If you ask me what my favourite nutrient is (I’m a Nutritional Therapist ok – don’t judge), I would have to say magnesium. It is a mineral that is essential to so many bodily functions and therefore getting adequate levels through diet and/or supplementation can be a total game changer for people. It’s basically just a great all-rounder, a real team player, a go-to ‘I’ve got you covered’ powerhouse of a nutrient.
What Does Magnesium Do in the Body?
What gives magnesium that covorted ‘favourite nutrient’ status? Well to name just a few of it’s key functions:
- Bone health: Magnesium helps to regulate calcium and vitamin D levels in the body. Therefore, without enough magnesium, you may not be able to properly absorb calcium, which can lead to weakened bones and an increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Regulating of heart health: Magnesium is necessary for proper heart function, as it helps to regulate heartbeat and maintain healthy blood pressure. Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Regulating blood sugar: It is involved in the body’s production and use of insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Muscle and nerve function: Magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves. It helps relax muscles after they contract (making it great for muscle cramps and restless legs), and it is also involved in the transmission of nerve impulses throughout the body.
- Energy production: Magnesium is involved in the body’s production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells. Without enough magnesium, the body may not be able to produce ATP efficiently, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and low energy.
- Management of stress and anxiety: Magnesium has a calming effect on the body and is often used as a natural remedy for stress and anxiety. It helps to regulate the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, and it also helps to relax muscles and promote mental relaxation.
Magnesium for Menopause Symptoms
If you just read the list above then it is probably unsurprising that magnesium is a MUST for preventing some of the major potential health concerns associated with post-menopause such as heart disease, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. However it is also a useful little nutrient for helping manage menopausal symptoms. And as we know, menopause can be…ahem… a ‘challenging’ time for many of us, with symptoms ranging from hot flushes and night sweats to mood swings and anxiety – so any help we can get is gratefully received.
But how exactly does magnesium help with menopause symptoms? One theory is that it may help regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is involved in the body’s stress response. By regulating this system, magnesium may help reduce the severity of the following symptoms.
- Hot flushes: Magnesium can help regulate body temperature and reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
- Mood swings: Magnesium can help regulate mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Insomnia: Magnesium can promote relaxation studies have found that supplementation can improve sleep quality and help women fall asleep faster. Trust me – I have first-hand experience of this….there is a reason it is called ‘nature’s tranquiliser’.
- Joint pain, muscle cramps and restless legs: Magnesium can help alleviate joint pain and muscle cramps, particularly when used topically.
Foods High in Magnesium
I always take food first approach to nutrition and believe you can’t supplement your way out of a poor diet. So how can you pack more magnesium into your day? Good dietary sources of magnesium include dark chocolate (result!), avocado, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fatty fish, and leafy greens.
However, it is estimated that over half the US population do not reach the recommended daily intake of magnesium. So you can bet your bottom dollar those stats are mirrored in other developed countries. And, in my humble opinion, the recommended daily intakes are far too low in most cases anyway as they are set just above where you might see deficiency symptoms (don’t get me started on this as a huge public health issue!). So – it’s fair to say a lot of midlife women are probably deficient in this vital nutrient and may not get enough through diet alone.
In this case, a magnesium supplement may be helpful. But before you run to your local health shop and grab a bottle of whatever they have, you need to know that there are a number of different types of magnesium. They all offer health benefits, but to varying degrees and with some offering superior support to some systems of the body over others.
Different Types of Magnesium for Menopause Symptoms
I hope this handy table helps you establish which type of magnesium might be of most benefit to you, but I really would encourage you to seek advice from a qualified and registered nutrition professional before taking any supplements. And never take above the recommended dose. For starters, magnesium can be a strong laxative…..I’ll say no more!
If you’re interested in understanding more about nutritional support for the menopause then you might also like to head to my blogs ‘Ten Important Nutrients for Menopause’ and ‘How Important is Protein for Midlife Women?’
In conclusion, if you’re struggling with menopause symptoms, or would like to keep them at bay, and are looking for a holistic and natural support strategy – you can do a lot worse than adding high-magnesium foods to your diet, and considering supplementation. Not only may it help alleviate specific symptoms, but it may also improve your overall health and prevent future chronic disease. Give it a try and see if it works for you!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried magnesium supplementation and if it helped you.
If you like what you’ve read and would like more practical information and tips on nutrition, lifestyle and mindset for midlife women then I’d love it if you followed me at motherflushingmidlife at the social links below.
Please note: If you are considering supplementation it is essential to consume high-quality products to ensure they contain well-absorbed and utilised active ingredients alongside minimal additives. This should be discussed with an appropriately qualified nutrition professional, who will be able to guide you towards the most appropriate for you without breaking the bank!
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own. I am not a primary healthcare professional or GP and this blog is not intended to be a substitute or replacement for professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health you should consult your doctor.