Findings of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition link a diet rich in B complex vitamins to a decreased risk of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The study found that women who ate foods rich in the B vitamins had an approximately one-fourth lower risk of developing PMS. Dietary sources such as fortified cereal, dried beans, red meat and spinach provided the benefit, but the same benefit wasn’t found for women who primarily get their B vitamins in the form of a supplement.
Nutrition is increasingly recognized as an important factor in women’s health. This study specifically looked at the link between dietary consumption of two B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin. Although researchers stated that the results of the study do not necessarily indicate that these vitamins act alone in providing the benefit, they did find that women who ate the equivalent of 1.9 milligrams of thiamine and 2.5 milligrams of riboflavin daily had lower incidences of PMS.
The study followed over 3000 women for a ten-year period. Approximately one-third of the participants experienced PMS symptoms during the course of the study. This is the first study looking at a link between nutrition and PMS, a condition the medical profession does not fully understand the causes of.
Severe PMS affects about one in six women and symptoms include bloating, irritability, anxiety and depression. Severe forms of the syndrome are treated using antidepressants or hormone-containing birth control pills. Women in the Rochester Hills, Michigan, area and elsewhere may want to consider dietary means of alleviating the effects of PMS as an alternative to medications that may have side effects and increased cost compared to diet changes.