As my patients can tell you, I prescribe magnesium supplements for almost every hormonal condition, including PCOS, insulin resistance, PMDD, migraines, and perimenopause.
Magnesium deficiency is common because modern soils are depleted and your body wastes magnesium during times of stress. So, if you’re stressed, you may need magnesium.
Magnesium for hormonal balance
Magnesium calms the nervous system and regulates the HPA axis. Your stress control system (HPA) axis is your central hormonal system, and when it’s working well, it supports other hormones.
Magnesium lowers blood sugar and normalizes insulin. It’s so effective at improving insulin sensitivity that I call magnesium “natural metformin.” Healthy insulin sensitivity and low blood sugar are a good chance to reverse PCOS.
Magnesium supports thyroid health. It is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps reduce the autoimmune inflammation that underlies most thyroid diseases. Other ways to address thyroid autoimmunity include avoiding gluten and supplementing with selenium.
Magnesium helps with sleep, especially when combined with the amino acids glycine and taurine (see below).
Magnesium supports healthy mitochondria, which is important for hormonal health because steroid hormones are made in the mitochondria.
Magnesium normalizes progesterone activity in the central nervous system, which relieves PMDD, migraines, and perimenopausal symptoms.
Magnesium activates vitamin D. Without enough magnesium, vitamin D cannot do its job. Conversely, too much vitamin D can lead to magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium slows aging by preventing telomere shortening, reducing oxidative stress, and increasing glutathione synthesis.
For more information on magnesium and women’s health, read the following.
Magnesium in gynecological practice: a review of the literature
Magnesium and the menstrual cycle
Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a major driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis
Can you check for deficiencies?
There is no accurate way to diagnose magnesium deficiency. Most magnesium is intracellular, so serum tests are not helpful. A red blood cell magnesium test is slightly better, but not as accurate.
The best way to determine a magnesium deficiency is to try a magnesium supplement and see how you feel.
The best type of magnesium supplement
Magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate (a mineral that binds to the amino acid glycine) is the most easily absorbed form of magnesium and the least likely to cause diarrhea. Magnesium glycinate provides the added benefit of glycine, a precursor to glutathione, and promotes healthy insulin sensitivity and methylation. Glycine promotes sleep by calming the nervous system, modulating NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and lowering core body temperature.
Magnesium pairs well with the amino acid taurine, an essential nutrient for mood, mitochondria and insulin sensitivity.
The best dose of magnesium
A therapeutic dose of magnesium is at least 300 mg, usually equivalent to three capsules. If your label says “500 mg magnesium glycinate” per capsule, make sure it’s referring to “total” magnesium glycinate (magnesium plus glycine). Read carefully how much “magnesium equivalent” or “elemental magnesium” each capsule contains.