Magnesium Could be the Solution
Studies show that magnesium benefits symptoms of anxiety, irritability, insomnia and water retention ― all common symptoms of menopause. In addition, magnesium increases levels of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important to improving sleep and memory, as well as depression.
Over the past half century, magnesium intake has plummeted, thanks to mineral depletion in soil and water, resulting in mineral-poor diets. Consequently, around 75% of people in developed countries are now magnesium-deficient.
Most of us are unaware that our bodies rely on magnesium to perform more than 600 metabolic functions. However, we may become very aware of the effects of magnesium depletion.
Lack of magnesium can make itself felt in a number of ways ― stress, anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability and insomnia, to name a few.
Depending on your magnesium levels over time, you may have previously escaped these problems or experienced them only irregularly. But with the advent of perimenopause and menopause, some or all of these symptoms commonly appear or worsen for many women. Some may be severe.
One can’t say that all menopausal symptoms are due solely to magnesium deficiency, but it can certainly be a major contributor.
And it may hold a key to relieving these distressing symptoms.
Why Magnesium Levels Fall with Menopause
Beginning with perimenopause, your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone hormones fluctuate widely.
During your child-bearing years, when you need more minerals, oestrogen promotes magnesium absorption to accommodate pregnancy. However, as oestrogen levels begin to fall with perimenopause, your ability to absorb magnesium diminishes.
The result is hypomagnesemia (magnesium deficiency), which, if not addressed, will continue to worsen with age.
How Magnesium Helps Manage Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety rank high among complaints of menopausal women. The reason? As oestrogen levels drop, you also lose the ability to effectively regulate cortisol levels.
Cortisol is commonly known as “The Stress Hormone,” and in some instances it serves a useful purpose. For example, it can help you respond instinctively to emergencies, summon courage when threatened and weather daunting challenges.
However, too much cortisol for too long leads to chronic stress, which isn’t good.
In addition to producing stress, high cortisol impairs normal cell regeneration, production of vital hormones, cognitive function and healthy digestion.
Stress begins with your pituitary gland, which releases ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), and in turn, ACTH stimulates your adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
However, if you have enough magnesium, it can:
· moderate the amount of ACTH released from your pituitary
· lessen your adrenal glands’ response to ACTH, preventing a massive release of cortisol
· block the blood/brain barrier, preventing cortisol from entering your brain
Dr. Carolyn Dean, who authored the bestselling The Magnesium Miracle, explains how, under stress, “your body creates stress hormones causing a cascade of physical effects, all of which consume magnesium.”
It becomes a vicious cycle: Stress robs you of the magnesium you need to prevent stress, which makes stress still worse. If your magnesium level is low to begin with, it can be difficult to break the cycle.
To make matters worse, during periods of prolonged stress, you further reduce your magnesium store by passing it out with urine!
And Relieve Depression
Under the relentless assault of excessive cortisol and chronic stress, people may abandon healthy mood-regulation strategies. Consequently, the longer you’re stressed, the more likely it becomes that you will find yourself on a downward slide into depression.
There is, however, hope. There’s good reason magnesium is called “the chill pill”, “nature’s relaxant” and the “anti-stress/anxiety mineral”. In one study, researchers found magnesium equally as effective as antidepressants in relieving depression, often within a week.
An interesting article by researchers George and Karen Eby theorizes that stress, together with magnesium deficiency, can cause damage to brain neurons that results in depression. On the bright side, they observe that “Magnesium was found usually effective for treatment of depression in general use.”
Studies also show that magnesium therapy benefits anxiety, irritability, insomnia and water retention ― all common symptoms of menopause.
In addition, magnesium increases levels of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important to improving sleep and memory, as well as depression.
Is Magnesium Right for You?
The magnesium in today’s refined flour is only 16% of what used to be contained in whole wheat flour.
The soil in which we grow food is depleted of minerals, and flouride has banished magnesium from our drinking water in many localities.
A hundred years ago, when magnesium was plentiful, depression occurred in only about 1% of the population. In the US, it’s now around 6.9% for adults. And as of 2014, 19.7% of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Many women find upping their magnesium intake is a simple, natural way to ease menopausal symptoms, relax and get a good night’s sleep.
And because magnesium deficiency is so common and so important to many bodily functions, it may be wise to consider increasing your magnesium prior to menopause. (It can even prevent a sudden heart attack!)
There are tests to measure magnesium levels, but the serum (blood) test often fails to detect deficiencies. Some physicians recommend the red blood cell (RBC) essential mineral test as being more accurate.
You can bolster magnesium levels by including high-magnesium foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate in your diet.
However, since magnesium in food is limited, you may also want to consider topping up by suing a high-quality magnesium supplement.
Alban, D. 8 Ways Magnesium Relieves Anxiety and Stress. Be Brain Fit.
Curb, J.D. Endocrine Function and Magnesium Menopause and Premenstrual Syndrome. National Health Federation.
Deans, E. Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill, June 12, 2011.
Eby, G.&K. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. George Eby Research, Medical Hypotheses, Jan. 2006.
Magnolia. Food and Medicine: Magnesium for Anxiety & Panic Attacks in Perimenopause. The Perimenopause Blog, Jan. 27, 2017.
Pick, M. The Destructive Effects of High Cortisol Levels. Women to Women.