Magnesium is involved in over 350 different enzyme processes in the human body and is of vital importance to our complex hormone balance. Because women’s hormone system is particularly sensitive, and because magnesium deficiency is so common, all women should make sure to get enough of this essential mineral, especially if they suffer from stress, sleep problems, a sensitive blood sugar balance, PMS, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), metabolic disorders, or adrenal fatigue. Always make sure to balance your intake of magnesium and calcium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral. Most of our magnesium is found inside our cells, where it is involved in numerous enzyme processes, on which our hormone balance depends. In fact, without magnesium we would not be able to produce those hormones that are necessary for regulating our metabolism, blood sugar balance, and sex hormones. Because there is an intricate interplay between the different hormones, one type of hormone imbalance may affect another and that can easily turn into a vicious cycle. Therefore, it is vital to get plenty of magnesium as a primary step towards a well-adjusted hormone balance in the body.
1) Stress and cortisol levels
Many people with hormone imbalances stressed to some extent and tend to forget that stress itself is a physiological condition that consumes an abundance of micronutrients. Acute stress mobilizes the adrenal glands’ production of adrenalin and other hormones that help us perform optimally. In the case of prolonged stress, however, large quantities of the corticosteroid, cortisol, are produced, and that may eventually harm the production of other steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone plus the two pituitary hormones, FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) that are important for a regular and normal menstrual cycle.
Humans consume a lot more magnesium in periods of stress, and having adequate magnesium stores in the body helps to prevent an overproduction of cortisol. Researchers from the University of Leeds in Great Britain have reviewed a number of studies showing that supplements of magnesium may be useful as add-on therapy for stress, mild anxiety, and depression.
High levels of cortisol may harm
2) Magnesium and sex hormones
Magnesium is involved in the production of sex hormones and is important for the estrogen and progesterone balance. If you suffer from PMS and menopausal discomfort, magnesium supplements are highly useful. The same is the case if you have side effects from using birth control pills, which are known to deplete the body’s magnesium stores.
3) Magnesium, blood sugar control, and PCOS
Carbohydrates from our food are broken down into glucose (blood sugar). When our blood sugar rises, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps sugar enter the cells. Chromium works together with insulin to increase the amount of glucose that enters the cells. Several studies show that magnesium is also involved. The mineral has a key function by preventing insulin dysfunctions and type 2 diabetes. Magnesium is involved in the activation of an enzyme (tyrosine kinase) with a built-in on-off switch, which is used by the insulin receptors of the cells.
If you experience periods with a huge desire for sweets or stimulants, it is often because of unstable blood sugar levels. When the cells fail to get the energy they need, problems such as fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and numerous other symptoms may occur.
Many women even have a sweet tooth when they have PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is one of the most common causes of infertility, and the disease is most likely caused by poor sugar metabolism and elevated insulin levels. It is essential to have adequately high magnesium levels to help control your blood sugar. Also, make sure to get plenty of protein with your main meals.
Magnesium deficiency may reinforce insulin resistance
Insulin works by helping blood sugar (glucose) into the cells. People with insulin resistance have impaired cellular glucose uptake. At the same time, they have increased magnesium excretion in their urine. This increases the magnesium deficiency and may have widespread consequences for the different hormonal and metabolic processes that depend on magnesium.
4) Magnesium, digestion and healthy sleep
Many people have an irritable bowel because of stress. When we are stressed, there is often tension in the intestinal sphincters, and that may cause irritable bowel and constipation.
Magnesium is also vital for the nervous system, and the mineral helps reduce the tension. This may improve your digestion. Magnesium also helps against muscle tension and other types of tension, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you suffer from poor sleep, taking magnesium in the evening may be a good idea.
5) Magnesium, the metabolism, and inflammation
It is widely accepted that the two thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, need iodine and selenium in order to function optimally. However, they also need magnesium. A study that is mentioned in ScienceDirect shows that magnesium is particularly important for the thyroid function in the early stages of pregnancy.
Hashimoto’s disease that slows down the metabolism, and Graves’ disease that speeds it up, are both characterized by inflammation. Here, magnesium has an anti-inflammatory effect. The same is the case with selenium.
Magnesium should be carefully balanced with calcium
As mentioned earlier, magnesium is involved in a multitude of enzyme processes inside the cells. Magnesium also functions as a doorman in the cellular membrane. Here, the mineral makes sure that the exact right amount of calcium enters the bone cells. At the same time, magnesium makes sure that the concentration of magnesium in soft tissues (nerve tissue, connective tissue, and vital organs) is very low.
If we lack magnesium, this function is not handled correctly. This may cause a deficiency of calcium in our bone cells with an increased risk of osteoporosis, and too much calcium in our soft tissues. When cells in soft tissues contain too much calcium, they become stressed, and local inflammation, tension, cramps, and other serious complications may occur.
It is therefore essential to have the right balance between calcium and magnesium in the body. Too much calcium from dairy products and supplements combined with too little dietary magnesium can easily cause an imbalance.
Did you know that
Where do we get magnesium and why is magnesium deficiency so common?
Magnesium is mainly found in kernels, almonds, nuts, whole-grain, cabbage, and other compact vegetables. An estimated 80 percent of the American population is magnesium-deficient, and magnesium deficiency is also a common problem in Denmark.
It is often the result of eating a poorly balanced diet with too many refined foods. Stress and insulin resistance also deplete the body’s magnesium levels. The same is the case with too much alcohol and other stimulants, birth control pills, and diuretics.
How do I get enough magnesium?
The daily reference intake level (RI) is 375 mg. However, many researchers argue that it should be 500 mg or more (which is what people got before the industrialization).
The best way to get enough magnesium is by eating a balanced diet with healthy foods. If you are stressed and have hormone problems, however, it may be a good idea to take a high-quality magnesium supplement, which the body can easily absorb and utilize.
Neil Bernard Boyle, Clare Lawton and Louise Dye. The Effects of magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress – A systematic Review. Nutrients 2017
Pernille Lund: Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker. Ny Videnskab 2013
Pernille Lund. Sund og smuk hele livet. Ny Videnskab 2016
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