Magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the body – and it has a role in hundreds of functions. However, many women in the US are low in this important mineral – and you might be feeling the impact. The good news is that increasing your dietary magnesium and taking a daily supplement can quickly reverse symptoms and optimize your mood, sleep, menstrual cycles, daily elimination, and more!
It's also one of the minerals I recommend the most frequently in my medical practice – from my teen to wisdom year patients, and I want to share with you how simple it is to use to reverse the common symptoms that are related to having low magnesium levels.
Have a ready or a listen to learn the basics about magnesium for women and 10 specific ways it can help you improve your health and alleviate common symptoms – and in a short amount of time.
Magnesium for women – we're chronically low in it!
Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in which it serves as a co-enyzme – meaning the reaction can't happen without magnesium as a partner. It supports functions as wide ranging as keeping your heart rate steady to helping with the production of glutathione necessary for detoxification processes in your liver, bone formation and strength, protein synthesis, to keeping your blood sugar steady.
In addition to supporting healthy heart rate and bone health, here are 10 ways I use magnesium to support women in my medical practice:
- Reduces anxiety, stress, and improves relaxation by supporting the HPA Axis (adrenal stress response).
- Helps with difficulty falling or staying asleep when taken in the hour before bed.
- Promotes healthy estrogen levels: By supporting detoxification pathways in the liver, magnesium promotes the healthy excretion of estrogen, which may reduce the risk monthly breast tenderness, fibroids, heavy periods, and even endometriosis symptoms.
- Prevents and eases menstrual cramps and period pain: take for 3 days before your period starts, and for the first 2 days of your period. It may also be helpful with PMS.
- For constipation: take a specific form of magnesium called magnesium citrate before bed. If your stools get on the looser side, drop back a dose – the proper dose is one that gives you a healthy, easy to pass but still solid stool daily.
- Balances blood sugar and reduces cravings, helpful if you struggle with either in general, and perhaps even more important if you have PCOS.
- Prevents migraines and possibly menstrual migraines as well. Excellent alone or with 400 mg riboflavin (Vitamin B2) daily to overcome chronic migraines
- May reduce menopausal symptoms: Magnesium deficiency may play a role in hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia, and long-term complications such as osteoporosis. In one study, magnesium relieved this symptoms in women undergoing breast cancer treatment and thus were unable to use hormone replacement therapy.
- May play a protective role in thyroid health. The WOMED trial found direct correlation between magnesium levels and thyroid healthy; magnesium is also important for Vitamin D's important functions, including supporting the thyroid.
- Slows the effects of aging: Chronically low magnesium results in excessive production of oxygen-derived free radicals and low grade inflammation which play a role in many of the symptoms we commonly associate with aging from cognitive decline to wrinkles. Take magnesium daily to slow and reverse these effects.
While most of us don't have outright magnesium deficiency, low levels are common. Called magnesium inadequacy (or magnesium insufficiency), this occurs when intakes fall below the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) but are above the amount required to prevent overt deficiency.
You might wonder why we get low in magnesium. It's because the modern food supply strips our food of this nutrient, and depletes our bodies. Food processing, such as refining grains in ways that remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran, lower magnesium content substantially – another important reason to avoid processed, packaged foods. Also, coffee and soda, and some medications (i.e., proton-pump inhibitors for acid-reflux), deplete this mineral, and often, we're just not getting a varied enough magnesium-rich diet to keep up with our needs.
Fortunately, magnesium is found in a wide variety of super healthy foods. Dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources. Chocolate is rich in magnesium, too.
Supplementing with magnesium
Testing for magnesium is not easily available nor that accurate, so I usually jump straight to supplementing. At a modest dose it's quite safe for most people. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends an Upper Limit daily dose of 350 mg, but this is for general nutritional needs, not for symptom reversal, which I find often requires 500 to 1000 mg.day. Some studies use doses of 600 mg/day for certain conditions, reinforcing the need for higher doses at time. It's best to discuss the dose that's best for you with your primary healthcare provider.
I use two forms of magnesium for women in my practice – magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate. Both are easily absorbed, and the former is what i use for all of the above symptoms except for treating constipation, in which case I use magnesium citrate. Only the citrate form acts as a laxative – so if you're taking the other kind, no need to worry about running to the bathroom! You can also combine to two forms to achieve the right dose you need for an easy, regular, daily BM and reduce your other symptoms without getting loose stools from too much of the citrate form for you.
For some of these symptoms, for example, constipation, anxiety, or poor sleep if related to low magnesium, results may be seen in as short as a few days; for the other symptoms, it may 8 to 12 weeks of use to really get the benefits.
Are there any precautions?
If you have high blood pressure and are on medications for it, magnesium can add to the blood pressure lowering effect; while this might be a great thing because your doctor might be able to work with you to lower your BP medication dose, it can also contribute to your BP dropping too low, so check with your doctor before starting; ditto that if you are on any medications for hearth rhythm control. And if you have kidney disease, please check with your doctor before taking magnesium.
Is this safe to take while you are pregnant and breastfeeding? Generally, yes,, especially in the lower dosage range, and of course, what's in your prenatal vitamin, but for symptom treatment and higher doses, check with your midwife or doctor before taking anything while you're pregnant.
To your best health and happiest self.