Magnesium for PCOS
Magnesium has many benefits for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In this article, we’ll explain why we often recommend taking magnesium for PCOS, different forms of magnesium, and how to improve your dietary intake of this important mineral.
Why Women with PCOS Need Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that has hundreds of responsibilities in the body. For example, magnesium affects thyroid function, estrogen detoxification, blood sugar levels, stress hormones, and more (1). Let’s review a few specific reasons why our doctors and dietitians may recommend magnesium to individuals with PCOS.
Improves Insulin Resistance
Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have some degree of insulin resistance. This occurs when your cells become resistant to insulin, a hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. When you have insulin resistance, you also have higher insulin and blood sugar levels. This may lead to symptoms like sugar cravings, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, and irregular periods.
Lower magnesium levels in PCOS are associated with worse insulin resistance and higher testosterone levels (2). However, taking magnesium supplements may reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar levels (3).
Women with PCOS are about three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than the general population (4). Read more about PCOS and anxiety. Fortunately, magnesium supplements may reduce mild anxiety and anxiety related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (5).
Promotes Better Sleep
Thanks to its calming attributes, magnesium may also help you achieve better quality sleep. In particular, magnesium glycinate is combined with an amino acid called glycine which works with brain chemicals to promote feelings of calm and a healthy circadian rhythm. Take magnesium one to two hours before bedtime to optimize these benefits.
May Reduce or Prevent Migraines
Many individuals with PCOS also suffer from migraines. Fortunately, there is substantial evidence to support using magnesium supplements in treating and/or preventing migraine attacks (6). If you suffer from migraines, we recommend taking around 400 milligrams of magnesium glycinate per day.
Lowers Androgen Levels
Androgens, like testosterone, are sex hormones present in both men and women but with higher concentrations found in men. High androgens are one of the main root causes of common PCOS symptoms like acne, excessive facial or body hair, or thinning hair on the scalp. Thanks to its ability to balance blood sugar and insulin levels, magnesium supplements may help lower testosterone levels and reduce these unwanted symptoms (7).
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
For most women, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is around 320 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day. Unfortunately, over two-thirds of Americans fail to get enough magnesium from their diet alone. Furthermore, individuals with PCOS are more likely to under consume magnesium-rich foods and have insufficient magnesium levels (3). Researchers believe this may contribute to worsening insulin resistance, inflammation, and other common symptoms seen in PCOS.
Our Root doctors and dietitians always promote a food-first philosophy. To optimize your magnesium status and reap the benefits of this important mineral, it is essential to prioritize magnesium-rich foods into your diet. Here is a list of foods rich in magnesium with tips on how to include them in your meals and snacks:
- Pumpkin Seeds: sprinkle onto a colorful salad, mix into trail mix, blend into homemade pesto sauce
- Chia Seeds: add into overnight oats, chia seed pudding
- Almonds: spread almond butter onto sliced apples, add chopped almonds to your chicken salad, enjoy almond flour crackers with hummus or guac
- Black Beans: make a black bean dip with crunchy raw veggies, add into a southwest egg bake
- Leafy Greens: throw a handful into your morning smoothie, mix into soups or stews, make crispy kale chips
In addition to ramping up your intake of magnesium-rich foods, we may also recommend taking supplemental magnesium to correct any deficiencies and optimize the benefits of this mineral for PCOS. For most people, we recommend taking around 200 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.
Types of Magnesium
There are various forms of magnesium supplements available over-the-counter. Magnesium oxide is the most common form of magnesium seen in drug stores. However, magnesium oxide is not well absorbed and can have a strong laxative effect leading to uncomfortable bloating and diarrhea. In fact, only about 5 percent of magnesium oxide is absorbed and used by the body (8). In general, we recommend magnesium citrate, glycinate, or a magnesium combo for different reasons.
- Magnesium Citrate: gentle laxative effect, helpful for individuals who need the benefits of magnesium and may struggle with constipation or irregular bowel movements.
- Magnesium Glycinate: easy absorption without any digestive effects, promotes calming and restful sleep.
- Magnesium Combo: provides a balance of magnesium citrate, malate, and glycinate to allow for optimal absorption and utilization of three forms of magnesium.
Read more about the different forms of magnesium.
Magnesium for PCOS: Key Takeaways
Magnesium has various benefits for individuals with PCOS like reducing insulin resistance and testosterone levels, lowering anxiety, improving sleep, and preventing migraines. However, individuals with PCOS are more likely to under consume magnesium-rich foods and may require magnesium supplementation. You can find our most recommended forms of magnesium in the Root Shop. We also include magnesium in our PCOS Supplement Bundle for optimal savings and results.
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