Magnesium is a vital mineral and electrolyte with a multitude of crucial roles in the body. It plays a significant part in various functions, including thyroid regulation, oestrogen detoxification, blood sugar management, modulation of stress hormones, and more. Now, let’s examine some specific factors for which healthcare professionals and dietitians might suggest magnesium as a beneficial option for individuals dealing with PCOS.
Magnesium offers a range of advantages for individuals dealing with PCOS, including the reduction of insulin resistance and testosterone levels, alleviation of anxiety, enhancement of sleep quality and prevention of migraines. Nevertheless, those with PCOS often have a higher likelihood of inadequate dietary intake of magnesium and may benefit from magnesium supplementation.
Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent condition that impacts the functioning of a woman’s ovaries.
PCOS is characterized by three primary features:
- Irregular menstrual cycles result in infrequent ovulation (release of eggs from the ovaries).
- Elevated levels of androgens, often referred to as ‘male’ hormones, can lead to physical manifestations such as excessive facial or body hair.
- Enlarged ovaries with numerous fluid-filled sacs (follicles) surrounding the eggs. Despite the name, it’s important to note that the presence of actual cysts is not a requirement for a PCOS diagnosis.
If you exhibit at least two of these features, you may receive a diagnosis of PCOS.
An Overview of Magnesium
Magnesium ranks as the body’s fourth most abundant mineral. Among its crucial functions, magnesium serves as an electrolyte, overseeing heart contractions and maintaining water balance. Furthermore, magnesium acts as a cofactor in numerous essential processes, including the regulation of glucose and insulin, the transmission of nerve signals, temperature regulation, liver detoxification and participation in the development of bones and teeth.
Magnesium deficiency isn’t exclusive to individuals with PCOS. The World Health Organization suggests that most people irrespective of PCOS fall short of meeting the recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium. Several factors contribute to this deficiency, including depleted magnesium levels in soil, the prevalence of processed and refined foods that lack magnesium, insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables, stress, alcohol consumption, specific medications (such as birth control pills), excessive intake of other nutrients (like calcium, sodium, vitamin D and iron) and underlying medical conditions like insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, which can impede the body’s utilization of magnesium.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Maintaining Bone Health:
Although the primary focus of research has centered on calcium’s role in bone health, magnesium also plays a crucial role in supporting the formation of strong and healthy bones. A study from 2013 demonstrated a connection between adequate magnesium intake and various benefits, such as increased bone density, enhanced formation of bone crystals, and a reduced risk of osteoporosis among postmenopausal women. Magnesium contributes to bone health both directly and indirectly by regulating levels of calcium and vitamin D, two essential nutrients for maintaining strong bones.
Research has established a correlation between a diet rich in magnesium and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This is attributed to magnesium’s significant role in controlling glucose levels and insulin metabolism. A 2015 review in the World Journal of Diabetes highlighted the presence of low magnesium levels in most individuals with diabetes, suggesting that magnesium may play a pivotal role in managing the condition. In cases of magnesium deficiency, insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, can worsen, while insulin resistance itself may contribute to lower magnesium levels. Numerous studies have linked high magnesium intake to a lower incidence of diabetes, and a systematic review from 2017 indicates that magnesium supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with magnesium deficiency. Nevertheless, more conclusive evidence is required before magnesium can be routinely recommended for glycaemic control in diabetes management.
Promoting Cardiovascular Health:
Magnesium is essential for maintaining muscle health, including the heart muscle, and research underscores its importance in cardiovascular well-being. A 2018 review pointed out that magnesium deficiency can elevate an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular issues, partially due to its roles at the cellular level. The review also noted that magnesium deficiency is common in people with congestive heart failure and can exacerbate their clinical outcomes. Furthermore, magnesium supplementation administered shortly after a heart attack has been associated with reduced mortality risk. In cases of congestive heart failure, magnesium is sometimes utilized by medical professionals to lower the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmia.
