Written By: Kristen Boye
As a health-conscious person, you’ve probably heard about the health benefits of Magnesium.
From Magnesium pills and creams to Magnesium-infused hot cocoa mixes and bath salts, Magnesium has become the “it” mineral of the modern wellness space.
Magnesium has been the subject of several research studies, many of which suggest it may offer specific benefits to women.
In this article, you’ll learn all about Magnesium’s benefits for women, how much to aim for per day, the best food sources, and how to get enough Magnesium in your diet.
Meet Magnesium: The Essential Mineral Many People Aren’t Getting Enough Of
Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. (1)
It also plays a vital role in things like hormonal balance, relaxation and stress response, sleep, mood, bone health, energy production, cardiovascular function, glucose metabolism, digestion, and more.
Unlike other nutrients, like iron, that can be measured by blood or hair analysis, Magnesium status is difficult to determine because 99% is stored in bone, muscles, and non-muscular soft tissue, with up to 60% stored in bone and less than 1% in the blood. (2)
However, Magnesium status can be compromised by various factors, including: (3,4,5,6)
- Age: Our ability to absorb Magnesium can reduce up to 30% as we age
- Eating a standard Western diet devoid of Magnesium-rich foods while being heavy in processed foods
- Taking certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors and birth control pills
- Physical and mental stress
- Water softeners
- Reverse osmosis water filters, which remove all minerals
- Pre-existing conditions
- And other lifestyle factors
The best defense against Magnesium deficiency or insufficiency is to be aware of what may deplete it and to eat a healthy and diverse whole-foods-based diet.
Some of the best sources of Magnesium include:
- Dairy products
- Dark Chocolate
- Leafy green vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Potatoes with the skins on
- Whole grains rich in fiber (7)
How Much Magnesium Do You Need Daily?
Although recommendations vary, The Institute of Medicine recommends 310–360 mg and 400–420 mg for adult women and men.
Your healthcare practitioner may recommend more or less depending on your body, diet, lifestyle, and unique needs. (8)
There is still much to learn about how Magnesium impacts various aspects of bodily function—and some people may require more than others.
Always check with your healthcare practitioner for individual recommendations.
6 Magnesium Benefits for Women
Everyone needs to consume enough Magnesium regardless of gender.
However, as discussed in the introduction, getting enough Magnesium through diet and/or supplementation may have specific benefits for women.
1. Magnesium May Help You Sleep
No matter what season of life you’re in, from parenting new babies to menopause, getting enough sleep can be a challenge for women.
Plus, studies have also shown women tend to have more sleep problems than men. (9)
Although there are various reasons behind occasional sleeplessness, such as stress, life events, travel, etc., research suggests Magnesium may help.
For example, a small study suggests Magnesium may support sleep by promoting normal cortisol levels and concentrations of other sleep- and stress-related neurotransmitters and hormones in aging individuals, which may improve sleep quality. (10)
Magnesium also helps your body relax via its effects on the parasympathetic nervous system, and plays a role in melatonin production. (11,12)
Further, Magnesium is known as the “anti-stress mineral” for its potential benefits on the stress response, and topical use, such as an Epsom Salt bath, promotes muscle relaxation, which may also contribute to better sleep.* (13)
2. Magnesium May Provide Benefits For Menstruating Women
Many women suffer from various symptoms related to their menstrual cycles.
From occasional cramping to mood swings and sleep disturbances, premenstrual or menstrual symptoms can range from annoying to disruptive.
Low Magnesium status may also be a factor in a woman’s risk of period problems. (14)
Several studies suggest supplemental Magnesium or Magnesium plus vitamin B6 may help ease occasional symptoms associated with menstruation, including bloating or fluid retention and other PMS symptoms. (15,16,17)
More research is needed.
3. Magnesium Supports A Normal Stress Response
As mentioned previously, Magnesium is also known as “the anti-stress mineral” due to its effects on the nervous system and HPA (hypothalamus pituitary adrenal) Axis, which regulate stress hormones and neurotransmitter production. (18)
Research has also shown that physical or mental/emotional stress can also deplete Magnesium, which can create a vicious cycle. (19)
And several studies report that low Magnesium status may be a factor in those undergoing psychological stress. (20)
A growing body of anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests getting enough Magnesium can help support your body’s stress response, especially during stressful times.
4. Magnesium Is Essential For Bone Health
Most women are well aware of the importance of Calcium and Vitamin D for supporting bone health and function.
Yet, few of us have been educated about Magnesium's critical role.
For example, research has shown Magnesium supplementation may support:
- Normal bone turnover in postmenopausal women (21)
- Bone mineral content in pre-teen and teen girls (22)
- And contributes to bone formation in all people (23)
As nature would have it, Magnesium is found in many of the same foods as Calcium, such as leafy greens and dairy products. Proof that these two minerals belong together.
5. Magnesium May Provide Various Benefits During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of euphoria and various unwanted symptoms, such as occasional aches and pains, leg cramps, and occasional constipation.
For times like these, consider asking your doctor or midwife about Magnesium.
Studies have shown getting enough Magnesium may support a healthy pregnancy by:
- Helping ease pregnancy-induced leg cramps (24)
- Supporting normal elimination (25)
- Possibly playing a role in helping reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia (results are mixed) (26)
- Soothing muscle aches and pains when taken as an Epsom Salt bath
A 2014 Cochrane Review concluded more robust, high-powered studies are needed to study and validate the benefits of Magnesium supplementation during pregnancy. (27)
The safest way to take Magnesium during pregnancy is by eating Magnesium-rich foods.
Always check with your doctor or midwife before taking a Magnesium supplement.
6. Magnesium May Support Normal Iron Levels In Women
Although long-term use of certain Magnesium-containing over-the-counter products, such as proton pump inhibitors, can interfere with iron absorption, new research suggests the right amount of supplementation may support normal iron levels.
A small study of 100 female students found Magnesium supplementation led to an improvement in certain iron status parameters, even in individuals with optimal levels. (28)
Although more research is needed, this may provide insight into why iron deficiency is so prevalent in women of childbearing years.
How To Start Getting More Magnesium Into Your Body
As you can see from the research shared, getting enough Magnesium is critical to supporting women’s health.
Eating enough Magnesium-rich foods, like the ones listed above, is the best way forward.
However, some women also consider Magnesium supplementation or topical Magnesium products such as creams, gels, regular Epsom Salt baths, or a combination.
Check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner for individual recommendations and start reaping the benefits of Magnesium for women’s health today.
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