Studies show that magnesium deficiencies are more common in women with PCOS. Learn how supplementing with magnesium may help manage insulin resistance, inflammation, anxiety, and more.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that greatly impacts the lives of up to 18% of women all over the world. PCOS affects multiple systems of the body including our metabolic, reproductive, and mental health. The long-term associations of PCOS include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. This is why daily lifelong management is important. While we are still learning much regarding root causes and treatment options, there is evidence that particular minerals may play a role.
Why is Magnesium Important for PCOS?
Magnesium is crucial for women with PCOS for several reasons. Research shows that magnesium can:
I was the lead author of a clinical study published earlier this year in Food Science & Nutrition which assessed dietary intake in women with and without PCOS (Cutler et al., 2019). One of our findings was that magnesium intake was decreased in women with insulin-resistant PCOS. In addition, we found that the greater magnesium women with PCOS consumed, the lower their levels of testosterone and markers of inflammation were.
How Much Magnesium Do We Need?
The recommended daily amount of magnesium is 320 mg for an adult woman. This will vary depending on factors such as body size and stage of life. Some foods that are great sources of magnesium include legumes, whole grains, broccoli, squash, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and dark chocolate.
Stress can strike at any time, even on a warm summer’s day. Learn why managing stress is important and how this iced tea can help.
We are all aware that stress can strike at any time. Yes, even on a warm midsummer’s day. Read on to learn why adding magnesium to iced tea can help cool and chill you out.
Why is managing stress important?
When we experience a stressful event, specific hormones are released to protect our bodies. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is secreted to combat stress. However, when we are exposed to stress over a long period of time, excess cortisol released can cause immunosuppression. This is why chronic stress is thought to be responsible for many health conditions. For example, highly-stressed type A personalities are often at higher risk of a heart problem, such as a stroke or heart attack. Stress can also impact people with and at risk for type 2 diabetes by further increasing blood sugar levels. Chronic stress can also lead to other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Fortunately, finding ways to manage stress can be very effective at decreasing our risk of health complications.
The link between stress and magnesium
The connection between magnesium and stress is interesting because magnesium deficiencies affect our ability to respond to stressful situations, but also, stress depletes magnesium in our bodies! When we are in a state of stress, we excrete more magnesium in our urine. Magnesium is crucial for combating stress because it downregulates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis reducing cortisol production. Evidence suggests that supplementing with magnesium may reduce anxiety, depression, and support stress management.
How I supplement with magnesium
We can increase our stress-fighting powers and make sipping magnesium citrate powder even more delicious by adding it to a calming tea, like lavender, lemon balm, passionflower, or chamomile. Ginseng, an adaptogenic antioxidant often found in tea, has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety through regulating the HPA axis.
For more on mood-boosting teas and spices check out this post.
Magnesium can assist with regulating our sleep cycles which is important to stay healthy while traveling. Chewable magnesium gummies make it easy!
Traveling is a joy and an incredible privilege, but it can also disrupt our sleep schedule. A change of time zones interrupts our circadian rhythm (especially when going from West to East). Early mornings fueled with caffeine and late nights accompanied by alcohol also affect our circadian rhythm. In addition, a change in eating habits can compromise our vitamin and mineral intake.
Magnesium is important for the proper functioning of our nerves, muscles, brains, and hearts. Several chronic diseases have been associated with low magnesium levels including insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, migraines, ADHD and Alzheimer’s. Magnesium also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in relaxation and sleep regulation. Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to sleep disorders. Further, randomized controlled trials have shown that daily magnesium supplementation can improve sleep quality and quantity (2002, 2012).
As someone who has suffered from insomnia for most of my life, consuming magnesium has made a huge difference. Since I was a young child I would lay awake in bed at night wondering if I would fall asleep. Then, I would get frustrated with myself for not being able to sleep and the cycle of insomnia continued. I tried everything from inducing a relaxation response to counting sheep. A relaxation exercise I still use today looks like this: I begin by systematically tensing and relaxing each part of my body, starting at my head and ending at my toes. This is known as progressive muscle relaxation and can be helpful for reducing anxiety. Now, along with being mindful of consuming foods high in magnesium, I take a magnesium supplement one-two hours before bedtime. I find I fall asleep faster and wake less frequently (both huge reliefs!).
On my recent trip to Europe, I packed my vegan, gluten-free Natural Calm magnesium gummies to help ensure a good night’s sleep, and benefit from the other health properties of magnesium. Chewable gummies eliminate the need to find clean water to take a pill which can be tricky in a foreign country. I also experience anxiety when I have to swallow a large pill so chewable vitamins have been a lifesaver. I would love to hear what your experience with magnesium and sleep has been.