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Tuesday, 28 February 2012 10:32

Early signs- Oral dose of Vitamin D May Ease Painful Menses

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Women Given Large Oral Dose Able to Skip Painkillers, but Approach Needs More Study

A single large dose of vitamin D may help women with painful periods feel more comfortable and skip painkillers, Italian researchers report.- WebMD newsreport. A small study suggests women inundated by menstrual cramps may find relief with vitamin D3, The study findings had raised the hopes  that the dietary supplement could one day be an alternative to the painkillers and birth control pills that doctors now recommend.

As the  treatment involves a mega-dose of vitamin D -- 300,000 IUs –the experts warns not to take at present, and further study is required to suggest the dose and repeatation of VitaminD."This study does suggest (vitamin D) may have a role for menstrual cramps and menstrual pain, but I certainly would not recommend taking doses this high at the present time," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, who heads the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Many women go through the difficult periods due to excessive pain and sometimes associated nausea, weakness, sleep problems. The menstrual pain is considered due to excessive production of hormone like stubstance –prostaglandins. Vitamind D is known to reduce production of prostaglandin.

Antonino Lasco, MD, of the University of Messina, and his team compared the use of the vitamin D dose with placebo pills. They studied 40 women, ages 18 to 40 complaining of painful menstrual periods, called as dysmenorrhea. Lasco's team randomly assigned the 40 women to get either vitamin D or placebo pills. The women took those five days before the expected date of period.
For two months, the women tracked their menstrual pain. They told whether they took any off-the- painkillers, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Findings suggest that almost half of women who menstruate feel reduction in pain. Those women  on vitamin D not only reported less pain, none said they took any NSAID painkillers during the two months.
Forty percent of the women on placebo said they took an NSAID painkiller at least once.

"We observed a significant reduction of pain in the vitamin D group compared with the placebo group over the two-month duration of our study," writes Lasco.

The study is published in the Archives of InternalMedicine.

Point to be noted-The dose used was very high: 300,000 international units (IU). The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends that women aged 19 to 50 get 600 IUs of vitamin D a day, with upper tolerable levels of 4,000 IU daily. Higher doses may cause health problems and can damage the heart, blood vessels and kidneys by raising calcium levels in the blood.
A shot of 300,000 IUs every two months would land a woman at an average 5,000 IUs a day -- above the tolerable limit.

Expert’s view
Tarek Bardawil, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine, warns- Women shouldn't try this approach on their own, "The number of patients studied is very few," he says. "The dose is very high. Before we jump to conclusions, we need further studies." He reviewed the findings for WebMD

Researcher's view
The lead researcher JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH, of Harvard Medical School, and Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, ScD, of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst believed that this study is the  first to look at vitamin D for painful periods. However, they say the study is a starting point only. Larger studies are needed, with longer follow-up.  It's not known whether a single dose would be enough. If repeat doses are needed, the focus needs to be on keeping the dose at a safe level, they say.

"I think it would be reasonable if a woman is having severe menstrual cramps to try a moderate dose and see if she gets relief, but stay below what the Institute of Medicine recommends as the higher level," said Manson.
"We should consider the other mega-dose vitamin studies to be cautionary tales," Manson said. "It is import that the enthusiasm for vitamin D not outpace the evidence. We don't want everyone taking 300,000 IUs for preventing menstrual cramps."

"I would call it more of a pilot study," says Bardawil. "The rationale to use 300,000 IU needs to be justified." -WebMD

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