Vitamin E, fatty acids pack a punch against PMS

By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 21st, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Bloating, acne breakouts, cramps, moodiness, headaches, fatigue — and not to mention uncontrollable chocolate cravings and snack attacks — all mark the joys of the week or two before “that special time of the month.” It’s known as premenstrual syndrome, or P-M-S.

Men, too, suffer the consequences of this tense time; just ask any husband who’s been the subject of a P-M-S-induced outburst over keeping the toilet seat up. But what if one little tablet — and not the birth control pill — could bring even the wildest woman back from the brink of hormonal breakdown?

Along with ibuprofen, exercise, and of course, a stash of good chocolate, researchers in Brazil say that women should add vitamin E and fatty acid oils to their anti-P-M-S arsenal. The study of 120 women, published in the Journal of Reproductive Health, found that those who took one gram of vitamin E and a combination of essential oils, like heart-healthy oleic acid, enjoyed significant relief from their symptoms over a period of six months. The group that took two grams every day experienced even greater respite from rants, cramps and mood swings.

Researchers are not sure why this calming cocktail helps kick P-M-S symptoms to the curb, but it might have something to do with the essential fatty acids’ effect on the production of chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins lessen the effect of prolactin, too much of which can cause P-M-S symptoms.

Besides taking vitamin E and essential fatty acids, calcium and vitamin D may help. Maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle low on stress and heavy on sleep and exercise also keep a woman happy and healthy. Cutting back on caffeine the week or two before your period can also keep cramps in check.

And, if all else fails, never underestimate the power of a few pieces of chocolate.