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What does magnesium do for females? How does this vital mineral affect female health, and how do you know if you’re deficient in magnesium, which is true for many women? These are topics we explore below and answer questions.
What Is Magnesium?
Your brain and body require magnesium, and magnesium’s benefits include blood sugar levels, mood, and heart. Magnesium is in all of your body’s cells, and this mineral primarily occurs in bone and your soft tissues, muscles, and fluids, including your blood.
One of the primary roles of magnesium is to be a cofactor, a molecule that serves as a helper. The mineral plays a role in more than 600 bodily reactions, including energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements, and the regulation of the nervous system.
Studies indicate that around half of all adults in the U.S. get less than the recommended amount of magnesium daily.
If you don’t get enough magnesium for long periods, it can lead to deficiency. Certain medical conditions play a role in your body’s ability to absorb or increase the magnesium your body excretes. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weakness.
A severe magnesium deficiency can lead to numbness, changes in heart rhythm, personal changes, muscle cramps, and even seizures.
What Does Magnesium Do for Females?
Back to the original question—what does magnesium do for females? Below we highlight why magnesium is so essential for women’s health.
Mood and Mental Health
Magnesium can play a major role in mood and mental health. Magnesium may help with conditions like ADHD, anxiety, and depression; low levels can adversely affect mood. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or like your mood is off, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency.
When you get enough magnesium, it helps increase your energy levels, activates vitamin D, and helps you sleep better.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies and involves hundreds of reactions. Many of those reactions play a role in the regulation of the nervous system and your mood.
Several studies have shown that lower magnesium levels can be associated with psychiatric and neurological disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. In 2017, a review was done, looking at 18 separate studies. In that review, it was found magnesium decreased anxiety in the majority of participants.
Specifically, magnesium acts on the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus and the pituitary, which contain tissues that control the release of stress chemicals.
One pathway magnesium effect is the glutamate receptor site. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in brain function. If you have too much glutamate, it can overstimulate your cells, leading to mood changes, including depression and anxiety.
Magnesium binds to the receptor protein found on your cell membranes, blocking glutamate from binding to those places, which is why the mineral can have an antidepressant effect.
Magnesium can prevent the creation of too much cortisol, which is the stress hormone. If your stress hormone system isn’t balanced correctly, then it’s going to affect all of your hormone levels.
Magnesium is involved in glucose and insulin signaling. When you have a magnesium deficiency, it can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women with PCOS specifically may not be getting enough magnesium. In one study, women with a magnesium deficiency were 19 times more likely to have PCOS.
When you get enough magnesium, it can reduce insulin sensitivity and blood pressure and help with anxiety.
Magnesium may also reduce inflammation and pain, help with sleep quality and alleviate symptoms of PMS.
There are a few theories as to why women with PCOS and metabolic disorders are more likely to be magnesium deficiency.
One theory is that having consistently high insulin levels can lower magnesium levels.
Additionally, your diet can lead to a magnesium deficiency, and some factors can affect magnesium absorption. For example, taking certain medications like diuretics or birth control pills can reduce magnesium absorption.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
As mentioned above, talking about what magnesium does for females specifically can help with PMS.
Studies have consistently found magnesium levels in women suffering from PMS symptoms are lower than in women without those symptoms. As a result, some propose using magnesium supplements to help prevent and treat PMS.
Combining magnesium supplements with vitamin B6 can be especially helpful for treating PMS, likely because of the anti-inflammatory effects.
One study of women taking 250 mg of magnesium daily showed reductions in depression, anxiety, and bloating. Other studies have found magnesium may help alleviate cramps, probably because of its role as a smooth muscle relaxant.
A magnesium supplement can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, one of the most common reasons for maternal and fetal death.
In studies, magnesium is more effective than placebos and medications for preventing eclampsia in preeclamptic women.
Low magnesium levels are associated with low bone density in pre-and postmenopausal women. There’s evidence that postmenopausal women and osteoporotic women have lower levels of magnesium than non-osteoporotic women.
There is a likely benefit of magnesium supplements to reduce osteoporotic fractures and risk factors.
Magnesium supplementation can prevent bone turnover, and it also helps positively optimize vitamin D, which also supports bone health.
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is hot flashes, which are also associated with heart-related risk factors. Magnesium may help regulate blood pressure, cardiac excitability, and insulin metabolism, reducing hot flashes.
An imbalance in serotonin and norepinephrine also cause hot flashes, and magnesium can help create more balance, which is another way it may reduce hot flashes.
After menopause, women with hypertension or high blood pressure tend to go up. Hypertension is a severe risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and there’s evidence it’s often less well-controlled in women than men.
Studies have shown a potential link between magnesium intake and the risk of hypertension.
In general, heart disease is a major killer of women. Magnesium helps maintain a regular heart rhythm, and it may help with atrial fibrillation, too, since it’s a smooth muscle relaxant.
In a study with women, magnesium supplements positively impacted many heart disease risk factors including good and bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Magnesium can help prevent clotting and thickening of the blood, and that can reduce the risk of blood clots.
Getting enough high-quality sleep is one of the most important things women can do, but it’s not always easy.
Magnesium can promote relaxation and help you sleep longer. Magnesium helps with healthy GABA levels, a neurotransmitter promoting sleep, and can help regulate melatonin secretion.
Magnesium makes the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and can help your body maintain hormonal balance. Magnesium supplementation can be especially beneficial for hormonal balance if you’re getting into perimenopause or just off the birth control pill.
Magnesium can be helpful for migraines. A dose of anywhere from 400 to 600 mg of magnesium daily may help prevent migraines. Magnesium may prevent brain signaling called cortisol, spreading depression. That’s the effect that leads to visual and sensory changes with auras.
Magnesium can also improve platelet function and block chemicals that transmit pain signals, plus it may also prevent the narrowing of blood vessels caused by serotonin.
Taking a daily dose of magnesium can prevent menstrual-related migraine.
What Does Magnesium Do for Females—Wrap Up
To sum up some of the things magnesium does for females, it may:
- Improve mood and mental health, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as PTSD
- Help symptoms of PCOS
- Improve symptoms of PMS
- Promote bone health
- Reduce hot flashes
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve sleep quality
- Balance hormones
- Prevent migraines
Magnesium is something more people are deficient in than they may realize. You might consider supplementing if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of low magnesium above.
Porri, Debora, et al. “Effect of magnesium supplementation on women’s health and well-being.” NFS Journal, June 2021. Accessed January 2, 2023.
Tonick, Shawna, et al. “Magnesium in Women’s Health and Gynecology.” Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, April 2021. Accessed January 2, 2023.
Office of Dietary Supplements. “Magnesium.” NIH National Institutes of Health, June 2, 2022. Accessed January 2, 2023.