Magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical processes in the body, from energy production to muscle function. We need magnesium for heaps of reasons, and it’s especially important for women. Here we look at some of the reasons why we need magnesium and how you can make sure you’re getting enough.
Magnesium and PMS
Studies suggest that magnesium alone and in combination with other vitamins and minerals may help alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS, including cramps, anxiety, stress, mood swings and bloating. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Women’s Health also concluded that daily supplementation with 200 mg of magnesium can help reduce fluid retention in PMS .
Magnesium also plays a crucial role in enabling your body to absorb minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, and vitamins such as vitamin D.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for PMS - calcium supplements have been found to help reduce bloating and fatigue, PMS-related sadness, mood swings, and anxiety, but magnesium is needed for the release of calcium from certain cells. Low magnesium levels keep calcium locked inside these cells and make the mineral unavailable.
The link between magnesium and migraines
Significant research has shown that people with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than those without them. One study found that regular intake of magnesium reduced the number of migraine attacks by over 40% , and another, that daily magnesium supplements can also prevent menstrual-related migraines.
Magnesium and menopause
Magnesium is important during menopause for so many reasons: bone support, healthy muscle function, thyroid function, energy production and happy mood and anxiety. Increased anxiety and low mood during menopause is surprisingly common. The hormones oestrogen and progesterone work together to regulate mood. Declining levels of these hormones during the menopause mean we are more susceptible to anxiety and even panic attacks. Research has found that magnesium may help with brain functions that reduce stress and anxiety . It is believed to affect the hypothalamus, an area in the brain that helps to regulate the pituitary and adrenal glands, which are responsible for your response to stress.
Magnesium may strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis
Magnesium is involved in bone formation through its influence on bone turnover, as well as its influence on vitamin D, which is also important for bone health. Magnesium may also play a part in keeping muscles strong and healthy, which can help to prevent falls and fractures, especially in the older population.
Magnesium can help with high blood pressure
Several studies show a clear link between magnesium intake and reduced blood pressure. Those who took magnesium were found to have both lower blood pressure and improved blood flow that, in turn, could lower blood pressure, plus the effect has been shown to be increase in line with dosage: the higher the intake of magnesium, the greater the drop in blood pressure. It is thought that magnesium helps the body release prostacyclin, a hormone-like compound that reduces tension in blood vessel walls.
Again, it also works alongside calcium and potassium, both of which are important for healthy blood pressure, enabling better uptake by the body.
Magnesium can improve sleep
By acting on the nervous system and instructing your muscles and brain to relax, magnesium can help you get to sleep. It would also appear to help you sleep better and for longer, and achieve a more restful night’s sleep.
How much magnesium do I need?
From eating foods reach in magnesium to choosing a supplement to up your intake, there are several ways to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium.
For women this looks like 310 - 360mg a day, and for men, 400 – 420mg.
Natural food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, spices, nuts, almonds especially, cereals, oily fish, dark chocolate and quinoa. But do be mindful that modern farming methods often leave our soils depleted of nutrients, meaning many of us obtain less-than-optimal amounts of magnesium from food.
Supplementing with magnesium
A magnesium supplement can help to keep levels topped up. PrizMAG Magnesium Bisglycinate provides filler-free, high quality magnesium and glycine, an amino acid that works hand in hand with magnesium to enhance its absorption. Lambert’s MagAsorb magnesium tablets are also absorbed really well by the body and a popular choice.
Not keen on tablets or capsules? Mag365 Magnesium in powder form is a great alternative, providing 100% natural magnesium that is easily absorbed and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. A passionfruit flavoured powder is also available.
There’s also Floradix Liquid Magnesium . Each 20ml serving provides 250mg of elemental magnesium, a slightly lower dose and a good option for those who already get an amount of magnesium from their diet.
Bathing in magnesium flakes can also help to restore magnesium levels in the body.Try BetterYou Magnesium Flakes