Magnesium and the menstrual cycle
Many women experience discomfort leading up to and during their menstrual cycle.
Can magnesium help? Magnesium is an essential mineral required for over 500 bodily functions. The benefits of magnesium may include cellular energy production, blood sugar control, bone mineral density, insulin function, blood pressure regulation, muscle function, nervous system regulation, restorative sleep, and more.
But what about menstruation?
Magnesium is often referred to as the miracle mineral for hormones and is used as an effective treatment for premenstrual-related symptoms.
This natural supplement has been shown to improve challenges associated with the menstrual cycle by acting as a muscle relaxant, regulating cortisol, and decreasing inflammation.
If levels are low, especially during the second half of the cycle, this can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms such as muscle cramps by increasing smooth muscle contraction and inflammatory compounds, known as prostaglandins, that are associated with increased pain.
Deficiency of this mineral is quite common, affecting up to 70% of North Americans.
Magnesium also supports healthy levels of progesterone, the dominant hormone in the second half of the cycle. Progesterone helps to counterbalance estrogen levels which can help to decrease PMS symptoms.
Low levels of progesterone are associated with decreased fertility but also irregular and abnormal menstrual cycles, mood changes, and migraines.
Signs of magnesium deficiency may include a range of symptoms including fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle pain, poor sleep quality, muscle spasms, nausea, and vomiting.
Food sources of magnesium can be obtained from leafy green vegetables, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, avocado, dark chocolate, whole grains, and tofu.
Magnesium can reduce stress
Magnesium is particularly beneficial for mental health as it provides calming effects and helps to ease nervous tension.
It can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety by decreasing oxidative stress, inhibiting the release of excitatory neuro- transmitters, suppressing HPA-axis activity, and supporting the activity of oxytocin (1).
With increased stress, the body dumps out more and more magnesium. This is a problem because during times of stress this is when you need magnesium the most!
Magnesium status is highly associated with stress levels and deficiency has been linked with increased anxiety and depressive symptoms and can decrease the body's resiliency to stress (2).
Magnesium supports a healthy GABA response, an inhibitory neurotransmitter and mood regulator (3)(4).
As mentioned, magnesium is also involved in the production of progesterone, a hormone that has calming and anti-anxiety properties. Progesterone can increase serotonin and dopamine in the brain, enhance GABA's calming effect and suppress the excitatory glutamate response (5).
Anxiety-related PMS symptoms have been associated with lower magnesium levels and supplementation can be used as a natural solution for the treatment of premenstrual mood issues (6).
A study found that 300mg of daily magnesium supplementation, alone or combined with vitamin B6, can provide stress relief and improve anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms (6)(7).
Magnesium may improve insulin resistance and help with PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine, reproductive and metabolic disorder affecting women of reproductive age that is frequently associated with insulin resistance. About 75% of women who experience PCOS have impaired insulin function (8).
What's more, women with PCOS are up to 19 times more likely to be deficient in magnesium.
Low levels of magnesium are associated with increased insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, thus managing magnesium status has been shown to play a significant role in the management of insulin resistance in PCOS (9).
Magnesium is not only a natural anti-inflammatory, but it also improves insulin metabolism and controls blood glucose levels.
This makes magnesium a powerful mineral for the treatment of PCOS but also insulin resistance and diabetes. Oral magnesium supplements have been shown to be useful for type 2 diabetes patients by improving insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, oxidative stress, and systemic inflammation (10).
Magnesium and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Physical symptoms and psychological symptoms during the menstrual cycle are not uncommon among women of reproductive age. These symptoms can appear up to 2 weeks before menstrual bleeding and may include bloating, painful periods, menstrual migraines, breast pain, mood swings, fluid retention, and even sugar cravings.
Known as the anti-PMS nutrient, magnesium is often used and recommended as a natural treatment for period cramps and PMS associated symptoms during menstrual bleeding.
Since magnesium has such a wide range of functions and benefits the body mentally and physically, it can help to ease many hormonal related symptoms such as alleviating migraines and headaches, reducing bloating, improving mood, and lessening cramps.