According to a 2019 meta-analysis, increasing magnesium intake may lower the risk of stroke, with a 2% risk reduction for each 100 mg per day increase in magnesium. While some research suggests that magnesium may play a role in managing hypertension, current evidence, as per the Office of Dietary Supplements, indicates that magnesium supplements have only a modest impact on lowering blood pressure. Therefore, additional comprehensive research is required to comprehensively understand magnesium’s role in heart health and cardiovascular disease prevention.
Alleviating Migraine Headaches:
Magnesium therapy can be a valuable option for preventing or relieving migraine headaches. This is due to magnesium’s ability to impact neurotransmitters and regulate blood vessel constriction, both factors associated with migraines. Individuals experiencing migraines often have lower levels of magnesium in their blood and body tissues, especially during a migraine episode. A systematic review from 2017 suggests that magnesium therapy, specifically taking 600 mg of magnesium citrate, can serve as a safe and effective strategy for migraine prevention. The American Migraine Foundation recommends doses ranging from 400 to 500 mg per day for migraine prevention. However, individuals should seek guidance from their healthcare provider as high doses may be necessary for effectiveness.
Addressing Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):
Magnesium may also have a role in mitigating the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Small-scale studies, including a 2012 article, indicate that taking magnesium supplements in conjunction with vitamin B-6 can improve PMS symptoms. However, a more recent review from 2019 presents mixed findings and underscores the need for further research. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests that magnesium supplementation may help reduce bloating, mood-related symptoms, and breast tenderness associated with PMS.
Magnesium levels are thought to influence mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. A 2017 systematic review suggests a potential link between low magnesium levels and higher anxiety levels. This is partly due to interactions within the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a set of glands controlling a person’s response to stress. However, it’s important to note that the quality of the evidence in this area is currently considered poor, necessitating further high-quality studies to determine the efficacy of magnesium supplements in reducing anxiety.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
When consumed orally magnesium is generally considered safe for the majority of individuals when used as directed. Daily doses below 350 mg are well-tolerated by most adults. However, in certain individuals, magnesium may lead to gastrointestinal discomforts, such as stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other possible side effects. When excessively high doses (exceeding 350 mg per day) are ingested, magnesium becomes potentially unsafe. Excessive amounts of magnesium in the body can result in severe side effects. Side effects include irregular heart rhythms, low blood pressure, confusion, slowed respiration, unconsciousness, and even fatal outcomes.
When administered via injection or intravenously (IV) the use of prescription-only injectable magnesium, when administered correctly by a health care provider, is generally considered safe for most individuals.
Debunking Myths About Magnesium
Magnesium Should Only Be Taken Before Bed
There is a common misconception that Magnesium is primarily a sleep aid, but its actual role is to facilitate relaxation and help the body unwind by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. In contrast, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response in reaction to stress. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for returning the body to a state of tranquillity. It also regulates essential bodily functions, such as digestion, when we are in a relaxed or sleep mode.
Magnesium Is Solely Beneficial for Relaxation and Muscle Well-being
As previously mentioned, Magnesium plays a crucial role in a wide array of bodily functions. Some additional advantages that might not be commonly known include:
— Reducing the formation of harmful free radicals within the body
— Promoting and preserving eye health
— Sustaining the health of our teeth
— Supporting the well-being of the heart and cardiovascular system
— Ensuring the proper maintenance of healthy thyroid hormones
— Fostering the strength and health of bones
— Assisting the natural process of liver cleansing and detoxification
— Bolstering the immune system’s ability to combat illness
— Contributing to the formation of collagen in the body
There’s Only a Single Variety of Magnesium
Contrary to popular belief, there are approximately 11 distinct types of magnesium, each with slight variations in the benefits they offer. Here are a few examples:
- Magnesium Glycinate: This is a versatile form of magnesium with high absorption and bioavailability. It contains the amino acid glycine, which promotes relaxation, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also contributes to the supply of collagen to muscles, tissues, and bones.
