Magnesium and Women’s Health: What you need to know

Magnesium and Women’s Health: What you need to know

Magnesium is incredibly important for our bodies and health. It's like the quiet helper that supports over 300 reactions in our bodies, affecting everything from our muscles and nerves to our immune system.

Magnesium is also key in helping control our blood sugar levels, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, and is involved in processes that keep our hearts beating steadily and our muscles moving smoothly.

Despite its importance, magnesium doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, with many of us not getting enough of it from our diets.

In this article, we'll dive into the world of magnesium. We'll explore why it's so critical for our health, how it works in our bodies, and how we can make sure we're getting enough of it. So, let's get started and uncover the wonders of this indispensable mineral.

This article is quite long, so here are the top 3 points I’d like you to takeaway:

  • Magnesium Plays a Critical Role in Our Health: Magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, crucial for everything from energy production and muscle function to supporting heart health and regulating mood. Its importance spans wide, affecting bone health, cardiovascular function, and the management of blood sugar levels.
  • Magnesium is Particularly Important for Women's Health: Magnesium can help reduce period cramps, regulate mood, as well as reduce common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. It plays a crucial role in all hormonal life stages, including menstruation, perimenopause, and menopause, by supporting hormonal balance, enhancing sleep quality, and contributing to bone density, which is particularly crucial for post-menopausal women at increased risk of osteoporosis.
  • Getting Enough Magnesium with Food: Incorporate a variety of magnesium-rich foods into your diet, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. A magnesium supplement could be beneficial if you are not meeting your recommended magnesium intake - however, you should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement to avoid potential interactions with existing medications

What is Magnesium?

Why is Magnesium Important?

Magnesium is super important for keeping your brain and body in top shape, from helping control your blood sugar to boosting how well you perform in sports. But even though it's in a bunch of foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and beans, a lot of us aren't eating enough of it.

Think of magnesium as something your body needs everywhere - every single cell needs it to work right. Most of the magnesium in your body is in your bones, and the rest is spread out in your muscles, soft tissues, and even your blood.

Here are some things magnesium is involved in:

  • Energy Production: Magnesium acts as a cofactor in over 600 enzymatic reactions, crucial for converting food into ATP, the main energy carrier in cells, thus supporting vitality and endurance.
  • Protein Synthesis and Genetic Maintenance: It facilitates protein synthesis, is crucial for body growth, repair, and maintenance, and plays a significant role in DNA and RNA repair, ensuring genetic integrity.
  • Muscle and Nervous System Function: Magnesium aids muscle relaxation, prevents cramps, and regulates neurotransmitters, supporting cognitive functions and stress response.
  • Heart Health: It helps regulate heart rhythm, supports heart muscle function, and has a vasodilatory effect contributing to blood pressure regulation, reducing heart disease risk.
  • Bone Health: Magnesium works with calcium and vitamin D to promote strong bones, influencing bone mineral matrix and calcium metabolism, which is essential for preventing bone disorders.
  • Blood Sugar Control: By influencing insulin release and activity, magnesium maintains normal blood glucose levels, highlighting its role in metabolic health and diabetes prevention.
  • Migraine Prevention and Mental Health: Magnesium supplementation may reduce migraine frequency and intensity and has been explored for mood stabilization and depression treatment.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: It has anti-inflammatory properties that may protect against chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Sleep Quality: Magnesium helps regulate melatonin production and supports neurotransmitter activity that facilitates sleep, contributing to overall well-being.

What Types of Magnesium Are There?

Magnesium Citrate

  • What it is: Magnesium citrate is a form of magnesium that is combined with citric acid. This form is one of the most common and affordable types of magnesium supplements.
  • Benefits: It's often used (at higher doses) for its laxative effect and to treat constipation. It's also relatively well-absorbed by the body, making it a good choice for replenishing magnesium levels.

Magnesium Glycinate

  • What it is: Magnesium glycinate is magnesium bound to glycine, an amino acid. This form is highly bioavailable and gentle on the stomach.
  • Benefits: It's often recommended for individuals who need to correct a magnesium deficiency without the laxative effect. It's also great for its calming properties and is often used for its potential to improve sleep and reduce anxiety.

Magnesium Chloride

  • What it is: Magnesium chloride is a form of magnesium that dissolves well in water. It's available in oral forms and as a topical solution.
  • Benefits: It's used for magnesium supplementation and has a good absorption rate. It can be used in baths or lotions to soothe muscle aches.

Magnesium Lactate

  • What it is: Magnesium lactate is the end product of the binds between magnesium and lactic acid. It's considered to be gentler on the digestive system.
  • Benefits: Often used by people who require large doses of magnesium or who are sensitive to other forms. It's also used in food additives and some medications.

