Breathe a sigh of relief, ladies. It looks like a drug-free solution to PMS could be around the corner. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that women who got more vitamin D from their diet were less likely to suffer from PMS than those who ate less.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because when the sun’s UVB rays hit our skin we produce a precursor, which travels to the liver and then the kidneys to make active vitamin D. Although not rich in most foods, there are a few that can give us vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, eel, catfish)
  • Eggs (the yolk)
  • Beef liver
  • Cod liver oil
  • Mushrooms exposed to sunlight

It’s important to know some things about the study before giving yourself the cold liver oil treatment that your grandparents gave your parents. The study was cross-sectional, which means it’s just looking at a snapshot in time. What that means is that the researchers aren’t saying that eating a diet high in vitamin D will prevent PMS symptoms; they’re just saying that an association might be there. Also, although the study showed an association with a diet higher in vitamin D, it did not find a relationship with vitamin D levels in the blood.

Just like all vitamins, vitamin D is important and may affect weight, autoimmune diseases (such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes) and even asthma. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D, ask your doctor to run a blood test to check your levels before reaching for supplements, since taking too much may harm your health. To get more vitamin D, enjoy sunlight regularly (don’t go overboard, remember the risks of skin cancer) and vitamin D from the foods listed above.


About Erica Giovinazzo

Erica Giovinazzo is a graduate student of Clinical Nutrition at New York University. She has served as the Chair of the Student Committee of the Greater New York Dietetic Association, the ADA Student Liaison for New York University, and a volunteer with Keri Gans Nutrition, God's Love We Deliver, and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Nutrition Department. In the coming year, Erica is delighted to be in the NYU Dietetic Internship, and complete the training to become a Registered Dietitian.

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