10 Reasons Why Magnesium is Important for Hormonal Balance
There are several reasons why magnesium is so important for hormonal balance. Indeed, magnesium has been referred to as a miracle hormone, and for good reason. Unfortunately, magnesium is also “the neglected mineral, we cannot live without.”
It is now well known that magnesium affects at least 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body, and many of these also affect hormone balance.
But what is even more surprising is that nearly everyone in our modern society, in fact, 80% of the US population is deficient in magnesium. However, many people don’t know they are deficient.
And one reason why people don’t know they are deficient in magnesium is that the blood test that is usually done to test for magnesium does not really show the right levels of magnesium in the body.
Now, say what?
Yes, and this is why that is the case. You see, most magnesium is in the cells, and bones and not in the bloodstream. So until there is a test to test for magnesium in the bones and cells, testing for magnesium in the blood is what we have.
Also, magnesium is not usually routinely tested when you visit your doctor, but mostly only when you are really ill and have to be admitted to the hospital.
Therefore, many people are not aware they are deficient. Besides society has always talked about calcium for strong bones. Hardly anyone talks about the role of magnesium in strong bones as well. But that is a topic for another day.
And so, before we talk about how important magnesium is for hormonal balance, let’s further look at the reasons why so many of us are likely deficient in magnesium.
Reasons why many people are deficient in magnesium.
There is a great need for magnesium in the body
One reason so many people are magnesium deficient is that the body uses a lot of magnesium. There is more demand than there is availability.
Once you realize how magnesium functions and how often it is needed, then you can see why we are deficient in magnesium.
For all those 300 plus enzymatic reactions, we need magnesium.
Magnesium is needed for all bodily functions including hormonal balance.
We need magnesium for enzyme activation, energy production, cell membrane function, structural support, muscle contraction, blood pressure control and so much more. See this post on other benefits of magnesium.
Stress is in excess can lead to magnesium depletion
Another reason that leads to magnesium deficiency is that we are using a lot of magnesium in our stressed-out modern lifestyle. You see, it requires much more magnesium to go through a modern-day.
Research shows that magnesium status in the body is highly associated with stress levels, and stress levels and low magnesium, potentiate each other. When one is stressed, in the immediate moment, magnesium is released from the intracellular spaces to the extracellular (bloodstream) and then it is extricated through urine.
Eventually, it becomes a vicious cycle where you are stressed and use up magnesium, then eventually, you become magnesium deficient and so you feel stressed.
What happens with chronic stress is that more and more magnesium is released due to this excessive demand from stress, and this leads to low magnesium levels.
Remember if you are stressed and you are not replacing magnesium through diet or supplement, you are going to be deficient faster.
And there is no denying it. Modern life is stressful. The stress response was designed prehistorically to deal with real danger, in the moment, such as when you needed to run from a wild beast or fight a marauding enemy tribe. So you get a rush of adrenalin to fight that battle and then it’s over. And the fight or flight stress markers would then go back to normal.
But our stress is chronic. We are fighting marauding tribes daily-high bills, fear of the unknown such as COVID, job insecurity, driving in traffic, parenting, meeting with demanding bosses, running a business, and more. It is nonstop.
We go to bed stressed. We wake up stressed and go through the day stressed. So the need for magnesium is very high.
Plus we also likely don’t sleep enough and that causes us to be even more stressed. And all this stress requires that much more magnesium is used in trying to mellow you out.
Yet, our stores are likely out or low because we also don’t consume enough foods rich in magnesium. That lettuce in your burger won’t do it.
Too much sugar consumption, and caffeine
Also, our diet is full of sugar in the form of sweets, sodas, baked goods galore, and in many hidden sources. This makes magnesium matters worse. It takes a lot of magnesium to process sugar.
You see, sugar is such as large molecule and requires 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize just one sugar molecule. And so more magnesium is wasted that way.
We also drink more caffeine in our coffee, tea, and sodas- the drinks of choice we reach out for when we are stressed so as to help us get through the day.
Now you can see this vicious cycle of stress and sugar and caffeine consumption that revs up magnesium consumption leading to a deficiency.
But there is one more reason why you are likely magnesium deficient. Yes. It is still your diet. Many of us are simply not eating enough magnesium foods.
You are not getting enough magnesium if you eat take-out and go through the drive-through for lunch and for dinner mostly. Or you regularly eat from those middle isles in the supermarket, you know, where you find the snacks and the refrigerated foods. These foods are by no means rich in magnesium.
Even our foods are not as rich in magnesium as they once were
Our farms are depleted of magnesium due to modern farming practices. The plants get magnesium from the soil. But if the soils are depleted as well, then they won’t have enough either. Modern farming uses fertilizers containing nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous which have lead to the depletion of soil magnesium because potassium and phosphorous found in these fertilizers are antagonists of magnesium.
