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Can magnesium impact hormone health and PMS

Laura Harcourt

Written byLaura Harcourt

Happy woman laughing and enjoying under sudden rain in a sunny day
Magnesium plays a crucial role in regulating our hormones and reducing various symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Learn more in our article.
If you often experience mood swings, cramps, and irritability before your period, did you know emerging research suggests that magnesium may help ease your symptoms?

While more commonly associated with its ability to maintain healthy muscles, nerves, bones, and blood sugar levels, magnesium actually plays a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions within our bodies.1

In this article, we take a closer look at this mineral, highlighting not only what it is but also the potential impact it might have on common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – from soothing menstrual cramps to easing feelings of irritability according to some research.

What is magnesium?

As one of the most abundant minerals in the body, magnesium is essential for hundreds of processes in our bodies. For example, it can help:
  • support your nervous system 
  • break food down into nutrients 
  • increase muscle function 
  • maintain electrolyte balance 
  • develop healthy bones and teeth 
  • promote normal cell division2
To reap the benefits of magnesium, the NHS recommends that men aged between 19 and 64 years old should aim to consume 300mg of magnesium per day, whereas women of the same age should aim for 270mg per day. (It’s equally important not to consume more magnesium than you need as this could lead to unpleasant symptoms like diarrhoea).

Find out more about this vital mineral in our magnesium guide.

Where is magnesium found?

Magnesium can be found in green leafy veg, wholemeal bread, nuts, and seeds.
Some of the best sources of magnesium to add to your diet include: 
  • pumpkin seeds 
  • chia seeds 
  • peanuts 
  • spinach 
  • almonds 
  • cashews 
  • black beans 
  • brown rice 
  • bananas 
  • quinoa
You should be able to get all the magnesium you need through a varied balanced diet. However, if you struggle to have a varied diet you may want to consider boosting your magnesium intake, by using other sources of magnesium, such as magnesium supplements, gels, salts, and sprays.

What are the benefits of magnesium supplements?

Whether maintaining normal bones and teeth, reducing tiredness or supporting normal psychological function, magnesium is involved in a huge variety of essential bodily functions.1

It also plays a critical role in balancing hormones by activating enzymes involved in hormone production and metabolism.3 This function is crucial in the days and weeks leading up to your period – a time when your hormone levels will start to naturally fluctuate

If you’re unable to get magnesium through your diet, magnesium supplements can be beneficial to help with some of these benefits.

What are the benefits of magnesium for PMS?

PMS is associated with a wide variety of physical and emotional symptoms. The cause of PMS is unknown, but some researchers believe it could be brought on as a result of fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Fortunately, however, emerging studies on a small scale have shown that many of these symptoms may be eased using magnesium supplements. Further research using well-designed clinical studies determining the effects of magnesium on PMS symptoms are needed. But, what we do know is magnesium helps with tiredness and fatigue, which you might experience during your period.4

Back in 2017, a review was published that concluded that magnesium supplementation might help improve symptoms of clinical conditions relating to women’s health, including PMS, dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and postmenopausal symptoms.5

Some other possible benefits of using magnesium for PMS include:6 
  • reduced levels of cramping 
  • improved mood swings 
  • better quality sleep 
  • reduced stress and tension 
  • less menstrual headaches 
  • reduced bloating
However, due to limiting factors in the research, more robust studies will help us understand the possible link between magnesium and these symptoms.

Magnesium and vitamin B6

Several other vitamins and minerals may also help reduce PMS symptoms as well.

Vitamin B6, for example, plays a vital role in contributing to normal psychological function. For this reason, taking a daily dose of vitamin B6 might help with the psychological effects of PMS, including mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability.7

However, when combined with magnesium, the results may be even better.

According to a 2010 questionnaire-based study involving 170 women, using a combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium was found to significantly improve PMS symptoms when compared to a group who took magnesium only and those who took a placebo.8 Amongst many others, some people reportedly had improved PMS symptoms from taking this combined approach including less anxiety, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, low back pain, and acne. Limitations to this study was that it involved self-reporting, which may result in some inaccurate reporting.

Magnesium and period cramps

Due to its role in normal muscle function, low magnesium levels are often associated with muscle cramps, fatigue, and joint pain.

When your womb lining starts to shed, the release of hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins triggers your uterine muscles to contract. The more prostaglandins released, the greater the intensity of the contractions, and the more painful the PMS cramp feels.

One study found that magnesium may help prevent the production of these prostaglandins, which in turn may reduce the severity of your menstrual cramps.9

In a trial of students with mild-to-moderate period pain, for example, participants who took 300mg of magnesium were shown to have reduced symptoms of period pain, including menstrual cramping.6

Can magnesium improve sleep quality during PMS?

Sleeping difficulties are another classic symptom of PMS and can often be brought on for one of several reasons.

Not only do physical symptoms like cramps and bloating lead to restless nights, but emotional symptoms like anxiety and low mood can also contribute to poor sleeping patterns.

Many people credit magnesium with helping them fall asleep more easily, getting a better quality of sleep, and improving symptoms of restless leg syndrome. This may be because of the mineral’s ability to relax your muscles and the nervous system.