Magnesium Malate

  • What it is: Magnesium malate includes magnesium and malic acid, a compound found in fruits.
  • Benefits: It's thought to be effective in muscle pain and energy production due to malic acid's role in the Krebs cycle.

Magnesium Taurate

  • What it is: Magnesium taurate contains magnesium and taurine, an amino acid.
  • Benefits: It is often chosen for its potential cardiovascular benefits. Taurine may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health, making this form of magnesium beneficial for those with cardiovascular concerns.

Magnesium Sulfate

  • What it is: Also known as Epsom salt, magnesium sulfate is a chemical compound that can be dissolved in bathwater.
  • Benefits: It's traditionally used in baths to relieve sore muscles and reduce swelling. Its oral or intravenous forms are used in medicine for emergency treatment of certain conditions, like eclampsia during pregnancy.

Magnesium Oxide

  • What it is: Magnesium oxide is a type of magnesium supplement that acts as an antacid and a laxative.
  • Benefits: It's often used to relieve digestive issues like heartburn and constipation. However, it's less bioavailable compared to other forms of magnesium supplements, meaning the body doesn't absorb it as well.

What Foods are Rich in Magnesium?

Magnesium is found in many easily accessible foods; However, despite its wide availability, many of us are not meeting our recommended daily magnesium intake.

Foods rich in magnesium:

  • Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach, Swiss chard, and kale are excellent sources.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are particularly high in magnesium.
  • Legumes: Black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are rich in magnesium.
  • Whole Grains: Quinoa, whole wheat, buckwheat, and barley contain significant amounts.
  • Fish: Mackerel, salmon, and halibut are good sources of magnesium.
  • Dark Chocolate: High in magnesium and also contains antioxidants.
  • Avocados: A nutrient-dense fruit, high in magnesium among other nutrients.
  • Bananas: One of the most popular fruits, they're a good source of magnesium as well as potassium and vitamin C.
  • Dairy Products: Yogurt and milk can provide magnesium, calcium, and protein.
  • Tofu: A good plant-based source of magnesium, protein, and several other nutrients.
  • Seeds: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds are not only high in magnesium but also in healthy fats.
  • Nuts: Cashews, Brazil nuts, and almonds are particularly rich in magnesium.
  • Potatoes: With the skin on, they're a good source of magnesium, vitamin C, and fiber.
  • Dried Fruit: Figs, apricots, and dates contain magnesium as well as fiber and antioxidants.

How much would I need to eat magnesium-rich foods to hit my daily magnesium goal?

Let’s say for example that you are a woman in her 30s, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is approximately 310-320 mg per day.

Here are some examples of the magnesium content in various foods and how much you'd need to consume to hit 310-320 mg:

  • Spinach (cooked): About 1 cup provides 157 mg of magnesium.
  • Almonds: 1 ounce (about 23 nuts) provides 80 mg of magnesium.
  • Black Beans (cooked): 1/2 cup provides around 60 mg of magnesium.
  • Quinoa (cooked): 1 cup provides about 118 mg of magnesium.
  • Avocado: One medium avocado provides about 58 mg of magnesium.
  • Dark Chocolate (70-85% cocoa): 1 ounce provides about 64 mg of magnesium.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 1 ounce (28.35 grams) provides about 156 mg of magnesium.
  • Salmon: 3 ounces provides about 26 mg of magnesium.
  • Banana: One medium banana provides about 32 mg of magnesium.
  • Yogurt (plain, low fat): 1 cup provides about 42 mg of magnesium.

To meet the daily magnesium requirement of 310-320 mg, you could combine several of these foods throughout the day. For example:

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of cooked spinach (157 mg) + 1 ounce of almonds (80 mg) = 237 mg
  • Snack: 1 medium banana (32 mg) + 1 ounce of dark chocolate (64 mg) = 96 mg

Total: 333 mg

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency can be easy to miss as the symptoms are similar to a number of different conditions. Common symptoms include

  • muscle cramps and spasms
  • feeling tired all the time
  • feeling irritable or anxious more often than usual
  • trouble sleeping
  • constant headaches, including migraines.

Nonetheless, if you're experiencing changes in how you feel, it might be worth looking at whether you're getting enough magnesium in your diet.

Why is Magnesium Good for Women?

