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Research Insight – High Iron Reduces PMS Risk

In the first ever study to evaluate the association between dietary mineral intake and the development of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), it has been found that women who consume high levels of iron are between 30-40% less likely to develop PMS than those who consume lower levels.

The researchers conducted a case-control study nested within the prospective Nurses’ Health Study II.

All participants were free of PMS symptoms at baseline. After 10 years, 1057 women were confirmed as PMS patients and 1968 remained free from PMS.

Mineral intake was assessed by three food frequency questionnaires completed at four-year intervals during the study.

After adjusting for calcium intake and other factors, it was found that women in the highest intake group for non-haeme iron (the form found primarily in plant foods and supplements) had a relative risk of PMS of 0.64 compared to women in the lowest intake group.

The level of iron intake at which the effect is evident was greater than 20mg per day.

Publishing their results in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers also noted a marginal link between PMS and low zinc levels.

However, the level of zinc intake at which it may lower the risk of PMS is greater than 15mg per day.

An unexpected finding of the study was an increased risk of PMS associated with high potassium intake, which may be related to its role in regulating fluid balance in the body according to the authors.

Even though these results need to be replicated in further studies, these findings suggest that women at risk for PMS should make sure they are at least meeting the RDA for non-haem iron and zinc.



Chocano-Bedoya PO, Manson JE, Hankinson SE, et al. Intake of selected minerals and risk of premenstrual syndrome. Am J Epidemiol 2013;177(10):1118- 1127.

Gray N. High iron intake may help protect against PMS: study. NutraIngredients 1 March 2013, http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/High-iron-intake- may-help-to-protect-against-PMS-Study


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