Another easy tool for your PMS-busting arsenal: Magnesium

My Hormonology

Another easy tool for your PMS-busting arsenal: Magnesium

happinessI’ve written about a bunch of easy and study-proven methods to reduce or prevent premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including a list of 8 PMS-busting supplements and herbs.

But, I’ve never focused on magnesium’s role in helping to reduce premenstrual woes.

That is, till an eagle-eyed Hormonology newsletter subscriber, Hilary, realized my omission.

Hilary wrote in an email to me that she’s been taking magnesium daily for the past two weeks–and has noticed a dramatic difference in her premenstrual mood: She’s been “extra happy” during her Week 4, which she says is totally out of character for her.

However, she didn’t see any mention of magnesium on my website. So, she helpfully sent a link to research about the topic and asked me to share.

Since we gals can never have too many tools in our PMS-busting arsenal, I’m totally up for telling you about magnesium. So, I did a little more digging and found a bunch more studies worth telling you about also.

Here are three ways this mineral makes your premenstrual Week 4 better:

1. Magnesium can help boost a premenstrual mood

Taking a magnesium supplement daily or only during the second half of your menstrual cycle (Week 3 and Week 4) can reduce anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness that can occur due to hormone fluctuations on these days, research shows.

In a 1991 study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, volunteers took 360 mg. of magnesium three times daily. However, a much lower amount was used–250 mg. in a slow-release magnesium tablet–in a 2007 study in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation. (Check my tip down below for taking magnesium–you don’t want to start off with too high a dose too quickly.)

While Hilary experienced relief pretty quickly–after just two weeks of taking magnesium supplements–it can take two to three full menstrual cycles to feel this mineral’s full mood-lifting effects.

Tip: You can boost this mood-lifting effect by taking 40 to 50 mg. of vitamin B6 daily on top of magnesium, according to a 2010 study from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran and 2000 study from the UK’s University of Reading.

The researchers believe these two nutrients work synergistically to provide more mood relief than taking either alone.

2. Magnesium can reduce premenstrual bloat

When progesterone rises in Week 3 of your cycle (which starts right after ovulation in the middle of your cycle), it triggers water retention that can make your belly swell and your breasts sore.

Luckily, relief from bloating can be just one daily magnesium pill away: That’s the word from a 1998 study in the Journal of Women’s Health that found taking 200 mg. of magnesium every day of your cycle can reduce hormone-related bloat and breast pain once your Week 3 arrives.

Why? Magnesium acts as a natural diuretic, helping the body shed excess fluid.

But, as with the mood-boosting benefit, you have to be patient: This study found it takes two whole cycles of taking magnesium daily to see the full results.

3. Magnesium cuts down on menstrual migraines

In a 1996 study in the journal Cephalalgia, migraineurs who took 600 mg. of magnesium daily for 12 weeks experienced an impressive 41.6% reduction in headaches while a placebo group saw just a 15.8% drop.

How it works: Magnesium affects key brain structures and chemicals believed to play critical roles in the onset of migraines.

Tip for taking magnesium: If you haven’t taken magnesium supplements before, start with 200 mg. daily for two weeks, then if you need to, add another 200 mg. for the next two weeks and another 200 mg. two weeks later. This will help you avoid loose stool that can accompany higher doses of this mineral.

Note: If you take antibiotics, diuretics or muscle relaxants, ask your doctor before you take magnesium since this mineral can interact with these medications. Check out what other medications and health conditions magnesium can affect at WebMD.

If magnesium helps you like it did Hilary–or you have a favorite PMS-buster I haven’t covered yet–let me know!