Calcium Spells Relief For PMS

Relief is in sight for millions of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) sufferers. A new study says calcium supplements can substantially reduce PMS symptoms, including mood swings, bloating, food cravings and pain. CBS News Correspondent Liz Gonzalez reports.

Dr. Susan Thys-Jacobs, director of the Osteoporosis Center at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York, was the lead researcher for the study.

She says taking a daily dose of calcium supplements can reduce the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. She believes the supplements are a "simple, very natural therapy, very little side effects, it's not expensive, very safe and it addresses the overall symptoms."

The study, conducted over a three-month period, showed that mood swings, depression, irritability as well as general aches and pains associated with PMS were all reduced, after taking the calcium supplements.

Lydia Sixto, a study participant, says her life changed dramatically after taking the calcium supplements. "At the beginning I prayed for menopause to get rid of this problem. Now I'm happy, I don't have the fear I used to have."

The studies showed that the overall severity of the symptoms were reduced by 48 percent, psychological symptoms including depression and mood swings were reduced by 45 percent and aches and pains were reduced by 54 percent.

Dr. Thys-Jacobs' studies show that women with PMS have lower bone density. This may be an early sign of chronic low-calcium that could lead to osteoporosis, a bone-debilitating disease that often then leads to curvature of the spine.

"It's a red flag or warning, the body is telling the woman that she needs to consume more calcium" Dr. Thys-Jacobs says.

Women can get the calcium supplement from pills, four glasses of milk or three servings of yogurt a day. That may be the simple answer for millions of women who suffer from PMS.