The right amount of magnesium may help women manage menopause symptoms like hot flashes, depression and heart health risks.

Magnesium is a vital mineral found in the human body. It has a direct impact on mood, keeps the bones healthy and has a role to play in hundreds of biochemical reactions throughout the body. Its role in helping to provide relief in menopause symptoms makes it even more crucial for women going through that transition in life..

What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that starts at the age of 51-52, on average, even though it can start years before or after. This phase marks the end of menstruation and is accompanied by symptoms like hot flashes, sleep issues, weight gain, loss of bone density or muscle mass, and fluctuations in hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone. Because of these symptoms, this phase becomes hard for women. Managing menopause may come with a combination of the right diet, adequate physical exercise and positive emotions.

Magnesium for menopause: Benefits, Side Effects and Best Foods
Menopause can be a stressful time for most women, physically and mentally as well. Image courtesy: Freepik

Does magnesium have benefits for menopause?

Multiple nutrients are good for women during the menopause. But magnesium can potentially help alleviate several symptoms associated with menopause due to its role in various physiological processes in the body. Here are ways in which magnesium may help with menopause symptoms:

1. May bring relief from hot flashes and night sweats

Magnesium is said to help regulate body temperature and reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats, which are common symptoms of menopause.

2. May improve sleep quality

Magnesium can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, which is often disrupted during menopause. Better sleep can also indirectly help reduce other menopausal symptoms like irritability and fatigue.

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3. May reduce mood swings and anxiety

Magnesium has calming effects on the nervous system and may help alleviate mood swings, anxiety, and irritability experienced by menopausal women”. Low levels of magnesium are linked to heightened feelings of depression or anxiety. A study analyzing 8,984 participants showed that people with low magnesium levels, less than 183 mg per day, experienced greater feelings of depression.

4. May boost bone health

Magnesium is essential for bone health and works in conjunction with calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone density. Menopausal women are at increased risk of osteoporosis, and adequate magnesium intake may contribute to bone strength. A 7-year follow-up study that analyzed 73,684 postmenopausal women found that a high intake of 334-422 mg or greater of magnesium from food or supplements was linked to higher bone mineral density.

5. May control muscle cramps and tension

Magnesium helps regulate muscle function and can reduce muscle cramps, spasms, and tension, which are common complaints during menopause.

6. May be good for heart health

Magnesium plays a role in maintaining cardiovascular health by supporting normal blood pressure and heart rhythm. Menopausal women may benefit from magnesium’s heart-protective effects, tells the expert. Low levels of magnesium amount to poor heart health. A study done on 3,173 postmenopausal women found that high magnesium levels were linked with lower inflammatory markers pertaining to heart diseases which indicated better heart health.

magnesium and menopause
Menopause may increase heart disease risk. However, with the right magnesium supplementation, the risk of these issues can be curbed. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. May soothe constipation

Some menopausal women experience digestive issues like constipation, and magnesium can act as a natural laxative, promoting regular bowel movements.

8. May improve brain function

Magnesium is important for cognitive function and may help support memory and concentration, which can be affected by hormonal changes during menopause.

How much magnesium can I consume per day?

The recommended daily dosage of magnesium for menopausal women may vary depending on individual factors such as age, overall health, and specific symptoms. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for magnesium varies by age and gender but generally ranges from 310-420 mg per day for adult women, tells the expert.

Risks or side effects of consuming magnesium during menopause

While magnesium supplements can offer several health benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential risks or side effects, especially when taking higher doses. Here are some considerations regarding the risks and side effects of magnesium supplementation:

1. Gastrointestinal issues

One of the most common side effects of magnesium supplements is digestive upset, including diarrhoea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. This is more likely to occur with certain forms of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide. To minimize these effects, start with a lower dose and gradually increase if tolerated.

2. Drug interactions

Magnesium supplements can interact with certain medications, including antibiotics, diuretics, and medications used for heart conditions. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting magnesium supplementation if you are taking any medications to avoid potential interactions.

3. Kidney function

Individuals with impaired kidney function may be at risk of magnesium toxicity if they take high doses of magnesium supplements. Excess magnesium cannot be efficiently excreted by the kidneys in such cases, leading to elevated levels in the body.

magnesium and menopause
Eat foods rich in magnesium to help ease menopausal symptoms. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Heart health

While magnesium is generally beneficial for heart health, very high doses of magnesium supplements can affect heart rhythm and may be dangerous for individuals with certain heart conditions. It’s crucial to follow recommended dosages and seek medical advice if you have underlying heart issues.

5. Allergic reactions

In rare cases, individuals may experience allergic reactions to magnesium supplements, characterized by symptoms like rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

6. Overdose

Although magnesium toxicity from dietary sources is rare, excessive intake of magnesium supplements can lead to symptoms such as lethargy, confusion, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and even respiratory distress. It’s important to adhere to recommended dosages and avoid excessive supplementation.

Best food sources of magnesium

Fortunately, magnesium can be found in many foods, making it seamless to add to our daily diet. Foods rich in magnesium include:

• Almonds
• Avocado
• Bananas
• Beans
• Broccoli
• Cashews
• Dark chocolate
• Fish (salmon, halibut)
• Leafy greens like spinach
• Oatmeal
• Pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds
• Soybeans
• Tofu

It is important to note that while magnesium supplementation or increased dietary intake may be beneficial for menopausal symptoms, individual responses can vary. It is recommended to consult with a gynaecologist before starting any new supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications that may interact with magnesium. Additionally, magnesium should be part of a comprehensive approach to managing menopause symptoms, which may include lifestyle changes, hormone therapy (if appropriate), and other supportive measures.

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