By Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has a wide range of symptoms from irregular periods and acne to hirsutism and weight gain. Less widely known is that if you have PCOS, you are more likely to struggle with anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. There are many reasons for this, but one of them may be that you are magnesium deficient.
It may sound simple, but it is true, studies have linked magnesium deficiency not just with sleep problems, but also stress and anxiety.
What Magnesium Does for the Body
Magnesium is not just an ordinary mineral. Many key processes in the body depend on magnesium to work optimally.
Magnesium helps keep our heart pumping blood, enhances insulin secretion (which facilitates sugar metabolism), strengthens our immune system, and keeps a health balance of neurotransmitters in our brain. This means that magnesium levels can affect our mood and state of mind. Magnesium does so many things, scientists believe it’s involved in over 600 biochemical reactions.
More than keeping our body and mind healthy and functioning well, magnesium is also known to exhibit benefits for physical performance, especially when it comes to exercise. It can help with electrolyte imbalance and reduce the risk of cramps during intense training.
Possibly most importantly for those with PCOS, magnesium intake is also related to how well our body fights inflammation – a condition that is thought to be the root cause of almost every disease in humans including PCOS.
How Being Magnesium Deficient Affects Sleep and State of Mind
Suffice to say, magnesium is critical for optimal health. We won’t notice anything if we get a good dose of magnesium every day, but we definitely feel it when we suffer from magnesium deficiency.
New research into the root causes of sleep disturbance and anxiety indicates that a magnesium deficiency may be partly to blame.
Magnesium deficiency and sleep
- One study suggested that taking 500 mg magnesium for eight weeks improved the sleep quality of subjects with insomnia. Essentially they found that taking magnesium supplements worked for those with really serious sleep conditions, and there is a good chance it can also work on those who only have minor sleep disturbances.
- Studies suggest taking magnesium can also help people who have trouble sleeping due to a condition referred to as Restless Leg Syndrome – where you have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs due to discomfort.
- Magnesium intake has been cited to have positive effects on GABA – a neurotransmitter responsible for putting us in a relaxed state which is necessary for sleep to occur.
- In a study that involved participants diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, researchers said daily supplementation of magnesium for six weeks improved depression scores as well as reduced anxiety levels regardless of age, gender, and even if the subject uses antidepressants.
- In a systematic review composed of 18 studies about magnesium supplementation, scientists concluded that there is a benefit to taking magnesium for the purpose of reducing anxiety. They even go on to suggest that taking magnesium can also help with premenstrual symptoms.
Getting Enough Magnesium
What foods contain magnesium?
You can get more magnesium by eating magnesium rich foods. Add some of the following to your PCOS 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.
Should you supplement with magnesium?
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 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 usual dosage 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. PCOS Diva Super Magnesium supplement is the best possible quality magnesium supplement you can find.
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.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
- Tarleton EK, Littenberg B, MacLean CD, Kennedy AG, Daley C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. Song Y, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(6):e0180067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180067.
- Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. doi:10.3390/nu9050429.
- Guerrero-romero F, Rodríguez-morán M. The effect of lowering blood pressure by magnesium supplementation in diabetic hypertensive adults with low serum magnesium levels: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Hum Hypertens. 2009;23(4):245-51; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26582579
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- Held K, Antonijevic IA, Künzel H, et al. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002;35(4):135-43.
- Nielsen FH, Johnson LK, Zeng H. Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnes Res. 2010;23(4):158-68.