The current research followed about 3,000 women enrolled in the U.S. Nurses' Health Study II. None of the women reported having PMS at the start of the study.
Over 10 years, the women completed three food-intake questionnaires. At the end of the study, 1,057 women reported PMS, and the remaining 1,968 women did not.
After adjusting the data for calcium intake and other factors, the researchers found that the women who consumed the most non-heme iron had up to a 40 percent lower PMS risk compared to the women who consumed the least non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is iron that comes from plant-based sources or supplements, rather than from meat.
The risk of developing PMS dropped significantly for women who consumed more than 20 milligrams (mg) of iron daily. The lowest risk was seen in women consuming nearly 50 mg of iron daily. However, the recommended daily intake for premenopausal women is 18 mg per day, according to Bertone-Johnson.
As for zinc, a slightly protective effect for women consuming more than 10 mg daily was also seen.
But, Bertone-Johnson cautioned, both of these minerals can be harmful if taken at above average levels.
The researchers found that higher potassium levels were linked to higher levels of PMS, although Bertone-Johnson said these and other findings from this research need to be confirmed in other studies. Interestingly, the researchers didn't find a connection between sodium, which can make you retain water, and PMS.
"PMS is probably multifactorial, and it's probably way more complicated than one or two supplements or mineral deficiencies might cause," said Dr. Fredric Moon, medical director of general obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.
Moon advised women to check with their doctors before starting any type of supplements. Iron levels can be checked with a simple blood test, he said.
Clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller,
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