This article was medically fact-checked by Women’s health expert and Gynaecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck.
Your period is a direct reflection of your overall health. So much so that menstruation is even considered by some health care providers to be a vital sign. Much like your blood pressure or pulse.
One common cause behind cramps and other uncomfortable periods is having a mineral deficiency, specifically magnesium.
Magnesium in The Body
This mighty mineral is mostly stored in the bones, muscles, and soft tissues, while trace amounts can be found in the bloodstream.
Being essential to your health, magnesium is crucial in more than three hundred bodily processes. A true team player, it helps with cardiac function, cellular energy production, bone metabolism, and much more. Magnesium is so powerful, it even helps to stabilize DNA.
Despite it is vital to a functioning body, an estimated sixty percent of adults are deficient in it.
That’s a staggering statistic, and for female-bodied people, magnesium deficiency may be having a huge impact on your period.
Magnesium and Menstruation
Magnesium is a star player when it comes to menstrual hormone function, so it only makes sense that balancing levels of it in the body would have a positive effect on any pesky period problems you may have.
Levels of estrogen and progesterone are highest just before your period. Magnesium has a significant impact on these hormones.
Wondering if a magnesium deficiency may be exacerbating your PMS and period symptoms?
Are you someone who blows up like a balloon during your time of the month? Magnesium has shown to decrease PMS induced bloating.
Your mental health is also dependent on magnesium. Supplementing it can help alleviate PMS mood changes. Thanks to its incredibly calming properties, magnesium helps decrease overall stress and give you a quality nights sleep. Catching enough zzz’s can make a huge difference when it comes to hormone regulation and mood.
Do you find your head pounding during your cycle? Magnesium can ease period migraines and annoying headaches.
The magic of magnesium doesn’t stop there, how about crippling cramps? The uterus is a powerful muscle that can carry and push out babies.
Unfortunately, when that muscle overworks during your period, it results in painful cramps. Magnesium helps sooth and tone the smooth muscles of the uterus, easing cramps over time. By decreasing levels of prostaglandins, magnesium may lessen cramps.
Increase Your Magnesium Levels
Now that you know the many wonderful benefits magnesium can offer menstruating people, you ought to know how to increase your levels.
Magnesium is found naturally in all sorts of food sources. Chow down and power up, by munching on these nutrient-rich goodies.
- Nuts and Seeds: Stock up on pumpkin and flax seeds, cashews, and almonds.
- Dark Chocolate: There’s a reason behind the cravings! Dark chocolate is packed full of magnesium and other minerals like copper and iron.
- Avocados: Slather it on toast, throw it on a salad, or gobble it down by itself, this creamy superfood can help balance your mineral levels!
- Leafy Greens: These abundant superfoods can be found in grocery stores, in the wild, and from your lawn. Try kale and spinach, as well as dandelion greens, nettle, and mustard greens.
For more extreme deficiencies or symptoms, you can try a magnesium glycinate supplement, which is usually an easy form to digest.
As if you needed an excuse to take a bath, magnesium is absorbed through the skin. This means by dumping Epsom salts into your bath, you’re doing your whole body and mind a favor.
It can take a couple of months for magnesium deficiencies to balance out, so for the best results, you should be diligent about taking it regularly.
It is especially helpful after ovulation, in the two weeks before your period.
Watch Out For These
Besides adding food and supplements into your diet, there are certain habits that negatively affect magnesium levels in the body.
- Stress: As an evolutionary adaptation, the body gets rid of magnesium when it’s under stress. Decreasing your stress levels through meditation, mindfulness, and however else you elevate your mood will help to balance magnesium levels.
- Caffeine: Magnesium is regulated by the kidneys. Given that most caffeinated drinks are diuretics, aka they make you pee, your coffee habit may be forcing an excessive amount of the vital mineral out – and straight into the toilet.
- Sugar: Our multifaceted friend magnesium also helps to balance blood sugar. If your sweet tooth habit is a bit out of control, the magnesium in your body has to work overtime trying to process it.
One last thing, magnesium (especially magnesium citrate) can be a cathartic…. In other words, it can cause loose and frequent stools.
Talk to Your Doctor
While it is incredibly important to the functioning of the body and your periods, magnesium is not a cure-all. If you suspect you may have an underlying condition, or are on other medications, consult your doctor before beginning any extra supplementation.
Facts checked by:
Dr. Alyssa Dweck
Alyssa Dweck MS, MD, FACOG is a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County, New York. She provides care to women of all ages; she has delivered thousands of babies. She is proficient in minimally invasive surgery and has special interest and expertise in female sexual health and medical sex therapy. She is top doctor in New York Magazine and Westchester Magazine. Dr. Dweck has co-authored three books including the most recent release The Complete A to Z For Your V.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.