Why is magnesium important?
Magnesium is an essential mineral found in all of our tissues, but mainly in our bones, muscles, and brain. It is a critical factor in over 300 body processes including muscle building, maintaining nerve function, keeping a healthy heartbeat, sustaining optimal immune system function and facilitating sleep. Magnesium is a natural anti-inflammatory, making it particularly critical for women with PCOS.
- Magnesium help manage insulin secretion. We must have magnesium for our cells to make energy. Magnesium enhances insulin secretion which facilitates sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, glucose is not able to transfer into cells. In a recent study, people with diabetes who took magnesium supplements had improved insulin and glucose levels.
- Magnesium is necessary for maintaining a healthy heart. This important mineral aids in the proper transport of potassium, calcium, and other nutrient ions across cell membranes. These nutrients help promote healthy nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and a normal heart rhythm.
- Magnesium helps keep anxiety and depression at bay and relaxes our muscles.
- Adequate levels of magnesium help promote sleep.
How do we become magnesium deficient?
- When we are stressed, our bodies become depleted of magnesium. Magnesium regulates cortisol (stress hormone) as it calms our nervous system and prevents excessive cortisol. We burn through magnesium because it helps support our adrenal glands, which get exhausted when making cortisol. When we are under loads of stress, it means we are also losing magnesium.
- The amount of magnesium most of us are getting has plummeted by over 50% during the last century. It is estimated that 80% of us are deficient in magnesium. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of Magnesium Miracle explains, “Magnesium is farmed out of the soil…A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams. People do need to supplement with magnesium.” Even organic soils are depleted of minerals, and non-organic farming is severely depleted in minerals.
- Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely than the average person to have low magnesium.(2) Many women with PCOS are on the birth control pill, which depletes magnesium. Adding to the problem, many women with PCOS have sugar and simple carb cravings. To process excessive sugar in our diets requires a great deal of magnesium, and a refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium) adds insult to injury. High glucose levels make the body flush magnesium from its system. If it isn’t added back in by eating magnesium rich foods and taking supplements, you will become deficient.
Magnesium deficiency has even has been linked to inflammation in the body and higher C Reactive Protein levels.
How do I know if I am deficient?
Most of the magnesium in your body is inside your cells, so you can’t measure with a blood test. Only 1% of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, so a serum magnesium blood test highly inaccurate. You have to look at symptoms. Magnesium is often referred to as the “relaxation mineral.” So if anything is tight, irritable, crampy or stiff, whether it is your body or even your emotions/moods, it is a sign of magnesium deficiency.
Here is a list of some magnesium deficiency symptoms. For a more complete list see – http://drcarolyndean.com/2010/06/gauging-magnesium-deficiency-symptoms/
- Insulin Resistance
- Sugar, alcohol, carbohydrate cravings
- Polycystic ovaries
- High blood pressure
- Menstrual cramps
What type of magnesium should I use?
Before you buy a supplement, remember that not all forms of magnesium are the same. When you want to increase magnesium levels, it is important to choose the right form. Magnesium bisglycinate (available in the PCOS Diva Store) is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency. The typical dosage is is 500-1000 mg magnesium daily. Spread out the dosage and take it with meals to slow down transit time through the intestines and enhance absorption.
Besides taking a supplement, another way to improve your magnesium levels is to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin. Magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) can also be used for topical application and absorption.
Here is my favorite Epsom Salt Bath recipe –http://pcosdiva.com/2013/02/ask-amy-essential-oils-and-pcos/
What foods contain magnesium?
Food is medicine, and you can get more magnesium by eating more magnesium rich foods. Add some of the following to your diet – kelp, dulse and seaweeds, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, millet, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, chocolate, raw cacao brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, spinach, halibut, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, dandelion greens, mineral water, and garlic.
Homemade bone broth is another excellent source: http://pcosdiva.com/2014/04/no-bones-about-it-bone-broth-is-good-food/
If you have heart disease or kidney problems, consult with your physician before taking magnesium supplements, as they can adversely affect these conditions.
(1) Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Apr;152(1):9-15. doi: 10.1007/s12011-012-9592-5. Epub 2013 Jan 16. Altered trace mineral milieu might play an aetiological role in the pathogenisis of polycystic ovary syndrome.
(2) Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012 Jan;28(1):7-11. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2011.579663. Epub 2011 Jun 23. Serum magnesium concentrations in polycystic ovary syndrome and its association with insulin resistance
(3) Gynecol Endocrinol. 2001 Jun;15(3):198-201. Divalent cations in women with PCOS: implications for cardiovascular disease.