and from 400 – 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin D each day depending on age.


    The results go beyond earlier studies which found that calcium can minimize existing PMS symptoms but not prevent them. Currently, 8 to 20 percent of women experience the severe symptoms of PMS – including mood swings, breast tenderness, fatigue and cramps – that can affect everyday activities.

    What the study showed

    A team of researchers led by Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, Sc.D, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, compared the calcium and vitamin D intake in 1,057 women aged 27-44 years participating in the long-term Nurses Health Study II who developed PMS over a 10-year period with 1,968 women who did not.

    The study, reported in the June 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that high calcium and vitamin D intake had a major impact in the development of PMS. Women who ate four servings a day of skim or low-fat milk, fortified orange juice or low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, had a 40 percent lower risk than women who only consumed these foods about once per week. That translates to 1,200 mg. of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D. Eating both is important since vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. “The two nutrients have a stronger impact together than independently. Vitamin D had a slightly greater effect than calcium,” said Bertone-Johnson.

    The study results are only preliminary until a clinical trial is conducted. But “because our findings are similar to earlier studies and these nutrients have other benefits, women should talk to their physicians to make sure they are getting enough of both,” she said.

    Why calcium and vitamin D affect PMS is not known; one possibility is that calcium deficiency has similar symptoms as PMS, according to Bertone-Johnson.

    Two nutrients, many health benefits

    The health benefits of calcium and vitamin D go far beyond menstrual symptoms. They have been found to lower the risk of colorectal cancer and help maintain strong bones and teeth. The crucial age range for building bones is 18-30, the same as the highest risk for PMS, which makes calcium and vitamin D essential nutrients for women of all ages.

    Yet most women do not meet the recommended daily allowances for calcium and vitamin D intake, which are: For women 19-50 - 1,000 mg calcium and 400 mg Vitamin D; Pregnant or nursing women - 1,000 - 1,200 mg calcium and 400 mg Vitamin D; and for women over 50 - 1,200 mg calcium and 400 mg Vitamin D (600 - 1,000 mg for women over 70).

    Calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods: From yogurt to seafood

    Even if you answer no to “got milk?” you can still get your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D. There are many sources available, to meet the needs of everyone from vegans to the dairy-intolerant. Foods high in calcium include:

    *Milk – 1 cup = 300 mg calcium
    Yogurt (low-fat or nonfat) – 1 cup = 300 mg calcium
    Hard cheese – 1 oz. = 300 mg calcium
    Calcium-fortified orange juice – 1 cup = 300 mg calcium
    Calcium-fortified soy milk – 1 ¾ cups = 300 mg calcium
    Canned salmon with bones – 1 ¾ cups = 300 mg calcium
    Sardines – 5 oz = 300 mg calcium
    Almonds – ½ cup = 163 mg calcium
    Broccoli – 1 cup = 190 mg calcium
    Collard greens – 1 cup = 282 mg calcium

    Vitamin D found in many of the same foods as calcium, particularly dairy products, fish liver oils and oil-rich fishes such as salmon, tuna and herring. And of course, the body produces vitamin D from sunlight.

    To be sure you get enough of these valuable nutrients, nutritionists recommend supplements, which have been shown to relieve PMS symptoms.

    * The study found low-fat and skimmed milk reduced PMS risk; whole milk, perhaps because it is higher in saturated fat, has been associated with a higher incidence of PMS.


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    If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in the following:
    Psychological Distress Associated with Menstrual Problems – An Under-Funded Public Health Issue (Parts 1 and 2)

    Last updated: 08-Aug-05

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