So it is good you are eating that green salad but it is not as good as it once was.
Drinking too much leads to magnesium and minerals, and vitamins wasting through urination. This depletes the magnesium stores in the body.
What is worse, those who abuse alcohol are likely already deficient in magnesium. And due to the effects of low magnesium causing depression and anxiety, one is even more likely to continue abusing alcohol to feel better, or nothing in the moment.
So cut back on alcohol consumption to protect your magnesium levels and keep hormones in balance. If alcohol has become a problem please seek help.
Some medications like birth control pills, diuretics, and diabetic medications can lead to magnesium deficiency. Diabetic medications lead to increased renal magnesium loss.
Also, some antimicrobials like aminoglycosides such as gentamicin, tobramycin, amikacin, lead to reduced reabsorption of magnesium, increased renal wasting, and secondary hyperaldosteronism (source).
Other drugs that cause magnesium deficiency include antivirals and antifungals. Also beware of acid reflux medications like omeprazole, and Protonix as they interfere with gastric magnesium absorption and likely renal wasting( source).
Some chronic diseases can lead to magnesium deficiency. These include chrons, Ibs, short bowel syndrome, Whipple’s disease, UC, because they cause magnesium malabsorption problems in the gut.
Other problems associated with low magnesium include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and aldosteronism.
One major problem with magnesium deficiency is kidney disease. The kidneys work tirelessly to filter your blood carefully keeping minerals you need and letting the others go.
But when kidneys stop working well as in diabetes, too much magnesium is filtered out leaving one magnesium deficient.
What are the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
Unfortunately, magnesium is not routinely checked and the early signs are not specific enough.
Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Fatigue and getting tired easily with activity
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Kidney stones
- Tremors and muscle spasms
- Palpitations and hypertension
- Brain fog
There are many more signs of a magnesium deficiency. I discuss the benefits of magnesium more comprehensively in this post post.
So as you can see magnesium has many health benefits, but the focus of this post is magnesium benefits in hormonal balance.
Let’s take a look at why magnesium is important for hormonal balance.
Why Magnesium is important for hormonal balance
As you can see magnesium is very important for so many functions including hormonal balance. We know that hormones are these messages that are sent in the bloodstream from one adrenal organ and affect the functions of another organ or process in the body. As such hormones have vast effects throughout the body. And, many hormonal functions also require magnesium.
Let’s look at the specific ways magnesium benefits hormonal balance.
Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity.
Magnesium turns insulin production on and off in the beta cells of the pancreas and also affects cells’ sensitivity to insulin. Magnesium makes the insulin receptor more sensitive to insulin.
This of course then helps to keep blood sugar in balance and improves insulin resistance in hormonal-driven conditions such as PCOS. Plus, the bonus point for great blood sugar control- you also lose weight.
Magnesium’s role in blood sugar control and improving insulin resistance has been a major scientific focus. Indeed, a 2017 systemic review found that supplementing with magnesium, for subjects who had hypomagnesia also improved insulin resistance.
So if you are diabetic you may benefit from supplementing with magnesium plus making sure your diet includes good sources of magnesium.
Magnesium regulates cortisol levels
According to a 2012 study in Pharmacology, magnesium deficiency has been shown to affect the functioning of the HPA, one of the main stress response systems. This is the hypothalamus-pituitary- aldosterone system.
When the HPA is activated, the corticotropin-releasing hormone is made, and this, in turn, leads to the release of ACTH, a hormone that leads to the release of cortisol into the bloodstream.
This causes anxiety and elevated stress due to the effects on the nervous and hormonal systems affected by excess cortisol. But when there is enough magnesium, it relaxes the nervous system so less cortisol is produced and you feel mellow.
Magnesium improves thyroid hormone function
This is a bold statement: But the thyroid cannot function without magnesium. In the article Thyroid Function and Magnesium, John A Robinson, NMD, extensively discusses the role of magnesium in thyroid function.
In most cases when you think of the nutrients we need for thyroid function we think of selenium, iron, and iodine. But magnesium is key in changing T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone.
Dr. Roninson further explains that magnesium also helps us to make T4, and explains that without magnesium many of the enzymes that assist in thyroid hormone production cannot function.
Also, keep in mind that magnesium is an anti-inflammatory mineral. And that means it also calms the inflammation that is usually the cause of thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s.
Magnesium improves PMs
A 2007 peer-reviewed study found that magnesium supplementation improved signs of PMS. It is thought that magnesium improves PMS by calming the nervous system and by the actions of various hormones such as progesterone on the nervous system.
