Vitamin D Levels May be Linked to Menstrual Problems

Summary
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects 20 percent of women and most of the pharmaceutical treatments have an efficacy of only 70 percent. The causes of PMS are still uncertain but vitamin D could have a role in the onset of PMS and in turn cause its symptoms. The objective of this study was to assess vitamin D levels in a group of women with PMS and compare them with another group of healthy women. According to this study, a relationship between PMS and vitamin D is possible.

Introduction
PMS could lead to varying degrees of impairment. A few of the common symptoms are mood swings, anxiety, depression, breast tenderness and headaches. Vitamin D could reverse the symptoms by altering cyclical fluctuations in steroid sex hormones, increasing calcium levels and improving neurotransmitter function. Not many studies have established this relationship on young women. This study focused on college-aged women. It has also been shown that women with menstrual problems have had vitamin D deficiencies. Also, on evaluation of the relationship, it is unclear whether vitamin D deficiency is associated with the symptoms or whether the symptoms are caused due to a reduction in a type of dietary vitamin D.

Methodology
* This study included 186 healthy women aged between 18 and 30 years and was conducted between March 2006 and June 2008.
* A questionnaire was filled out and clinical examination was done in a single instance for all the women. A blood sample was collected from all the women and the level of a certain kind of vitamin D (25(OH)D3) was assessed.
* Statistical measures were used to analyze the association between the levels of vitamin D, the questions and PMS.

Results
* Smoking was more common in the women with PMS symptoms.
* Symptoms were more severe in women with less intake of dietary vitamin D.
* The levels of this type of vitamin D did not show an association with increased risk of PMS.
* Vitamin D, when taken in through food, showed some lower prevalence of PMS

Next steps/Shortcomings
The authors have indicated that this is a relatively small study. They attribute variations in finding to chance. The statistical correlation between PMS and levels of vitamin D were weak. The same goes for the correlation between PMS and dietary vitamin D. There is a possibility that laboratory errors could have altered 25(OH)D3 measurements.

Conclusion
Menstrual problems, specifically PMS, could be connected to levels of vitamin D. The higher the vitamin D content, the less severe the symptoms of PMS are. Various sources of vitamin D are dairy foods, cereals and some types of fish. Most people, especially the elderly and those with less exposure to sunlight, succumb to vitamin D deficiencies. Although a statistical correlation between vitamin D intake or levels and the severity of PMS symptoms was not proved, a comprehensive assessment of dietary vitamin D intake was completed. The results indicate that a relationship between vitamin D and PMS is possible. Further studies are to be completed to enhance this evaluation.

For More Information:
Dietary Vitamin D Intake, 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 Levels and Premenstrual Syndrome in a College-Aged Population
Publication Journal: The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, March 2010
By Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson; Patricia O. Chocano-Bedoya; University of Massachusetts, Amherst

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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