Every month, for about a week, millions of women cope with debilitating menstrual cramps. Whenever they strike, most of us reach for NSAIDs, maybe some caffeine, and sometimes a heating pad -- rinse, repeat. But that routine can get old, sometimes it doesn't even help, and who knows what kind of toll it might be taking on your long-term well-being? Plus, wouldn't it be so much better to preempt the cramps before they begin?
Enter a new, small study from Italy, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, that found a single, high-dose (300,000 IU -- whoa!) of cholecalciferol -- aka vitamin D3 -- was linked to a marked reduction in menstrual cramps. (In two months, the average pain scores dropped 41 percent for women on vitamin D vs. no difference in pain for a placebo group.) Also interesting: All the women in the study had blood levels of vitamin D measuring in the lowest 25 percent of normal at the study's outset. A clue, perhaps?