During Menstruation

  1. Easing Menstrual Cramps:  It acts as a natural muscle relaxant, reducing uterine muscle contractions by blocking calcium's entry into cells, thereby alleviating cramps. Magnesium also enhances blood flow by relaxing blood vessels, further reducing pain.
  2. Mood Regulation: Magnesium significantly impacts brain function and mood. It regulates neurotransmitters, controlling the release of stress hormones and boosting serotonin production. This helps in reducing mood swings, anxiety, and depression symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  3. Reducing Bloating: By managing the body's electrolyte balance, including sodium and potassium, magnesium aids in reducing water retention and bloating that often accompany the menstrual cycle.
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During Perimenopause

  1. Balancing Hormones: It supports the parathyroid and adrenal glands, crucial for hormone production and regulation, helping to balance hormone levels and alleviate symptoms of hormonal fluctuations common in perimenopause.
  2. Improving Sleep Quality: Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes calm and relaxation. It also regulates neurotransmitters and melatonin production, improving sleep quality and addressing sleep disturbances often experienced during perimenopause.
  3. Supporting Bone Health: As a vital component of the bone matrix, magnesium influences bone-forming and bone-resorbing cells, and enhances the conversion of vitamin D to its active form, essential for calcium absorption and bone health. This is particularly important for preventing osteoporosis as estrogen levels decline in perimenopause.

During Menopause

  1. Lessening Menopausal Symptoms: Magnesium may help reduce hot flashes and night sweats by acting as a temperature regulator and influencing the body's thermoregulatory processes. Its effects on the endocrine system could also play a role in managing the hormones related to these symptoms.
  2. Heart Health: Magnesium is beneficial for cardiovascular health, especially important post-menopause when heart disease risk increases. It aids in relaxing blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure, and maintains normal heart electrical activity, reducing arrhythmia risk.
  3. Mood Support: Similar to its role during menstruation, magnesium helps regulate mood during menopause by influencing neurotransmitter activity and stress hormone levels. This can be particularly valuable for managing the emotional and physical changes experienced during menopause.

What is the daily magnesium requirement for women?

The daily magnesium requirements do vary for women of different ages, as well as during pregnancy and lactation. Here's a general guideline for the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium for females of different ages and stages of life:

  • Children 1-3 years: 80 mg/day
  • Children 4-8 years: 130 mg/day
  • Girls 9-13 years: 240 mg/day
  • Females 14-18 years: 360 mg/day (400 mg/day for pregnant teens, 360 mg/day for lactating teens)
  • Females 19-30 years: 310 mg/day (350 mg/day for pregnant, 310 mg/day for lactating)
  • Females 31-50 years: 320 mg/day (360 mg/day for pregnant, 320 mg/day for lactating)
  • Females 51 years and older: 320 mg/day

These values can serve as a guide for daily magnesium intake. However, individual needs may vary based on factors such as overall health, dietary habits, and specific health conditions.

Magnesium Supplements: Safety and Considerations

Like many other nutritionists, I believe getting nutrients from food is always the best approach. Foods not only provide magnesium but also a whole spectrum of other nutrients and health benefits. However, there are situations where magnesium supplements might be necessary to address deficiencies or specific health needs.

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Medication Interactions

Magnesium supplements can interact with various medications, affecting their absorption and effectiveness. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Bisphosphonates: Used for osteoporosis, magnesium can reduce their absorption.
  • Antibiotics: Magnesium can bind with certain antibiotics, decreasing their effectiveness. It's advised to take magnesium supplements 2 hours before or 4-6 hours after antibiotics.
  • Diuretics: Certain types, especially loop and thiazide diuretics, can affect magnesium levels in the body.
  • Medications for Acid Reflux or Stomach Ulcers: Magnesium can affect the absorption of these medications.

Who Should Be Cautious

  • People with kidney Issues: Individuals with kidney disease or reduced kidney function should be cautious, as their bodies may not excrete magnesium efficiently, leading to a risk of toxicity.
  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: While magnesium is important during pregnancy, the dose and form should be carefully considered and discussed with a healthcare provider.

Before starting any supplement, including magnesium, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider. They can offer personalized advice based on your health history, current medications, and specific nutritional needs. This step is crucial to ensure that supplements support your health without causing adverse interactions or effects.


In Conclusion, magnesium is a vital nutrient that supports a multitude of functions in our body, from energy production and muscle function to heart health and mood regulation. Despite its critical role, many people don't get enough magnesium from their diet alone, highlighting the importance of being mindful about our intake. While food is the best source, supplements can help fill the gap, but it's essential to consider potential interactions with medications and individual health conditions. Consulting with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen is advised to ensure safety and effectiveness. Ensuring adequate magnesium intake, whether through diet or supplements, can significantly contribute to our overall health and well-being.