Many women today choose to juggle family life and children with their career, maintaining a dynamic social life, their fitness commitments (did someone say eight week challenge?!) and more. While both inspiring and empowering, this can certainly add an element of stress to day-to-day life, leading to an increased risk of hormonal imbalance1 and a greater requirement for magnesium.2 This mineral is necessary for a number of roles in the body including healthy nervous system and muscular function, restorative sleep, energy production, and more (including hormonal balance!). If your busy lifestyle leaves you feeling tired, stressed and out of balance, magnesium could be just the thing your body’s craving.
Do You Need More Magnesium?
While stress is a key culprit in reducing magnesium, there are other factors which can diminish levels of this vital mineral including reproductive hormonal changes (e.g. pregnancy) and long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill.3
Further, modern food processing techniques can contribute to a reduction of dietary magnesium consumed.4 If you are one of the many women with hormonal complaints such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS),5 menstrual migraine,6 polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)7 and symptomatic menopause;8,9 your magnesium levels may be 20-30% lower than those who are symptom free.
For more on hormonal conditions read this article.
That’s not all though. Many women turn to coffee and/or alcohol as a way of raising energy or ‘winding down’; however, research shows an excess intake of these can also deplete magnesium levels.10 If this is you, it may well be time to explore some new invigorating or stress management strategies, such as swapping out one of your fitness classes for some restorative yoga, or perhaps a regular walk in nature.
How Stress Wields a Hefty Blow
Even if you don’t feel stressed, the persistent busyness of everyday life is still seen as a type of stress which can take its toll on your body. The ‘stress response’ causes the adrenal glands to release hormones (e.g. cortisol) and neurotransmitters (messenger molecules such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and a small amount of dopamine). However, this leads to magnesium being released from your cells, and excreted via the urine, lowering levels and amplifying the stress response.11 Essentially, whilst you have an increased demand for magnesium when you are stressed, your body offloads it when you need it most! This vicious cycle can leave you low in magnesium, with flow-on effects on healthy nervous system function and hormonal balance.
The Magic of Magnesium for Female Health
Whilst the mechanisms impacting magnesium levels may seem complex (and maybe alarming!), the solution is actually very simple – focus on incorporating foods rich in magnesium into your daily diet (e.g. dark green leafy veg, quinoa, almonds, and black beans are all options); plus you can rapidly replenish your magnesium levels through quality supplementation. This way you can support a healthy stress response, but also help tackle any premenstrual migraines, period pains, and/or mood symptoms (e.g. mood swings, irritability, anxiety).12
Interestingly, magnesium also helps to prevent bone loss approaching menopause, by reducing the inflammation and free radical damage that can drive bone deterioration occuring post-menopausally.16 As you can see, virtually all women could benefit from magnesium at some point in their lives.
Which Form of Magnesium is the Best?
This is an understandable question with so many to choose from, and important as not all forms of magnesium are equal. Look for amino acid chelates, such as magnesium bisglycinate (e.g. Meta Mag®). This has a unique biochemical shape that makes it the most effectively absorbed form of magnesium,17,18 which is what you want – magnesium getting to the areas of your body where it is needed most, so you can feel it’s effects.
If you have hormonal symptoms (such as PMS or period pain), magnesium works well alongside:
- Boswellia: a herb with potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects19 to reduce PMS symptoms and period pain;
- Chromium: alleviates cravings associated with PMS;20
- Chamomile: helps relieve stress, calms, and supports healthy mood;21 and
- Broccoli: aids in the elimination of hormone-disrupting environmental chemicals.22,23 (This topic was discussed in an earlier blog.)
As navigating hormonal conditions can be tricky – speak to a natural healthcare Practitioner for the most appropriate solution for your needs for best results.
Create a Life of Hormonal Bliss
Stress management is an essential part of enjoying healthy hormonal balance, but there is more you can do. Take a holistic perspective and support your overall health by engaging in regular physical activity, drinking 1-2 litres of water daily, and ensuring your diet is rich in ‘good’ fats such as avocado, oily fish (e.g. salmon, anchovies, mackerel), and nuts and seeds (your body requires good fats to make hormones).
Busy woman have better things to do than spend time curled up in bed with period pain, or inconvenienced by some other hormonal symptom. If this is you, begin today to turn things around by ensuring you have your stress under control, and speaking to your Practitioner about your need for magnesium (or about any other health related questions you may have) so you can continue to take on the world happy and healthy!
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