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Which Magnesium is Best for Menopause

May 21, 2024 • read

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Which Magnesium is Best for Menopause

Did you know magnesium can provide relief from common menopause symptoms? Magnesium plays a vital role in the body’s systems, and many Canadians are not getting enough. Before you run out to pick up magnesium, there are a few things you should know — not all magnesium supplements are created equal, and the same dose isn’t for everyone.

In this article, we’ll discuss magnesium mechanics, the differences between magnesium supplement types, how it can help, and potential interactions and side effects.

The role of magnesium in menopause symptoms

As a natural process in the body, menopause can be downright unruly. Three out of four Canadian women experience symptoms that disrupt their daily lives. It may be surprising to know magnesium supplementation can help manage your symptoms.

Understanding the impact of magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is one of many unsung heroes in the body. It is a helper in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate many biochemical reactions, a building block, and a participant in the transport of calcium and potassium across cell membranes.

Magnesium plays an active role in the following functions:

  • Blood glucose control
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Bone development
  • Cell growth
  • Energy production
  • Mineral metabolism
  • Muscle contraction and relaxation
  • Muscle and nerve function
  • Nerve impulse conduction
  • Normal heart rhythm
  • Synthesis of protein, DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione

Common menopause symptoms alleviated by magnesium

While it may not help with all your symptoms, getting your magnesium levels into the normal range can help alleviate some of the common symptoms associated with menopause:

Hot flashes and night sweats

One of the side effects of menopause-related decreased estrogen is hot flashes and night sweats. Managing your hormones can bring relief for some people. However, decreased estrogen is a natural part of menopause, and increasing it can bring about a new set of uncomfortable side effects. Magnesium can help reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats through its effect on system regulation.

Anxiety and mood swings

Many women going through menopause report anxiety and mood swings as challenging symptoms. Magnesium is involved in several physiological processes that positively impact the mechanisms that contribute to managing anxiety disorders. 

Insomnia and sleep disturbances

Anxiety and hot flashes are major contributors to insomnia and sleep disturbances, but hormone imbalances, like increased cortisol, can also cause sleep disturbances. Magnesium supplements can help mitigate hormone imbalances, leading to a restful sleep. 

Bone health and osteoporosis prevention

The drop in estrogen during and after menopause significantly impacts bone density. Magnesium is a key contributor to bone development, and a diet rich in magnesium supports bone mineral density. 

Types of magnesium supplements for menopause

There are many types of magnesium supplements available on the market today, each with varying levels of bioavailability — the measurement of how a drug is absorbed into the body — and differing mechanisms of action.

Here are a few of the more commonly used magnesium supplements:

Magnesium citrate: High bioavailability

Magnesium citrate is part of the class of medications called saline laxatives. It’s bound with citric acid, which makes it more bioavailable than magnesium oxide, suggesting it may have more benefits than magnesium oxide and hydroxide. It’s commonly used to improve muscle function.

Magnesium glycinate: Best for absorption and relaxation

Like magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, or bisglycinate, is also organically bound for optimum absorption. Magnesium glycinate treats low magnesium in the blood, decreased memory function, mood disorders, and stomach acid issues.

Magnesium oxide: Cost-effective option 

Magnesium oxide is considered a cost-effective option. However, it’s less readily absorbed than other forms, making it less effective at raising magnesium levels.  It is primarily used for short-term use as an antacid or laxative and not for increasing magnesium levels. 

Magnesium hydroxide: A gentle laxative

Magnesium hydroxide is also a saline laxative. It helps with intermittent constipation by retaining water in the intestines, making the stool bigger, softer, and easier to pass.  

Recommended dosage of magnesium for women in menopause

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for women 30 years and over is 320 mg. The tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for supplemental magnesium is 350 mg for adults. The RDA is a guide that includes magnesium intake from all sources, including diet, medication, supplements, and drinks. The ULs are only for supplemental sources.

Magnesium regulation in the body is primarily controlled by the kidneys. When functioning properly, the kidneys will excrete excess magnesium. Kidney injury or impairment can lead to magnesium retention and toxicity. 

