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Vitamin E May Ease Menstrual Cramps

Women may find some relief from menstrual cramps by taking vitamin E a few days a month, according to a new study of 278 teenage girls in Iran. Half the teenagers were given 200 mg of vitamin E twice a day, starting two days before they expected their periods and continuing through the third day of menstruation. The other half received a placebo pill. Both groups were allowed to take ibuprofen as needed.

After four months, the girls who took vitamin E had cramps for less than two hours, on average, during their periods. That compared with 17 hours for those who did not take the vitamin. In addition, only 4% reported using ibuprofen, compared with 89% of girls in the placebo group.

Common menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are thought to result from the release of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause the uterus to contract in order to expel the uterine lining, resulting in menstrual blood flow. Vitamin E can inhibit the formation of prostaglandins -- and, potentially, menstrual cramps.

Source: British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, April 2005