24 Nov 4 ways magnesium makes menstrual cycles better
BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN
- Numerous studies show that magnesium can help treat menstrual-related issues including improving premenstrual moods, decreasing menstrual cramp pain, reducing water retention and cutting migraine frequency.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 24, 2022 (originally published March 20, 2019)—Over the years, you’ve probably heard friends or family tell you that they turn to magnesium to help with sleep and treat constipation. But, did you know this mineral is also proven to help ease four other common menstrual cycle-related issues?
Here’s how getting more magnesium through your daily diet (such as with almonds, spinach, cashews, soy milk and black beans) or supplements makes every menstrual cycle better….
1. Magnesium improves premenstrual moods
Dream of calmer and happier premenstrual days? Try getting 250 mg. daily of magnesium through supplements or food. This simple step can reduce anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness that can occur due to plunging estrogen on pre-period days, shows a 2007 study in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation.1
The reason this mineral can do so much? It reduces stress (which is known to worsen premenstrual mood issues), helps regulate emotion-moderating brain chemicals and reins in inflammation, which has been linked to depression.
Keep in mind that it can take two to three menstrual cycles to feel this mineral’s full joy-lifting effects, so patience is key.
Tip: You can boost this premenstrual mood-enhancing effect by taking 40 mg. to 50 mg. of vitamin B6 daily in addition to magnesium, according to a 2010 study from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran and a 2000 study from the UK’s University of Reading.2,3
Vitamin B6 is known to lessen premenstrual mood issues by helping the brain balance serotonin4, and the researchers believe that these two nutrients work synergistically to provide more mood relief when taken together than when taking either alone.
2. Magnesium eases menstrual cramps
It’s always a smart idea to look for ways to cut back on your intake of over-the-counter analgesics (such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen) to treat menstrual cramps since these drugs come with significant risks, especially when you take them over time. Just a few of these potential harms include stomach bleeding, liver failure and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, there are numerous study-backed ways to ease cramps without resorting to pain pills. For example, you can apply a heat patch or hot water bottle to your pelvic area (heat blocks pain signals and relaxes spasming uterine muscles), massage your pelvic area with massage oil that contains essential oils (which reduces inflammation and improves blood flow) and take ginger through ginger tea, ginger candy or ginger supplements (since ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory).
Another drug-free option: Magnesium!
In three studies, volunteers who took magnesium daily for six months had less menstrual cramp pain than those who took a placebo.
The reason it works? Magnesium reduces menstrual discomfort three ways: It relaxes spasming uterine muscles, improves blood flow and curbs the production of prostaglandins–a hormone-like chemical that triggers pain and inflammation.
Aim for the daily recommended amount of magnesium, which is 310 mg. for women ages 19 to 30 and 320 mg. for women 31 and older.5
3. Magnesium reduces premenstrual bloat and breast pain
Wonder why your belly swells and your breasts get tender during the luteal phase of your cycle (which spans the day after ovulation through the day before your next period)? Point a guilty finger to higher levels of progesterone. When elevated, one of the side effects of this hormone is fluid retention that can cause belly bloat and breast soreness.
The easy solution: Reduce fluid retention, for example, by doing aerobic exercise (which helps you sweat out excess fluid), consuming less salt (since this seasoning worsens fluid retention) and drinking enough water and other hydrating beverages throughout the day (which helps balance sodium in your cells).
What also helps: Getting 200 mg. of magnesium every day from food or supplements. That’s the word from a 1998 study in the Journal of Women’s Health that found this small daily dose can reduce bloating and breast pain due to elevated progesterone.6
Why? Magnesium acts as a natural diuretic, helping the body shed excess fluid.
But, as with mood-boosting benefit, you have to be patient: This study found that you need to take magnesium daily for two cycles to experience its full effects.
4. Magnesium cuts down on menstrual migraines
If you get menstrual migraines, this is news you’ll want to hear: 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.7
Magnesium affects key brain structures and chemicals believed to play critical roles in the onset of migraines. It may also reverse a magnesium deficiency frequently found in migraineurs that can end up triggering these head-pounders.
Since this a dose that’s nearly double the recommended daily limit, talk with your healthcare provider before trying this regimen.
Tip for taking magnesium supplements: If you haven’t taken magnesium supplements before, start with a small dose for two weeks, then up your intake slowly, and split up your dose through the day. This will help you avoid loose stool that can accompany higher doses of this mineral.
Important: Ask your healthcare provider before taking any new supplement. Magnesium can interact with antibiotics, diuretics, muscle relaxants and other medications. For more information, visit WebMD.
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(1) S. Quaranta , et al., “Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome”, Clinical Drug Investigation, 27 (2007): 51-58
(2) Nahid Fathizadeh, 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, 15 (2010): 401-405
(3) M. C. De Souza, et al., “A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study”, Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine, 9 (2000): 131-139
(4) H. Doll, et al., “Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and the premenstrual syndrome: a randomized crossover trial”, The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, (1989): 364-368
(6) A. F. Walker, et al., “Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention”, Journal of Women’s Health, (1998): 1157-1165
(7) A. Peikert, et al., “Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study”, Cephalalgia, (1996): 257-263
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