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Getting More Zinc and Iron May Help Women Avoid PMS

Premenstrual syndrome can have a serious effect on certain women every month. A recent study shows that consuming more than 20 mg per day of iron may lower the risk of PMS by 30-40%. Consuming at least 15 mg of zinc was also found to confer some benefit in combating PMS.

The researchers chose 3,000 participants in the Nurses' Health Study II who were free of PMS at the beginning of the study. At the end of the study, 1,057 of the women had been diagnosed with PMS. During the ten year study period, all of the participants completed food frequency questionnaires at baseline, 4 years later, and at the end of the study to assess mineral intake.

Women with the highest intake of iron derived from plants and supplements were up to 40% less likely to develop PMS compared to women with the lowest intake. Both the 20 mg of iron and the 15 mg of zinc consumed daily by the women with the highest intakes were higher than the current recommended levels for premenopausal women (18 mg and 8 mg, respectively).

The researchers also found that women with higher levels of potassium were more likely to develop PMS, which they attributed to the fact that potassium plays a role in managing the balance of fluids in the body.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvard University. It was published online ahead of print on February 26, 2013, in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Because iron is essential for healthy blood, iron consumption affects everything from muscle function to brain function to regulation of body temperature.

If you’re looking to add more iron to your daily diet, try to eat more lean, low-fat red meats. If you’re a vegetarian or just prefer not to consume too much meat, try legumes, lentils, soy beans, whole grains and green leafy vegetables as they are great dietary sources of iron.

An essential mineral, zinc has been linked to maintaining a healthy immune system, healing wounds, helping with growth, supporting the reproductive system, and better eye health.

Zinc can be found in many foods, including oysters, beef, crab, fortified cereals, lobster, beans, yogurt, nuts, milk, chicken, cheese, and oatmeal. You can also consume zinc in a supplement form, but be careful not to take too much. Intakes of greater than 150 mg per day have been associated with negative side effects, such as a weakened immune system.

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