As my patients can tell you, I prescribe magnesium for almost every hormonal condition, including PCOS, insulin resistance, PMDD, migraines, and perimenopause.
Magnesium deficiency is common because modern soils are depleted, and your body dumps magnesium during stress. So, if you’re under stress, you probably need magnesium.
Magnesium for hormone balance
- Magnesium calms the nervous system and regulates the HPA axis. Your stress control system (HPA) axis is your central hormonal system, so when it functions well, it supports your other hormones.
- Magnesium reduces blood sugar and normalizes insulin. It’s so effective at improving insulin sensitivity that I refer to magnesium as “natural metformin.” Healthy insulin sensitivity means fewer sugar cravings and a good chance of reversing PCOS.
- Magnesium supports thyroid health. It’s essential for the production of thyroid hormone. It is also anti-inflammatory, which helps to quiet the autoimmune inflammation that underlies most thyroid disease. Other ways to address thyroid autoimmunity include avoiding gluten and supplementing selenium.
- Magnesium aids sleep, especially when combined with the amino acids glycine and taurine (see below).
- Magnesium fuels healthy mitochondria, which are important for hormonal health because steroid hormones are made in the mitochondria.
- Magnesium normalizes the action of progesterone on the central nervous system, which is how it relieves symptoms of PMDD, migraines, and perimenopause.
- Magnesium activates vitamin D. Without sufficient magnesium, vitamin D cannot do its job. Conversely, too much vitamin D can cause magnesium deficiency.
- Magnesium slows aging by preventing telomere shortening, reducing oxidative stress, and enhancing the production of glutathione.
For more information about how magnesium and women’s health, read:
- Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review
- Magnesium and the menstrual cycle
- Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis
Can you test for deficiency?
There is no accurate way to test for magnesium deficiency. A serum test is not helpful because most magnesium is inside the cells. A test for red cell magnesium is a bit better but still not very accurate.
The best way to assess magnesium deficiency is to try a magnesium supplement and see how you feel.
The best type of magnesium supplement
Magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate (the mineral joined to the amino acid glycine) is the easiest type of magnesium to absorb and the least likely to cause diarrhea. Magnesium glycinate provides the additional benefits of glycine, which is the precursor to glutathione and supports healthy insulin sensitivity and methylation. Glycine also calms the nervous system and promotes sleep by modulating NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and lowering core body temperature.
Magnesium combines well with the amino acid taurine—an important nutrient for mood, mitochondria, and insulin sensitivity.
The best dose of magnesium
A therapeutic dose of magnesium is at least 300 mg which usually equates to three capsules. If your label says “500 mg magnesium glycinate” per capsule, check if it is referring to “total” magnesium glycinate (magnesium plus glycine). And read carefully to see how much “equivalent magnesium” or “elemental magnesium ” is provided by each capsule.
Food sources of magnesium include leafy greens, almonds, dark chocolate, and mineral water.