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Magnesium – the go-to for hormonal health

Women's Health, Minerals | April 14, 2021 | Author: Naturopath

menopause, women's health, headache

Magnesium – the go-to for hormonal health

Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the body to maintain homeostasis. It is involved, as a co-factor, in over 600 biochemical reactions supporting bodily functions such as muscle action, insulin release and energy production. However, it is considered that most people do not meet the daily magnesium requirement resulting in symptoms of deficiency.  Measuring magnesium levels in the body is hard to establish as 60% is located in bone and teeth, 40% found in intercellular spaces and only approximately 0.3% of total body magnesium found in serum. Even a mild deficiency of magnesium can result in symptoms of irritability, mild anxiety, muscle contractions (tightness and cramps), weakness, fatigue, and digestive disorders.

Hormonal health, and symptoms affecting the hormonal system can be very distressing for many females. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability, cramping and sugar cravings may be helped by ensuring adequate magnesium is available in the body. This can be achieved through diet, by including certain foods and reducing others, or repleting with a good quality magnesium supplement.

Hormonal conditions helped by magnesium repletion 

Ensuring enough magnesium is available in the body not only helps mild symptoms of deficiency, but it can also help correct some other more disturbing disorders. 

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) including premenstrual dysphoria disorder (PMDD)
  • Perimenopause/menopause
  • Oestrogen excess - fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and associated Insulin resistance

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

PMS symptoms can cause so much distress that it interferes with normal daily activity and disrupts personal and family relationships. Common symptoms contributed to PMS include:

  • Nervous system disorders - anxiety, nervous tension and irritability
  • Sugar cravings
  • Fluid retention resulting in breast pain and fullness, bloating and swollen feet and legs 
  • Mild depression - this might include feeling isolated and dejected, sad or angry; wanting to avoid social interactions; finding it hard to concentrate on tasks; and sleep dysfunction - such as insomnia or restlessness
  • Somatic - this might include  temperature dysregulation (feeling either too hot or too cold); feeling flushed; needing to urinate more often; feeling nauseous; more sensitive to pain - such as headaches, lower back pain, arthralgia (joint pain) and muscle pain; changes in skin - such as excessive oiliness and acne.

Magnesium was found to be effective in reducing all the above premenstrual symptoms and even more effective when combined with vitamin B6.

Premenstrual dysphoria disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is similar to pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) but is considered more serious. PMDD symptoms include severe irritability, anxiety and depression occurring around the luteal phase (ovulation) and not resolving until a few days after menstrual bleeding has begun (1 -2 weeks).

  • The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle is when the corpus luteum is developing (the corpus luteum is a benign cyst producing oestrogen and progesterone in preparation for the possibility of conception - a nice bed for the baby. It begins at ovulation and will end if no fertilization has occurred with luteolysis - destruction of the corpus luteum resulting in menstrual bleeding and a reduction in progesterone. If fertilization (pregnancy) has occurred the corpus luteum continues. 

Females with suffering with PMDD are believed to the have an opposite effect to the normally calming effect of progesterone and instead suffer with severe symptoms of anxiety, irritability and depression. Progesterone elevates after ovulation and continues to increases until either to menstrual bleeding begins or fertilization occurs (in which case it continues to increase).

Symptoms experienced can be severe enough to need pharmaceutical intervention such as antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – known as SSRIs), contraceptive pill and/or analgesics (pain relief).

Magnesium can help normalises the action of progesterone and significantly improves symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Healthy oestrogen clearance

Magnesium can promote healthy excretion of oestrogen by supporting the COMT enzyme (catechol-o-methyltransferase) in the liver. Poor clearance is associated with conditions of oestrogen excess with symptoms of heavy and pain-full periods, fluid retention and weight gain. Excess oestrogen can contribute to the development of fibroids, fibrocystic breast and breast tenderness, and exacerbate endometriosis.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Females who have PCOS will often have an increased body mass index (BMI) even compared to women with similar calorie intake and physical activity. Insulin resistance is also a common symptom occurring with PCOS, especially in obesity. Studies have shown that these women often have a reduced dietary fibre and less magnesium intake. The take-home is insulin resistance and elevated levels of androgens may be reduced by increasing dietary fibre and magnesium intake.

Sugar cravings and Insulin resistance. Magnesium helps normalize insulin and increase cell sensitivity to insulin which helps reduce sugar cravings.

Menopause

Magnesium may help reduce uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause, such as difficulty sleeping, anxiety and depression while supporting bone and heart health post- menopause. Low serum magnesium is associated with low bone density in pre- and postmenopausal women and in-take positively associated with a greater bone-mineral density.

Reduced levels of magnesium can cause a reduction in vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption which is required for the maintenance of bone health, amongst many other activities. 

Cardiovascular health concerns can increase in women post menopause. Adequate magnesium levels are essential for:

  • stabilizing the rhythm of the heart
  • reducing cardiovascular abnormal clot risks
  • reduced risk of cardiac event (heart attack)
  • maintaining blood pressure
  • reducing risk of stroke

Other conditions associated with magnesium depletion which are often aggravated during the hormonal cycle include the stress response and migraine headaches.

Stress control. Magnesium can help with how the body responds to stress by calming the nervous system and offering a protective and regulatory role on exposure to a stressor. Chronic stress exposure may deplete many resources, including magnesium. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to benefit in times of stress by helping with fatigue, irritability and to support sleep.

Migraines and headaches. Sufferers of migraine have been shown to have lower levels of serum magnesium.

How much magnesium do you need?

Daily requirement of magnesium for adults is around 300 – 400mg. Orally consumed magnesium is stored in the bone and any excess is excreted through the kidneys in urine. Depleted soils where natural foods are grown, food processing and reduced intake are common reasons for the RDI of magnesium not being met.

Foods sources include leafy greens, nuts and chocolate.

Magnesium supplements are available in many forms - capsules, tablets and powders. Magnesium diglycine or bisglycinate offers added benefits as the amino acid glycine also helps to improve insulin sensitivity and offers a calming action on the nervous system. 
Click Here for more information on the different forms of magnesium and their uses

What can deplete the body of magnesium?

  • Coffee, soft drinks, sugar and salt and alcohol can increase excretion of magnesium from the body
  • Diuretics and other medication may also increase removal from the body

Magnesium – a magnificent mineral which may help alleviate many of the disturbing symptoms of PMS, pre- and post-menopause associated disorders and other disorders associated with the hormonal system. I can also help with how the body copes with stress and help with migraine and headache relief and prevention. 

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References

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-au/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/female-reproductive-endocrinology/female-reproductive-endocrinology?query=lutein

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luteal_phase

https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd

Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3208934/

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-au/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/uterine-fibroids/uterine-fibroids?query=fibroids

https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/magnesium-and-the-menstrual-cycle#:~:text=Magnesium%20promotes%20healthy%20estrogen%20clearance,low%20COMT%20function%20(10).

Estrogen: The necessary evil for human health, and ways to tame it https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0753332217353246

The impact of essential fatty acid, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc supplementation on stress levels in women: a systematic review https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28178022/

Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7761127/

The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effects of magnesium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and glucose control https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27329332/

Low intakes of dietary fiber and magnesium are associated with insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovary syndrome: A cohort study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6475723/

Magnesium: Are We Consuming Enough? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316205/

Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2018/9041694/

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