Vitamins that may be helpful
In double-blind research, evening primrose
oil (EPO) has reduced symptoms of FBD,15 16 though only
slightly.17 One group of researchers reported that EPO normalizes blood levels of
fatty acids in women with FBD.18 However, even these scientists had difficulty
linking the improvement in lab tests with an actual reduction in symptoms. Nonetheless, most
reports continue to show at least some reduction in symptoms resulting from EPO
supplementation.19 20 Based on this research, many doctors recommend a
trial of 3 grams per day of EPO for at least six months to alleviate symptoms of FBD.
While several studies report that 200–600 IU of vitamin E per day, taken for several months, reduces
symptoms of FBD,21 22 most double-blind trials have found that vitamin E
does not relieve FBD symptoms.23 24 Nonetheless, many women
take 400 IU of vitamin E for three months to see if it helps.
As with vitamin E, the effectiveness of vitamin
B6 remains uncertain. Some,25 but not all,26 studies find that B6
supplementation reduces symptoms. Since vitamin B6 supplementation is effective for relieving
the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS),
in addition to breast tenderness, women should discuss the use of vitamin B6 with their
Some doctors use iodine to treat FBD
symptoms. In animals, iodine deficiency can cause the equivalent of FBD.27 What
appears to be the most effective form—diatomic iodine28 —is not readily
available, however. Some people are sensitive to iodine and high amounts can interfere with
thyroid function. Therefore, supplemental iodine should only be taken with the guidance of a
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.
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