According to a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2001;108:1181-1183), the pain of menstrual cramps can be eased by vitamin E. High levels of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins may be responsible for painful menstruation. Vitamin E can help block prostaglandin formation.

One hundred high school students aged 16 to 18 who reported experiencing mild, moderate or severe pain during menstruation participated in the study. Half of the students took vitamin E two days before and three days after they began menstruating, while the other half, the comparison group, took inactive placebo tablets.

At the 2-month follow-up, individuals in both the test group and the comparison group reported experiencing less menstrual pain than they did at the start of the study. Students in the vitamin E group, however, reported slightly less pain than those in the comparison group.