About The Buzz: Dietary Iron and Zinc Can Help Decrease PMS?

TheBUZZ Dietary iron and zinc can help decrease PMS?

There is a relationship between nonheme iron, zinc and decreased premenstrual syndrome symptoms.


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, at least 85% of menstruating women experience a premenstrual syndrome symptom as part of their monthly cycle.¹ This may include bloating, headaches, fatigue, depression, and anxiety as well as other symptoms. Recent research indicates that PMS symptom relief may be related to consumption of nonheme iron and zinc. Foods high in nonheme iron include lentils, spinach and a variety of beans.


A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found an association between nonheme iron (iron from plant-based sources rather than meats), zinc and premenstrual syndrome symptom relief. The 10-year study included 3,000 women who participated in the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study II. Of the 3,000 women who submitted food frequency questionnaires, about 1,000 reported experiencing PMS symptoms. The women who consumed the greatest amount of nonheme iron had up to a 40% decreased risk of experiencing PMS symptoms compared to those who consumed the least amount of nonheme iron. The risk of PMS was the lowest for those women who consumed more than 20mg of nonheme iron daily and more than 10mg of zinc daily. (The RDA of iron for women who are not pregnant is 18 mg per day where zinc’s is 8 mg per day.) It is important to see your physician before supplementing with minerals because too much of one mineral may reduce the body’s ability to absorb and use another mineral.² ³ ⁴


Determining the effect of one particular nutrient can be difficult, especially in studies like this that provide an association but not a cause-and-effect relationship. However, shifting to a more plant-based diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is important for overall health. Consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in all forms (fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice) ensures your body is nourished with as many nutrients as possible. For most people, getting nutrients by eating healthy food instead of supplements will provide nutrition the way your body was meant to use those nutrients.

Check out these recipes featuring vegetables high in nonheme iron …

    • Lentil Cakes
    • Emerald Spinach Soup w/Tomato
    • Vegetable Frittata


¹ “Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Fact Sheet.” Womenshealth.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. View Article

² Chocano-Bedoya, Patricia O., JoAnn E. Mason, Susan E. Hankinsonet, et al. “Intake of Selected Minerals and Risk of Premenstrual Syndrome.” American Journal of Epidemiology (2013): n. pag. American Journal of Epidemiology. 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. View Article

³ “Iron.” Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Health Professional Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. View Article

⁴ “Zinc.” Zinc: Health Professional Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. View Article

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