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Iron-Rich Diet Might Ease PMS Misery
Date:2/26/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Millions of American women know the pain and emotional tumult of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. But a new study finds that diets full of iron from plant-based sources might help ease the condition.

Women who ate in this way were about one-third less likely to develop PMS than women who consumed less iron, the researchers found. Non-meat sources of iron include dried beans and green leafy vegetables.

Another mineral makes a difference, the study found. Higher levels of zinc were also associated with less PMS over the 10-year study period. Zinc occurs in many fresh fruits and vegetables.

"It does look like a range of minerals are important for menstrual cycle health and for PMS. Women should consume a balanced diet, and if they're not getting enough nutrients from their diet, they should take a multivitamin," recommended senior study author Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Bertone-Johnson said the researchers don't know exactly why iron might be associated with less PMS, because iron is involved in many processes in the body. They think higher levels of iron might reduce the pain and emotional symptoms of PMS by boosting levels of a brain chemical called serotonin. Low serotonin levels play a role in clinical depression, and Bertone-Johnson said that serotonin has been linked to PMS symptoms in other research.

As with iron, Bertone-Johnson said it wasn't clear how higher levels of zinc might protect against PMS.

Results of the study were published online Feb. 26 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

PMS affects between 8 percent and 15 percent of women in their reproductive years, according to study background information. Symptoms can be physical or emotional, and may include breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, appetite changes, depression a
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