Magnesium relieves period pain
Research also found that magnesium improves period pain or dysmenorrhea. This is because of the inhibition of prostaglandin F 2 alpha or the pain-causing molecules and the relaxation of the smooth muscles of the uterus decreasing period pain. If you have painful periods, you may need to increase foods high in magnesium or supplement.
Magnesium is critical in the making of hormones
Magnesium is needed for the production of hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Magnesium is essential for thyroid production.
Magnesium relieves Perimenopause/menopause symptoms
A study conducted in perimenopausal women being treated for cancer found that magnesium reduced hot flush symptoms by more than 50 percent.
Magnesium is important for energy production
Magnesium plays a major role in the production of the energy molecule ATP in the glycolysis process. Magnesium’s role in this process is so important that glycolysis cannot happen without magnesium.
But how does this impact hormone balance? Well, the glads where these hormones are produced require energy.
Production of DHEA and human growth hormone which are produced at night. And since magnesium assists in sleep, then that helps optimize the production of these hormones.
Magnesium enhances vitamin D function
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in the body especially because it is actually a prehormone, or a precursor to hormones and has many roles in bodily functions.
Magnesium activates vitamin D function meaning without optimal magnesium vitamin D wouldn’t do its job. But the relationship between vitamin D and magnesium is rather delicate.
And too much vitamin D can also lead to magnesium deficiency. Also, too much vitamin D is toxic because unlike other vitamins that just pass in urine when in excess, vitamin D is stored in fat cells.
Furthermore, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption from the gut and this also affects parathyroid hormone balance. But if magnesium is deficient, then vitamin D will not work well which affects calcium balance and the actions of the parathyroid hormone.
That means less calcium is absorbed. The parathyroid hormone is then activated and steals calcium stored in bones leading to osteoporosis.
Magnesium assists in detoxifying the liver and removing excess estrogen.
If you don’t have enough magnesium, you may end up having estrogen dominance. When estrogen is not effectively removed, it is recycled in the body over and over leading to estrogen dominance.
Also read: Many People are deficient in magnesium, are you?
How to replenish your magnesium levels
It is best to replenish your magnesium levels by eating foods rich in magnesium and hormonal balance
Related: Signs of hormonal balance
Best foods to boost magnesium levels
- Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews are rich sources of magnesium
- Seeds: These include seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds sunflowers seeds and pumpkin seeds all provide magnesium.
- Leafy greens like collard, swiss chard, spinach
- Grains like whole grain rice, buckwheat
- Seaweed and kelp
- Dark chocolate
- Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, and cauliflower
Sometimes you may still not get enough magnesium from your diet. In this case, supplementing is highly recommended.
But now the question is, which is the best magnesium supplement?
These are are the types of magnesium to consider when you are shopping for magnesium
This is the best form of magnesium and one that is easily absorbed even in cases of gut issues such as IBS and other chronic gut and inflammatory conditions. I highly recommend Dr’s Best Chelated Magnesium Glycinate.
Get Dr’s Best Chelated Magnesium Glycinate on Amazon
This is the next best option. But beware, magnesium citrate has a laxative effect. It is perfect if you suffer from constipation, however.
One of the best and one I recommend is NaturaLife Labs Magnesium Citrate. It comes in 400mg tablets ad is great for relieving stress and anxiety. Get Magnesium Citrate on Amazon.
This is the least expensive but also the least well-absorbed form of magnesium. You are likely to find this in your grocery store easily. Magnesium oxide may also cause loose stool.
If you choose magnesium oxide, Pure Gens Magnesium Oxide is the one I recommend. You can get it here on Amazon.
To bypass the gut, try topical magnesium which you can use in oil form sometimes in spray oil. This will faster absorption for immediate effect especially if you are feeling anxious. I love Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil Spray.
For anyone who can’t stand the feel oil on the skin, using magnesium bath flakes is a great choice. If you want to try magnesium flakes, Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes are the best.
Another choice is using magnesium salts like Epsom salts. I love Epsom salts in my bath especially lavender Epsom salts because with the added lavender they seem to relax my body and mind.
Epsom salts are easy to find in the grocery store but you can also buy them here on Amazon.
So, there you have it. Magnesium is so very important for hormonal balance. And since hormones do so much in the body, you need the nutrients such as magnesium to improve hormonal balance.
Hormonal imbalance may be showing up in chronic problems like anxiety and depression, insomnia, period pain, migraines, headaches, and more. Adding a magnesium supplement or ensuring a magnesium-rich diet can help.
And now, over to you!
Have you tried magnesium as a way to balance your hormones or help you with any health problems? I would love to hear from you. And as always if you enjoyed this article, please share.