The mineral magnesium is a powerhouse nutrient which is crucial for an extraordinary number of bodily functions – in fact is important in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. From regulating mood, maintaining healthy heartbeat to supporting sleep, muscle and nerve function along with energy production to name just a few. It’s clear the mineral is vital for both men and women. In this article, we explore the women specific health benefits of magnesium.
Over the course of their lives, women can experience additional emotional and physical demands on their bodies. This can often include juggling careers with pregnancy and raising a family, possibly in addition to health issues such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), mental health conditions or digestive issues while menopausal symptoms may start as early as in the forties. Here’s how magnesium can support women.
Stress management and detoxification
A theme in the modern world is stress and it is known that magnesium plays a vital role in stress management along with vitamins B5, B6 and C.
Similarly, when preparing for conception it is critical to ensure the diet is rich in antioxidant nutrients and that detoxification is supported. Magnesium plays a role in detoxification; this is where toxins are eliminated from the body. In fact, toxins can disrupt several body processes such as hormones, brain function and digestion.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Some conditions associated with menstruation can be a result of hormone disruption or blood glucose disruption such as PMS or PCOS. Subsequently magnesium may offer relief, magnesium contributes to normal hormone production and similarly assists insulin in removing blood glucose and delivering it to the cells.
Menopause is characterised by a decline in the hormones progesterone and oestrogen, and ultimately the cessation of menstruation. The experience can be exacerbated by an inadequate intake of the nutrients necessary to produce hormones, subsequently, magnesium alongside vitamin B6 and saturated fats intake is vital.
In addition, magnesium can be useful to support the menopause symptoms that affect mood, ability to cope with stress, increased blood pressure and when balanced with calcium, for bone mineral density which is critical to ward off osteoporosis and damage from a fall.
How much magnesium do women need?
To support this wide range of roles, Public Health England recommend that adults should aim to consume 300mg daily.
Magnesium can be found naturally in many different foods but in small quantities. To meet this, each meal should have at least 3 magnesium containing foods to help achieve a realistic daily intake.
Fortunately, certain wholefoods are rich in magnesium such as oats and barley or the pseudocereals buckwheat and quinoa. Other good sources include oily fish at 120mg per fillet and pumpkin, flax and chia seeds and dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids).
Tip: Try adding a large handful of leafy green vegetables to each meal. Leaves such as spinach, kale, mustard greens and collard greens are great additions to meals and smoothies and can provide 150mg per double handful.
For those days when meals are lacking in magnesium rich sources, a food supplement may be a good option. Ideally choose 300mg of magnesium per serving. Often magnesium food supplements are as capsules or as a powder; in this form they do not have binders and non-nutritive additives. Magnesium is a very large molecule in comparison to vitamins.
If you are looking to optimise your magnesium intake using food supplements, magnesium is available on its own or partnered with another nutrient(s).
Magnesium is contraindicated with some medication, especially those that interact with the cardiovascular system or support osteoporosis. For this reason, it is recommended that you discuss any potential supplementation with your GP when you are prescribed medication.
Magnesium has wide-reaching benefits for women throughout their life. In terms of treatment and prevention, this impressive mineral can support many health issues from pregnancy to managing symptoms of PMS and the menopause. For more about magnesium intake and catering for individual needs, visit your local independent health store: www.findahealthstore.com
Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health.
The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.