Article at a glance:
• Magnesium is vital for many different aspects of health, including female hormone balance.
• Often nicknamed ‘nature’s tranquiliser’, magnesium can help to support symptoms of PMS and ease the menopausal transition too.
• For PMS, magnesium may help to reduce anxiety and tension, balance mood, reduce cravings, relax painful muscle cramps and alleviate menstrual headaches.
• Magnesium may also help to balance the stress response which is crucial both for PMS and during the menopause. This powerful mineral also supports long term bone health which is a key consideration during the menopause.
Magnesium is the much-talked about essential mineral that’s involved in many aspects of your health. From energy production, muscle function, sleep and stress to bone, cardiovascular, nervous system and hormonal health; there are few bodily processes that magnesium doesn’t affect to at least some degree. Unfortunately, the average Western diet, packed with beige, lifeless, convenience food, and low in nutrient-dense, colourful, wholefoods doesn’t typically deliver enough magnesium to fully support these processes. Busy 21st century lifestyles are a constant drain on the body’s magnesium stores too. Needless to say, it’s true that most of us would benefit from adding more magnesium to our daily diets.
In this article we explore more specifically how adding more magnesium to your diet may help to support a range of PMS symptoms and help to ease the natural transition through the menopause.
Magnesium & PMS
Magnesium’s nickname of ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ gives some clue as to how beneficial this mineral can be in supporting symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). There are many symptoms that fall under the umbrella term of PMS, ranging from low energy, headaches, food cravings and muscle cramps to anxiety, tension, low mood and many more in between. PMS is estimated to affect 70 – 90 % of women during their reproductive years, and whilst for some the symptoms may be mild to moderate, for 30 – 40 % of sufferers they can be severe enough to interfere with daily life. PMS is a complex health problem with a range of possible underlying causes, so there certainly isn’t a magic bullet that can be used to beat PMS, magnesium does however come pretty close.
Women with PMS have been found to have lower blood levels of magnesium than those without PMS. For symptoms of anxiety and tension, magnesium may help to calm everything down, and some studies show that it works even better when combined with vitamin B6. Magnesium may also help to soothe and relax painful muscle cramps, balance sugar cravings, support a balanced mood and reduce menstrual headaches too. Stress is a common contributing factor to PMS and magnesium is a master at balancing out stress hormones, so it can be a great support in this respect too, tackling the symptoms of PMS right at the root cause.
Magnesium & Menopause
The menopause is not a health problem, but rather a natural transition process that every woman goes through. Every woman is born with a finite number of eggs (around 2 million!) and menopause happens when these literally run out and the monthly menstrual period no longer occurs. The balance of hormones changes and production of oestrogen in the ovaries declines. Common menopausal symptoms include hot flushes, low libido, thinning hair, night sweats, mood swings, headaches and increased osteoporosis risk. What’s interesting however is that as the ovaries start to produce less oestrogen, our bodies can produce a form of oestrogen from the adrenal glands. Since the adrenal glands also help us to deal with stress, it’s crucial to reduce and support stress during the menopause to ensure the adrenals are able to cope with these extra demands. Magnesium has a vital role to play here since it helps to support a healthy balanced stress response. Other menopausal symptoms such as headaches and mood swings may also benefit from additional magnesium in the diet.
Among many other uses in the body, the hormone oestrogen helps to protect your bones, so when oestrogen production declines during the menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases. Whilst calcium is an important mineral for healthy bones, so too is magnesium and this is often overlooked. Many people get good sources of calcium in their diet but most typical Western diets are lacking in magnesium. Not having enough magnesium may reduce bone growth, decrease bone cell activity and make bones more fragile. Ensuring optimal intake of magnesium before, during and after the menopause is therefore vital to support strong, healthy bones for life.
Magnesium in food & supplements
The best food sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, beans and sea vegetables such as kelp. And to give you an idea of how much you need to eat just to meet standard daily requirements you’d need the equivalent of 1 avocado, 1 cup cooked spinach, 1 cup cooked black beans and 100g tofu every single day! And for anyone with higher magnesium requirements, such as those struggling with PMS or menopausal symptoms these quantities would need to be increased. To achieve optimal daily amounts, especially for anyone with increased needs, supplementation is often recommended. Magnesium can be supplied either as a powder or tablet, and is best taken in the form of magnesium glycinate as it is optimally absorbed and well tolerated, even in higher amounts.
Many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diets and yet it is a crucial mineral for many aspects of health, including female hormonal health. Magnesium, or ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it is often known, can be an invaluable support for anyone struggling with PMS or unwanted menopausal symptoms; not least for its powerful ability to soothe and calm both mind and muscles, whilst also protecting long term bone health. The widespread benefits of magnesium make it a perfect partner for female hormone balance.
References available on request