Updated: Nov 8
Magnesium is one of those minerals we all hear about but might need help understanding.
It's an essential mineral that plays a vital role in numerous physiological processes in the body. The list of where it is involved is limitless: energy production, bone health, muscle function and relaxation, heart health, mood and stress management, and blood sugar regulation. It is responsible for over 600 enzyme reactions in all your tissues.
As a nutritional therapist, I've seen first-hand the transformative power of magnesium, especially for women navigating menopause.
Factors that Deplete Magnesium.
Our modern lifestyle and dietary choices can deplete our magnesium levels. Here's what might be draining you of this essential mineral:
Overconsumption of caffeine or fizzy drinks
Certain medications (such as antibiotics and diuretics)
Chronic gut issues
Sugar and alcohol
It is possible to test for magnesium levels, but, to be honest, the blood tests are considered inaccurate. You don't need to test; simply try adding magnesium-rich foods or a low-dose supplement and see how you go. Low-dose supplements will probably not hurt you, but too much can lead to toxicity. If you have kidney or heart disease any concerns, please talk to a healthcare professional.
Classical signs of magnesium deficiency include;
Night cramps Heart palpitations,
Pins and needles, Insomnia,
Stress and anxiety Fatigue.
Magnesium and Menopause
Many women start taking magnesium when they get leg cramps at night or if they are feeling stressed. Let's look at a couple of other key reasons to consider it.
Magnesium has been associated with regulating neurotransmitters and mood-related hormones in the brain. It helps balance the stress response and has a calming and relaxing role on the nervous system. Both mental and physical stress deplete the body of magnesium, which can further disrupt the stress response process.
There is some evidence that suggests that magnesium supplementation may help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Magnesium helps balance the sleep-wake cycle and supports the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. If mixed with glycine, in the form of magnesium glycinate, you get a double effect since glycine also has a calming effect on the brain. It is often considered a nature's tranquilizer or called the relaxation mineral.
Magnesium is a crucial player in our body's energy metabolism. Crucially converting the food we eat into energy at the cellular level. Sufficient magnesium levels can contribute to improved energy levels and reduced fatigue.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Magnesium is involved in the metabolism of glucose and insulin function. Adequate magnesium levels have been associated with improved insulin sensitivity, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Muscle Function and Relaxation
Beyond just preventing those pesky night cramps, magnesium helps aid muscle relaxation, ensuring seamless contraction and relaxation of muscle fibers.
If migraines intensify during menopause, magnesium might be the relief that you seek. Some studies show that magnesium supplementation may help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.
Supports Bone Health
It's not just calcium that our bones need. Magnesium, in partnership with calcium, is essential for bone formation and maintenance. It aids in the absorption and metabolism of calcium, promoting the development and strengthening of bones. Adequate intake may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fracture.
Magnesium helps regulate heart rhythm, supports blood vessel function, and contributes to blood pressure regulation. Adequate levels may protect against cardiovascular disease.
How to increase magnesium – top tips
1. Choose magnesium-rich foods.
Good dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, bok choi), sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, spices, chocolate, legumes, and whole grains (brown rice and quinoa). Try to cook yourself as much as possible or have them in a natural form as possible. Steaming or baking is better than boiling.
2. Look after your gut.
The magnesium in foods nowadays is often significantly reduced – so we need to maximize its absorption.
3. Stop draining your body of magnesium.
Limit coffee, coke, fizzy drinks, sugar, and alcohol. These can all increase magnesium loss from the body.
4. Destress your life.
Take an Epsom salts bath. Magnesium can easily be absorbed through the skin, so a regular bath with a cup of Epsom salts can make a difference.
Meditate, go for a wander outside, read - 5 to 10 minutes here and there can make a massive difference.
I always encourage the 'food first' principle. And many people can achieve the minimum daily requirement this way. If you are pondering supplements, be wary of the form that it's in, as this impacts absorption and gut tolerability. The recommended daily amount for women is 270mg, although, given our current stress levels, you may need more. I always recommend adhering to the recommended doses. Please talk to your GP, a pharmacist, or a nutritional therapist if you are on any medications.
Navigating menopause can feel like a rollercoaster. While no single mineral offers a silver bullet solution, magnesium stands tall in its wide array of benefits for women in this phase. Whether through food or careful supplementation, ensuring adequate magnesium intake can be a supportive step in your menopausal journey.
Life is stressful enough as it is. Please don't fret over how to add more magnesium or if you should add magnesium to your diet. That is what nutritionists like me are here to do -help talk you through such things and find simple ways to add vital nutrients into your diet.
Please do contact me if you have any questions, either by making an appointment or simply drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.