A team from Tarbait Modarres University in Iran studied just under 280 teenage girls with primary dysmenorrhoea, a condition that affects around 40 per cent of women.
About 10 per cent of women experience pain that is severe enough to disrupt their daily activities.
The Iranian girls, aged between 15-17, took 200 IU of vitamin E twice a day or a placebo over four consecutive menstrual periods.
They were asked to rate the pain they experienced during each period, and how many painkillers they took. The amount of blood lost was also monitored.
The girls who took vitamin E reported significantly lower intensity of pain, which was reflected in a reduction in the number of painkillers they took, write the researchers in this month's issue of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (vol 112, issue 4, pp466).
The vitamin group also experienced shorter duration of pain and less blood loss than the placebo group.
"The use of vitamin E for dysmenorrhoea in adolescent women is attractive because of the marked effect we have demonstrated, coupled with the absence of significant side effects from vitamin E in therapeutic doses," added the authors.
The findings support results reported in the same journal in 2002 that found benefits from taking 500 IU of vitamin E over two consecutive periods.
There is also some evidence that taking thiamine (vitamin B1) or magnesium supplements can help reduce period pains, while new research suggests that fish oil may help reduce pain too.