PMS and Calcium

The Research
Recent research suggests a common dietary supplement may be an effective treatment for women who suffer from PMS. Studies suggest that calcium might relieve premenstrual syndrome. Some researchers believe that disruptions in calcium regulation are an underlying factor in the development of PMS symptoms. The mechanism of exactly how the calcium regulation is changed throughout the menstrual cycle and why it creates PMS symptoms is still unknown.

In one study, 466 pre-menopausal women from across the U.S. were tracked for three menstrual cycles. Half the women were given 1200 mg of calcium supplements daily throughout the cycle. The other half was given placebos. There was no difference between the two groups in age, height, weight, menstrual cycle lengths, and the use of oral contraceptives. The final results showed that 48% of the women who took a placebo (sugar pill) had PMS related symptoms. Only 30% of those who got the calcium pill did. The women simply took a pill, not knowing if it was the placebo or the real McCoy, so their expectation that taking a pill would help them was not a factor.

Calcium Supplementation
Calcium supplements are inexpensive and are available without a prescription. They have virtually no side effects when taken at normal doses. Calcium supplements found in stores are in doses of about 1000-1200 milligrams/day, which is the same as this study. Of course, it is almost certain that getting the same amount of calcium through diet will have the same effect, so it is far from necessary to buy a pill.

Even if it does nothing for the woman's PMS, it will help guarantee that she gets enough calcium during her youth to build strong bones. Finally, perhaps this is a way to motivate young women to take calcium to prevent osteoporosis in their old age.

Maybe the milk industry should look into these findings. "Got PMS?"

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