Some scientists also believe magnesium might improve sleep quality by helping regulate the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep. However, more research is needed to explore this link.

Can using magnesium help with PMS depression?

During the days or weeks leading up to your period, fluctuating hormones can cause serotonin levels to drop.10,11 This decrease may contribute to PMS-related symptoms such as sadness, irritability, anxiety, and trouble sleeping.12

Initial studies suggest a possible connection between magnesium levels and mental health, with many people suffering from depression not having enough of this vital mineral.13

Researchers have proposed that magnesium supplementation could potentially help regulate serotonin levels and manage depression symptoms, which could include those related to PMS.14

While many people believe that taking magnesium helps them manage their symptoms of PMS depression, research in this field is still limited, with no studies directly examining magnesium supplementation specifically for PMS-related depression.

These early results suggest magnesium may help with overall PMS symptoms, including mood changes, but more research is needed to confirm its efficacy for PMS-related depressive symptoms.

If you’re concerned about the severity of your PMS symptoms or mental health, you should seek further support and guidance from your GP.

The final say

Whilst magnesium is an important nutrient and you need it for many important bodily functions from normal muscle function to reduction in tiredness and fatigue (which may also relate to PMS symptoms), the evidence for magnesium and hormonal health is still unclear and circumstantial. More robust clinical studies in humans are needed to determine if magnesium can actually help with sleep, period cramps, or depression in PMS.

Nonetheless, it’s a vital nutrient so make sure you get enough through your diet, or consider taking a supplement if you struggle to maintain a varied balanced diet.

However, before adding more magnesium supplements to your diet, it’s important to speak to your doctor first. They’ll be best placed to provide you with personalised advice on any other supplements you should use to help ease your PMS symptoms in a way that works for you.

Disclaimer

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
 

Sources

1. Volpe, SL. ‘Magnesium in Disease Prevention and Overall Health’. Advances in Nutrition. 2013 May 1;4(3):378S383S. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2161831322011280.
2. Al Alawi, AM, Majoni SW, Falhammar H. ‘Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions’. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2018;2018(1):1–17. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5926493/.
3. Abdullah Al Ali. ‘Overview of the vital roles of macro minerals in the human body’. Journal of Trace Elements and Minerals. 2023 Jun 1;4:100076–6. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2773050623000290#sec0015.
4. Moslehi M, Arab A, Shadnoush M, Hajianfar H. ‘The Association Between Serum Magnesium and Premenstrual Syndrome: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies’. Biological Trace Element Research. 2019 Mar 18. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30880352/.
5. Parazzini, F., et al. ‘Magnesium in the gynaecological practice: a literature review.’ Magnesium Research. 2017;1;30(1):1–7. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28392498.
6. Yaralizadeh, M., et al. ‘Effectiveness of Magnesium on Menstrual Symptoms Among Dysmenhorreal College Students: A Randomized Control Trial’. International Journal of Women’s Health and Reproduction Sciences. Available from: https://ijwhr.net/text.php?id=624.
7. Wyatt, KM, et al. ‘Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review’. BMJ : British Medical Journal. 1999 May 22;318(7195):1375–81. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC27878/.
8. Fathizadeh, N., et al. ‘Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome’. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research. 2010;15(Suppl 1):401–5. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3208934/.
9. Gök, S., et al. ‘Investigation of Laboratory and Clinical Features of Primary Dysmenorrhea: Comparison of Magnesium and Oral Contraceptives in Treatment’. Cureus, 2022;14(11):e32028. Available from: https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.32028.
10. Gudipally PR, Sharma GK. Premenstrual Syndrome [Internet]. Nih.gov. StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2024 May 2]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560698/
11. Sacher J, Zsido RG, Barth C, Zientek F, Rullmann M, Luthardt J, et al. Increase in Serotonin Transporter Binding in Patients With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Across the Menstrual Cycle: A Case-Control Longitudinal Neuroreceptor Ligand Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Study. Biological psychiatry [Internet]. 2023 Jun 1 [cited 2024 May 2];93(12):1081–8. Available from: https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(23)00005-7/abstract
12. Tiranini L, Nappi RE. Recent advances in understanding/management of premenstrual dysphoric disorder/premenstrual syndrome. Faculty reviews [Internet]. 2022 Apr 28 [cited 2024 May 2];11. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9066446/
13. Tarleton, E., et al. ‘Magnesium Intake and Depression in Adults’. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2015;28(2):249-256. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176.
14. Mahdi Moabedi, Mohammadreza Aliakbari, Shima Erfanian, Alireza Milajerdi. Magnesium supplementation beneficially affects depression in adults with depressive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Frontiers in psychiatry [Internet]. 2023 Dec 22 [cited 2024 May 2];14. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychiatry/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1333261/full
15. Tarleton, E., et al. ‘Magnesium intake and depression in adults’. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine: JABFM. 2015;28(2):249–56. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748766.
16. Serefko, A., et al. ‘Magnesium and depression’. Magnesium Research. 2016;29(3):112-119. Available from: https://www.jle.com/en/revues/mrh/e-docs/magnesium_and_depression_308520/article.phtml.
 

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