Low levels of magnesium can increase the risk of PMS as several studies have shown that magnesium levels in women with PMS were lower than in women without (11).
This mineral plays a significantly important role in hormonal regulation and supplementation has been proposed as a preventive and therapeutic approach to PMS (12).
Magnesium may help to prevent period pain
Menstrual cramps can be experienced as throbbing or cramping in the lower abdomen during or before bleeding and is reported to affect roughly 84% of menstruating women (13).
Also known as dymenorrhea, menstrual cramping is largely associated with hyper secretion of inflammatory prostaglandins from the uterine lining. These chemicals cause the muscles of the uterus to contract, causing pain. Women with dysmenorrhea have been shown to have higher levels of prostaglandins especially during the first few days of menses (14).
The good news is, there is a lot that can be done to find relief!
Magnesium can reduce menstrual cramp pain by reducing inflammatory prostaglandins, improving blood flow, and reducing spasms of the uterine muscles.
Magnesium also improves menstrual cramping by supporting progesterone production, yet again this hormone is involved! Prostaglandin production is largely controlled by progesterone and when progesterone levels drop before menstruation begins, prostaglandin levels increase.
The combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 in particular has been shown to be particularly effective and an affordable natural treatment for the relief of PMS and painful periods (15).
Magnesium supplements for menstrual cramps
Though magnesium intake is encouraged through the diet first and foremost, supplemental magnesium is often recommended as it's becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the adequate daily dosage from food alone and deficiency is very common. Many factors can also deplete magnesium levels including chronic stress, birth control pills, alcohol, prescription medication, processed foods, and coffee.
Magnesium status can be tricky to assess from blood serum levels which is why many practitioners recommend trying oral magnesium supplementation to see if it makes a difference for your health and symptoms.
Current dietary guidelines recommend magnesium intake of 310-420 mg daily in order to maintain health (16).
A daily dietary supplement can help to keep magnesium levels optimal and prevent magnesium deficiency.
When choosing a supplement it's important to be aware that there are multiple forms of magnesium and that the type of magnesium supplement does make a difference.
Magnesium glycinate is a popular type of magnesium as it is one of the more absorbable forms. It is also the most preferred for treating menstrual cramps. Why? This form includes the mineral bound to the calming amino acid glycine, which supports nervous system regulation, muscle relaxation, and insulin sensitivity.
Magnesium taurate is also often recommended as the amino acid taurine, that is attached to magnesium, is an important nutrient for mood, healthy estrogen metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
Shop Magnesium Supplements at Vitasave
Purica Effervescent Magnesium Glycine
Magnesium is truly a miraculous mineral and essential to our well-being. Yet Health Canada reports that over 40 percent of adult Canadians are deficient in this mineral. Calcium directly opposes magnesium within the body and a high intake of calcium — relative to magnesium — can throw off the delicate balance. PURICA® Effervescent Magnesium Bisglycinate is a delicious drink that will ensure you obtain the optimum daily dose of this vital mineral.
CanPrev Magnesium Bis-Glycinate Herbal Infusion
Sip on these two refreshing herbal infusion flavours: Berry Hibiscus and Wild Rosehip. These exuberant blends of gentle, highly absorbable magnesium bis-glycinate are herbally infused with hints of berry hibiscus, and rosehips with a dash of dragon fruit flavour. Two wild combinations designed to invigorate your taste buds and leave you wanting more. The good news? From our nervous system and bone health to proper muscle function, magnesium is needed for over 800 enzymatic functions in the body so getting enough is important for maintaining good health. Stir one scoop in some cold water and enjoy!
AOR Magnesium + Taurine
AOR’s Magnesium Taurate provides a balanced amount of magnesium and taurine. This combination is based on compiled research showing that magnesium and taurine share many similar physiological functions especially in various cardioprotective effects, and that taurine can help fulfill the role of magnesium during deficiencies.
Canprev Magnesium + Taurine, B6 & Zinc
Extra gentle magnesium combined with therapeutic levels of taurine, vitamin B6 & zinc, this formulation was designed for those seeking stronger cardiovascular support and maintain proper heart muscle function.
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