The Importance of Magnesium
Magnesium is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to the minerals in your body. We often overlook it in our treatment plans for women trying to conceive, but it is an incredibly powerful solution for women looking to regulate their cycles, balance their hormones, fix digestive issues, resolve headaches, get pregnant, sleep better, and reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, there are over 100 symptoms and lab test abnormalities that have been associated with a lack of magnesium – from angina (chest pain) to constipation, crohn’s disease to chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines to menstrual cramps, osteoporosis and beyond… We can find evidence of magnesium deficiency having a negative impact on the body’s functioning in any of the systems.
For women, magnesium plays many important roles in hormonal balancing and promoting fertility. Here are some of the many reasons to incorporate magnesium into your supplement protocol:
1. PMS (pre menstrual syndrome) and its associated symptoms have been linked in numerous studies to low magnesium. Often, supplementing with magnesium throughout the month and raising one's levels offers much relief for tender breasts, back pain, cramping, changes in bowel habits, and other symptoms that occur premenstrually.
2. Imbalances of estrogen and progesterone in the female body can drain magnesium – studies have shown that women with high estrogen levels (“estrogen dominant”) typically have low magnesium (often 30% lower than women with normal estrogen).
3. If you crave chocolate, you are likely craving magnesium: ounce for ounce, chocolate has more magnesium than any other food. Premenstrual chocolate craving is so widespread because magnesium levels are most depleted in the last week of the cycle (the solution is not to eat more chocolate – it is to take some magnesium!).
4. Aches, pains, muscle spasms, cramping and migraines all show benefit with magnesium supplementation. Many studies have shown relief of painful periods with high doses of magnesium.
5. Magnesium is required in higher amounts during pregnancy – taking it pre-conception to increase stores is a smart approach to create a healthier pregnancy.
6. Male factor infertility has also been associated with magnesium deficiency – there are high levels of both magnesium and zinc in the seminal fluid. Statistically, men suffering from infertility have lower magnesium levels.
7. Some physicians believe that spasms in the fallopian tubes can cause infertility – Dr. Sherry Rogers (a fellow at the American College of Nutrition) suggests that a magnesium deficiency may be the cause of these small spasms, and supplementation with magnesium may reverse it.
8. Taking magnesium throughout pregnancy can decrease the risks pregnancy induced hypertension (high blood pressure), premature birth, and eclampsia (a serious pregnancy complication where the mother experiences seizures).
9. Magnesium deficiency has been implicated in SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and may be prevented by ensuring both the mother and child have adequate magnesium levels.
10. A body deficient in magnesium ages at an accelerated rate – in fact, rat studies have shown that chronic marginal magnesium deficiency reduces life span in rats. In advanced maternal age, it is our goal to turn back the reproductive clock and magnesium supplementation may help.
Dosing for magnesium is different for various conditions and each individual will tolerate it differently. Typically, I recommend starting with a dose between 300-500mg per day, before bed. In certain cases, we may recommend much higher doses.
Dr. Kali MacIsaac HBSc, ND
Reference text: The Magnesium Miracle, Dr Carolyn Dean MD ND