A huge dose of vitamin D3 may turn out to be the best way to relieve menstrual cramps. A small study conducted in Italy tested the effectiveness of taking 300,000 IUs against a placebo in 40 women with painful periods. The researchers found that average pain scores for the women who took the D3 dropped by 2.3 points on a scale of one to 10. What’s more, none of the women who took the vitamin reported a need to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, while 40 percent of those on the placebo said they needed to take a NSAID at least once. The D3 may have helped address menstrual symptoms by reducing production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that play a role in the contraction and relaxation of muscles and blood vessels involved in the menstrual pain. Still to be determined: how risky would it be over time to take 300,000 IUs of D3 once a month? The Italian study lasted only two months. The study was published in the February 27, 2012 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.