I remember way back in the 90s when I was studying to become a nutritionist, reading a book entitled “The magic of magnesium”. Now magnesium is all over social media. But back then this mineral wasn’t recognised as much as it is now for its importance in the menopause and women’s health generally. So this little book was a bit before it's time.
What happens if you don't get enough Magnesium?
Magnesium is particularly important for women. If you don't have enough, you could get any of the symptoms below. Lack of magnesium affects your hormone and nervous systems as well as your immune system. Magnesium helps you produce energy, forms bone structure and affects how your body processes sugar.
A large French study in 2018 found that 80% of women have less than optimal levels of this mineral.
In another study, 84% of women with osteoporosis, who had gone through the menopause were found to be magnesium deficient. And if you have a teenage daughter be aware that more than half of teenage girls have magnesium intakes below the recommended daily amount.
Types of Magnesium Deficiency
There are two types of nutrient deficiency. Frank deficiency occurs, for example, when you get scurvy due to lack of vitamin C. Subclinical deficiency on the other hand, which is more common, affects how your body works. With magnesium, we are mostly talking about subclinical deficiency.
A typical Western diet is unlikely to supply enough magnesium for optimal health during peri menopause and menopause, particularly when it comes to your bones and cardiovascular system.
Reasons for Low Magnesium
- Decreasing levels in foods
- Blood loss during menstruation
- Chronic disease
How do you know if you need more magnesium?
A standard blood test for magnesium is not very useful since 99 percent of the body’s magnesium is stored in bones, muscles and soft tissue.
It's definitely worth thinking about magnesium if you have any of the following issues:
- Menstrual migraines
- PMS (multiple studies show magnesium supplementation was linked with a reduction of PMS symptoms)
- Poor sleep
- Muscle cramps
- Painful periods
- Anxiety and depression
- Low thyroid function
- Endometriosis. Sufferers have been found to have lower magnesium intake than average.
- PCOS. Lower magnesium is associated with cysts, insulin resistance, higher male hormones & inflammation
What foods are rich in magnesium?
Where can you get your recommended 300-400mg magnesium daily?
The best food sources are beans, seeds (ground up to help absorption of magnesium), dark chocolate, mackerel, spinach, almonds and cashews. Avocados also contain some.
Meat does contains some but not super high amounts.
All in all, getting enough magnesium through food can be quite a challenge. If you have any of the above health issues, a supplement might be beneficial (see below).
Magnesium Rich Recipes
Check out this dairy free cacao cashew smoothie recipe and these recipes which are high in magnesium and calcium. Choose from Broccoli Almond Protein Salad, Toasted Trail Mix, Gingerbread Smoothie and Chickpea Flatbread Pizza. The recipes are all gluten free as well.
The type of magnesium supplement you choose is important. Magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate are good forms. Order here to get 15% off magnesium glycinate using code pc15. Avoid magnesium carbonate or magnesium oxide as these forms are not so well absorbed. Do not take magnesium without advice from a trained practitioner if you are on medication or have a diagnosed illness. It's unclear whether magnesium has the same benefits if you are getting enough of it already.