Premenstrual Syndrome And Dietary Iron

by Ren Chats

Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is common. One in 3 teenage girls experience crippling pain and mood swings every month; almost for 10 days before the onset of menses.

It is also associated with general malaise and headache. Work efficiency gets a setback due to compromised capacity to concentrate during premenstrual phase.

Water retention gives painful breasts and an uneasy feeling of sudden weight gain, which further distorts self-image of young girls at puberty.

They lapse into phases of irritability and violent moods, or tearfulness and depression; and tend towards binge eating to overcome bruised self-concept.

Hormones triggered monthly struggle to keep up with social and academic competence has been a cause of major concern for young women. A new study published on Feb. 26, 2013 in American Journal of Epidemiology shows that green vegetables rich in mineral iron (nonheme iron) may diminish the severity of PSM symptoms by 30-50%.

It was also noted that high zinc intake in proportion to copper content in the food also had beneficiary effect on PMS related symptoms.

On other hand, high potassium content in the food and cigarette smoking have been documented to aggravate premenstrual symptoms. Tobacco smoking may increase the risk of moderate to severe PMS among teenagers.

Points to note:

1. Though more studies may be required to fully support the observations presented, the relief noticed by adequate iron intake could well be attributed to iron’s role in formation of neurotransmitters. Therefore, adding natural vegetarian foods rich in iron content in daily diet is a simple solution for the monthly premenstrual distress.

2. Excessive coffee consumption hampers iron absorption.

3. Mineral supplements should be taken only when prescribed by the doctor. Inappropriate dosage can have undesirable impact.


1. Intake of Selected Minerals and Risk of Premenstrual Syndrome: Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson et al; Am. J. Epidemiol. first published online February 26, 2013 doi:10.1093/aje/kws363

2. Cigarette Smoking and the Development of Premenstrual Syndrome: Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson et al; Am. J. Epidemiol. (2008) 168(8): 938-945 first published online August 13, 2008 doi:10.1093/aje/kwn194

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