For many women, the only thing more frustrating than the hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and other symptoms commonly associated with menopause, is figuring out how to deal with them. Menopausal women are looking for ways to manage their symptoms more naturally, and without potentially harmful side effects. The good news is that nutritional supplements may be able to help, especially since so many women don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet alone.
Can Magnesium Help with Menopausal Symptoms?
Enter magnesium. This multi-tasking mineral is critical to many of the body’s essential functions and may help to reduce, and even eliminate, several of the more common symptoms that can occur during menopause. Why? Magnesium levels often decline with age as the body’s ability to absorb and store the mineral decreases. A deficiency in magnesium can negatively impact the body’s mitochondria, which, if you remember from science class, are the powerhouses of the cell. If our mitochondria are no longer working efficiently, we’re not getting the energy needed to fuel our key internal functions. All of this can lead to negative health consequences, which can manifest as more severe menopausal symptoms. The decline in estrogen that women experience during menopause, coupled with a reduced ability to absorb magnesium, can negatively impact everything from bone health to mobility.
Luckily, there are things menopausal women can do to increase magnesium levels in their body and help manage their symptoms. Here are some of the more common menopause symptoms that magnesium can help with:
Magnesium for Joint Pain & Mobility
As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to joint pain. This often occurs when the cartilage on our bones degrades, reducing the cushion between our joints and resulting in stiffness, pain and loss of mobility. Magnesium helps protect this cartilage.1
Magnesium also plays an important role in increasing overall bone strength. Since, cartilage aside, a whopping 60% of our body’s magnesium is stored in our bones, it’s especially important that we get enough magnesium during the menopausal stage of life. 2
Magnesium for Menopausal Headaches
Headaches and migraines can be a common symptom experienced during menopause, thanks to volatile hormone fluctuations. However, research has also shown that individuals who experience migraines often have lower magnesium levels. Magnesium oxide (a combination of magnesium and oxygen) is typically the more effective form of this mineral for addressing headaches. 3
Magnesium and Mood Swings
Mood swings and irritability are a big problem for many peri-menopausal and menopausal women. Anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness can also occur or intensify as the body reacts to declining hormone levels. Magnesium can help keep cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” regulated, thereby calming the nervous system. 4
Magnesium and Insomnia
Night sweats and restlessness can make getting a good night’s sleep something menopausal women only dream about. Again, the potential positive effects of magnesium on the central nervous system, may help. By regulating the body’s levels of GABA, a sleep promoting neurotransmitter found in the brain, magnesium may potentially improve the quality of sleep.5
Magnesium and Cognitive Function
In general, magnesium can also help to support brain health, which is an important benefit as many menopausal women may experience something called “brain fog” during this life stage. Research suggests that decreases in attention span, processing speed, and other cognitive abilities during the menopause transition are influenced as estrogen levels decline – this is what can lead to this “foggy” feeling. Research suggests that increasing your magnesium intake may help to improve cognitive function and brain health.6
How Much Magnesium Should a Menopausal Woman Take?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 310mg – 360mg of magnesium daily. While it’s possible to get enough magnesium by consuming foods high in the mineral (like nuts, legumes and kale), many women may benefit from adding in a quality supplement.
What Type of Magnesium is Best For Menopause?
Magnesium supplements come in a variety of forms. Some of the most common and easy to absorb types include:
- magnesium aspartate
- magnesium citrate
- magnesium oxide
- magnesium chloride
- magnesium glycinate
In general, magnesium isn’t easily absorbed by the body, which is why you’ll often see it combined with another nutrient. Finding the type of magnesium supplement that’s right for you depends on a number of factors, including your symptoms and the amount of the nutrient your body requires. It’s a good idea to check in with your physician as well, so they can advise on the best type of supplement for your individual needs.
Are There Any Risks or Interactions?
If you’re getting magnesium solely through your diet, then there’s no real risk of over-consumption. Any excess magnesium that’s not absorbed by the body will likely come out in your urine with little or no side effects. If you’re getting higher than recommended doses of magnesium via supplements, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and nausea can occur.