Combining magnesium with other supplements for enhanced benefits

Vitamin D for bone health

On its own, Vitamin D can decrease bone loss by helping our bodies absorb calcium. Magnesium assists in Vitamin D activation. Used together, the two can increase bone density and reduce the chance of bone fractures.

B vitamins for mood support

B vitamins are cofactors for the making of serotonin and dopamine – the neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation, and there is some evidence that B vitamins may have small benefits for stress.  

Considerations for choosing a magnesium supplement

Absorption and bioavailability 

Before you assume the most expensive one is best, investigate. Is this form of magnesium easily absorbed or has a good bioavailability? Think magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium chloride, magnesium gluconate, and magnesium glycinate. Magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonate have low absorption and are not a good choice for increasing magnesium levels. 

Natural Product Number (NPN)

If the product has an NPN or a Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) it meets Health Canada’s standards for safety, quality, and health claims. 

Recommended dietary allowance

Reach for the supplement that provides the RDI and no more. Supplements that provide much more can lead to health complications. For healthy women over 50, the RDI for magnesium is 320mg. 

For anyone with food sensitivities, you will want to pay attention to the added ingredients. Some supplements may contain things like gluten, corn, eggs, and gelatin. When in doubt, ask your healthcare provider or dietitian what they would recommend.  

Potential side effects and interactions

While no risks are associated with dietary magnesium, magnesium supplements may have potential side effects or interactions. Too high of magnesium supplementation can result in diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping. Reaching toxic levels of magnesium increases with higher doses as well as kidney impairment. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting on new supplements.   

Symptoms of magnesium toxicity can include: 

  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
  • Facial flushing
  • Retention of urine
  • Low mood and depression 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hypotension, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and cardiac arrest

Supplement and drug interactions can include:

  • Antibiotics: Tetracyclines and quinolone can form insoluble bonds with magnesium.
  • Bisphosphonates: Magnesium supplements can decrease the absorption of certain osteoporosis medications. 
  • Loop and thiazide diuretics: These diuretics increase the loss of magnesium in urine and lead to magnesium depletion.
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics: These reduce magnesium excretion.
  • Proton pump inhibitor (PPI): Prescription PPIs can cause hypomagnesemia when taken for prolonged periods, typically more than a year.

Keep a list of all medications and supplements you take. Before starting anything new, discuss the potential interactions with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. 

How to incorporate magnesium-rich foods into your diet

Incorporating magnesium-rich food into your diet is easier than you might think. Consider a whole day of meals, which looks a little different for everyone, but in general, you want to get as close to 320 mg as possible. 

One ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds can contain as much as 156 mg, a half cup of boiled spinach contains 78 mg, and a half cup of cooked black beans contains 60 mg. Put that together, and you’ve consumed almost 92% of your RDA. 

Focus on high-fibre foods like beans, omega-rich nuts, and seeds, including chia, almonds, cashews, and peanuts, and dark leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard to maximize your magnesium intake. Most of these foods contain between 40 and 80 mg per serving size. 

Consult with a healthcare provider for individualized recommendations

At this stage, it’s important to remember that each of us is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Talk to a primary care provider like a doctor or nurse practitioner for individualized recommendations and the most up-to-date information. Ensure you disclose any medications or supplements you’re taking and keep a journal of your symptoms so your provider can address your specific concerns.

If you’re one of 6.5 million Canadians who don’t have a primary care provider, Maple provides direct access to doctors and nurse practitioners 24/7, where you can discuss your symptoms over text or video chat. Specialists can be booked directly if you have unique needs, and prescriptions to manage your symptoms can be sent directly to your home or local pharmacy. 

Empowering menopausal women with the right magnesium choice

Menopause affects every woman differently, and magnesium is one of a number of nutrients that may help you manage some of the common symptoms.

Registered dieticians on Maple can help you make the best dietary choices for your unique needs during menopause, including the right magnesium supplements that can help you enjoy your daily activities with fewer or less intense symptoms.

Information presented here is for educational purposes, and not to replace the advice from your medical professional. Virtual care is not meant for medical emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency like chest pain or difficulties breathing, for example, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.


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