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A recent study led by Dr.Patricia O. Chocano- Bedoya of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has concluded that a diet rich in Vitamin B (Thiamine and Riboflavin) can lower the risk of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.

spinach_in_a_bowl.jpgDiet rich in Thiamine and Riboflavin can lower the risk of premenstrual syndrome

Fortified cereals, whole grains, beans, nuts and red meat are said to be rich sources of thiamine. Having two to three servings of this thiamine rich foods can lower the risk of PMS. As compared to women who consumed less thiamine, the women whose daily intake of thiamine was more than 1.9 milligrams of thiamine per day were found to be less likely to develop PMS.

Same holds true for riboflavin. Consuming around 2.5 milligrams of riboflavin every day through foods rich in it like milk, eggs, green vegetables and red meat (cow’s liver) can reduce PMS. What is the exact mechanism of action behind the development of PMS and how it is reduced is not known till date.

However, it is believed that thiamine and riboflavin are required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in the chain of events leading to the development of PMS. It is important to stress that thiamine and riboflavin lower the risk of pre menstrual syndrome when consumed in the diet rather when taken from supplements. The reason behind this cannot be explained completely but it may be due to the innumerable benefits that a wholesome nutritious diet brings.

Pre Menstrual Symptoms affect Women All around the World

Premenstrual symptoms affect all most all the women around the world. In fact, it has been found that one in six women word wide suffers from at least one PMS every month. PMS is a group of symptoms that a woman experiences several days before the start of her period. These changes may be physical or emotional and can be anywhere from mild to very severe and can disrupt her daily life. They occur during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and are relieved by the beginning of menstruation.

The physical changes associated with PMS include bloating, tenderness of breasts, abdominal discomfort, headache, joint pains and acne and may even lead to exacerbation of the symptoms of chronic diseases like migraine, epilepsy and asthma. The mental changes seen in PMS include irritability, anxiety, depression and a sense of loss of control. Though numerous hypotheses have been forwarded till date to explain these changes, but no proper conclusion regarding the pathophysiology of PMS has been derived till now.

As nothing specific can be fixed as the reason behind PMS, there are many treatments available which claim to be effective in getting rid of PMS. The symptoms are sometimes treated with birth control pills or antidepressants. If these symptoms can be controlled through diet, it will not only be a cheaper alternative but will provide many other benefits too without the deleterious effects of the medicines. Therefore, the role of thiamine and riboflavin, taken in the diet, in reducing the risk of pre menstrual symptoms appears promising. 

  • O Chocano-Bedoya, P., E Manson, J., E Hankinson, S. et. all. Dietary B vitamin intake and incident premenstrual syndrome. February 2011. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • M Wyatt, K., W Dimmock, P., W Jones, P. Shaughn O'Brien. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome:systematic review. BMJ 1999
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