Why Magnesium is Critical with PMS
Getting enough magnesium in your diet is crucial for dealing with severe PMS symptoms.
Many of us were taught to deal with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) in external ways: by taking medicine specifically targeted towards women or by using a heating pad to soothe cramps.
But what many of us missed is that it’s what inside that matters the most when it comes to dealing with PMS. There are specific nutrients–like magnesium–that are crucial to managing the effects of PMS. Here’s more on why magnesium is so important if you’re dealing with PMS and some easy ways you can add more magnesium to your diet.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium, as explained by the National Institute of Health, is a mineral that’s found naturally in our body and in many types of food. It serves an important role in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body that regulate different actions, such as making protein, controlling muscle and nerve function, impacting blood sugar control and blood pressure.
Magnesium also plays a key role in energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis, bone production and making the antioxidant glutathione. And last, but certainly not least, it also plays a part in transporting calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes–this particular role of magnesium is especially important as it’s been found that having the right amount of calcium in the body helps manage PMS symptoms.
Why Magnesium Matters with PMS
Because PMS can have a wide variety of symptoms and affects everyone differently, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for the condition.
However, it’s thought that shifting hormone levels, as well as changing levels of key nutrients in the body–including magnesium, Vitamin B6, calcium, and omega 3s and 6s–all play a role. Some doctors also believe that an interference with serotonin (the chemical responsible for good mood), also plays a part.
Magnesium, in particular, has been found to help with specific PMS symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Sugar cravings
- Headaches (especially migraines)
- Interrupted sleep
Magnesium is so powerful against PMS because it acts on serotonin reuptake inhibitors naturally to improve mood, it acts as a smooth muscle relaxer to help ease uterine cramping, and because it blocks prostaglandins that can cause pain associated with the menstrual cycle. It also helps promote healthy levels of estrogen in the body, which can help keep your hormones more balanced and avoid exaggerated PMS symptoms caused from wide-ranging hormone levels.
5 Easy Ways to Eat More Magnesium
Because magnesium is primarily stored in the bones, it can be difficult for doctors to assess if you’re deficient. That’s why eating magnesium-rich foods regularly can be the best way to ensure your levels are where they need to be.
The amount of magnesium you should get depends on your age. For females, the recommended daily amount is:
- 14-18 years old: 360 mg daily (increase to 400 if you’re pregnant)
- 19-30 years old: 310 mg (increase to 350 if you’re pregnant)
- 31-50 years old: 320 mg (increase to 360 if you’re pregnant)
- 51+ years: 320 mg
The best way to get more magnesium is to eat it through magnesium-rich foods. Foods that contain a lot of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You can also buy foods that have been enriched with magnesium, but the best source is foods closest to nature.
Here are the top foods with the highest amounts of magnesium:
1. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain some of the highest amount of magnesium of any food, with 156 milligrams per 1 ounce. That’s 37% of your daily magnesium needs! Plus, pumpkin seeds are full of fiber as well as other-good-for-you nutrients and antioxidants (like carotenoids and vitamin E), iron, tryptophan, and zinc.
2. Chia seeds
Coming in next after pumpkin seeds are chia seeds. Not just for growing hair on your Chia pet, chia seeds pack an impressive amount of magnesium into a tiny seed package: 111 milligrams per 1 ounce, for 26% of your daily needs.
1 ounce of dry-roasted almonds will give you 80 milligrams of magnesium, plus plenty of fiber and protein to fill you up if you're in need of s quick snack. Or, try some almond butter on some whole-grain toast sprinkled with a seed mix for a magnesium-rich superfood.
Only ½ cup of spinach (and really, who can eat only ½ cup of spinach?) garners 78 milligrams of magnesium. Boil it, scarf it down in a salad, or mix it up in a smoothie, complete with some seeds for extra flavor and nutrients.
Cashews offer 74 milligrams of magnesium, while still being a delicious snack. You’ll only need 1 ounce to get the benefits, plus they’re full of protein and heart-healthy fats.
Jones RK, Beyond Birth Control: The
Overlooked Benefits of Oral Contraceptive Pills, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2011
Parazzini F, Di Martino M, Pellegrino P. Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnes Res. 2017;30(1):1-7. doi:10.1684/mrh.2017.0419
Douglas CC, Gower BA, Darnell BE, Ovalle F, Oster RA, Azziz R. Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril. 2006;85(3):679-688. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2005.08.045