Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is no joking matter. For me (read my PMS story for the details) and millions of other women in their reproductive years, PMS wrecks havoc on our daily lives. It is estimated that up to 75 percent of all women in their childbearing years will experience PMS symptoms. For some women, their PMS symptoms are a minor annoyance. For others, it can cause them to experience terrible mood swings, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. None of these symptoms are welcome – and we all want relief.
For women who want natural relief – as opposed to Midol and other medications – a new research study suggests that you can get relief from PMS symptoms naturally with vitamin E and a mix of essential fatty acids.
Participants were Given Vitamin E and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
In this study, researchers from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil looked at 120 women with regular menstrual cycles, who fit the diagnostic criteria for PMS or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder – a severe form of PMS). Each woman was given a list of PMS symptoms and asked to rate the severity of them.
The women were randomly placed into three study groups. One group was asked to take two pills: one with 1 gram of the active ingredient, and one with the placebo. The second group was given two pills – each had the active ingredient. The third group was given only placebo pills.
Each capsule of the “active ingredient” included a combination of 20 mg of vitamin E, 210 mg of gamma linolenic acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid found in plant-based oils), 345 mg of linoleic acid (another Omega-6 fatty acid found in plant-based oils), and 250 mg of other polyunsaturated acids. The placebo used in this study was mineral oil.
The participants were asked to take the pills for 15 days, starting on the 15th day of their menstrual cycle (15 days after their period starts). This schedule was repeated monthly for six months.
Women had PMS Relief in Three Months
After three months, the researchers found a significant difference among the groups. Women who were taking two capsules of the fatty acids/vitamin E combination noticed the greatest reduction in their symptoms, compared to the group only taking one capsule and the placebo group. Between the 1-pill and placebo group, the women taking the “active ingredient” had a reduction in their symptoms.
The difference was even more apparent after six months of treatment. In some women, the severity of their PMS symptoms reduced by over two-thirds. The researchers concluded that a higher dose of essential fatty acids resulted in a higher reduction in PMS symptoms.
The scientists believe that the combination of vitamin E and fatty acids makes the body less sensitive to the hormone prolactin – which has been linked to causing breast tenderness, bloating and water retention, anxiety, and irritability. This research was published earlier this month in the journal Reproductive Health.
You can read the abstract for yourself at Reproductive Health Journal.
The Bottom Line
While the researchers aren’t suggesting that women increase the consumption of fatty acids and vitamin E, this is definitely an interesting study. You may consider consuming more foods with these nutrients. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in many seeds and nuts, and vegetable-based oils (such as sunflower oil, vegetable oil, and corn oil). Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which helps protect your body from free radicals that may cause cancer and other diseases. Make sure you get enough vitamin E in your diet by eating wheat germ, corn, nuts and seeds, olives, spinach and leafy green vegetables, asparagus, and vegetable oils.
The American Heart Association warns that too much vitamin E (400 IU a day or more) may be harmful. A typical multivitamin stays within the safe limits.
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Sometimes, PMS symptoms are eerily similar to pregnancy. How do you know if you’re just premenstrual or you’re actually pregnant? Read more at: PMS or Pregnancy Symptoms?