- Magnesium Ascorbate: Combining magnesium with vitamin C, this form is gentler on the digestive system compared to others. It leads to improved absorption of both magnesium and vitamin C, thus delivering dual benefits.
- Magnesium Phosphate: Ideal for energy production, it can be beneficial in combating fatigue. It also supports calcium absorption, protein and bone formation, and aids in muscle relaxation, alleviating cramps.
- Magnesium Chelate: Known for its excellent absorption rate, this form is particularly effective in addressing magnesium deficiency, ensuring adequate magnesium levels within the body.
Tips for Incorporating Magnesium Into a PCOS-Friendly Diet
For most women, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium stands at approximately 320 milligrams (mg) per day. Individuals dealing with PCOS are at a higher risk of magnesium deficiency due to inadequate consumption of magnesium-rich foods. They potentially exacerbate issues like insulin resistance and inflammation, which are commonly associated with PCOS.
Healthcare practitioners and dietitians consistently advocate for a “food-first” approach. To optimize your magnesium intake and enjoy the various benefits of this essential mineral, it’s crucial to prioritize the inclusion of magnesium-rich foods in your daily diet. Here is a list of foods abundant in magnesium, along with suggestions on how to incorporate them into your meals and snacks:
- Pumpkin Seeds: Sprinkle them over a vibrant salad, and blend them into your trail mix. You can also incorporate them into homemade pesto sauce.
- Chia Seeds: Enhance your overnight oats or create chia seed pudding with them.
- Almonds: Spread almond butter on slices of apples, and add chopped almonds to your chicken salad. Or savor almond flour crackers with hummus or guacamole.
- Black Beans: Whip up a flavourful black bean dip to accompany crunchy raw vegetables. Or include them in a southwest-style egg bake.
- Leafy Greens: Boost the nutritional content of your morning smoothie by tossing in a handful of leafy greens. You can also mix them into soups or stews, or prepare crispy kale chips for a wholesome snack.
What You Need To Know About Magnesium Supplements & Vitamins
The advantages of incorporating magnesium supplements into the diets of generally healthy individuals remain uncertain. However, the regular consumption of a magnesium supplement is unlikely to pose significant risks for most individuals.
It is crucial, however, to exercise caution and avoid excessive magnesium intake. For the majority of adults, the recommended maximum dietary allowance is approximately 400 mg or less.
Many experts strongly advise against initiating magnesium supplementation without prior consultation with your primary care physician. Your doctor needs to evaluate your medical history as well as the medications you are currently taking.
Doctors and nutritionists also emphasize that specific medical conditions, such as kidney issues, can elevate the risk of magnesium accumulation and potential toxicity. Additionally, magnesium can affect the absorption of certain medications and may interact with others. This makes it essential for a healthcare professional to be informed and involved in the decision-making process.
Work With a PCOS Expert for a Customized Nutrition Plan
Consultations with a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) typically span from 45 to 90 minutes. The initial session commonly involves a comprehensive nutrition assessment. During this the dietitian gathers information about your present and past medical history. They do this while evaluating your dietary and physical activity patterns. Additionally, they will offer nutritional guidance pertaining to PCOS, and explore potential dietary supplements that could benefit your condition. They also craft a personalized meal plan tailored to your individual requirements.
The frequency of subsequent appointments will be determined based on your objectives and healthcare necessities. Follow-up sessions may encompass further nutritional education, meal planning adjustments, and monitoring of supplement utilization. These sessions also address any concerns related to eating habits.
Learn More With Veera
Research indicates that women dealing with PCOS frequently face the potential of being deficient in essential nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Additionally, when it comes to vitamins, B12 and B9 are often found to be inadequately present. Moreover, a deficiency in vitamin D is associated not only with PCOS but also with conditions such as depression and insulin resistance. Nutritionists at Veera Health take your nutrient deficiencies seriously and plan your meals accordingly.