Have you ever noticed how many vitamins and supplements there are that are offered for just men or just women? Even a quick walk down the vitamin aisle will show you an assortment of pink-colored marketing tactics alongside neutral-toned designs and muted colors. And there is much more to it than just different colored packaging.
Because of the anatomical differences that exist between the sexes, various medications and supplements must be taken in different amounts, formulas, and more. For example, in regard to our magnesium levels, women have to pay a bit more attention in monitoring them (1). The reason for this is that there are certain substances and experiences that only women go through.
The majority of the variations are related to reproduction, whether it is period, pregnancy, or menopause.
One of the most well-known disorders in women is premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.
It is estimated that somewhere between 80-90% of women going through the reproductive age experience PMS. Of this affected group, about 3-8% of them experience severe symptoms.
Research hasn’t established the exact causes of PMS and other related conditions; however, it has been proposed that Mg deficiency may be one. Comparatively, women with PMS have lower levels of magnesium in their red blood cells and white blood cells than women without PMS. In addition, Mg deficiency might be an aggravation factor of PMS symptoms.
So, it comes as no surprise that magnesium and magnesium taken with vitamins like B6 have been shown to relieve PMS symptoms (2).
In addition, some scholars specifically credit the support that people feel from taking magnesium to the relaxing effects that it has on the body’s neuromuscular system. Some studies have shown that Mg lessens the severity of pain, depression, anxiety, water retention, and craving symptoms (2). If taken daily, magnesium can relax the smooth muscle of the uterus and lower the levels of prostaglandins in the body. This reduces the pain and discomfort that women feel from menstrual cramps (3).
Another common way in which women lose a lot of Mg from their bodies is through hormone-based birth control and hormone replacement therapies. Here in the States, it was reported in a 2010 study that among women who use contraception, over 34% of them use a form that is based on hormones.
For women who are going through menopause, many of them opt to go through hormone replacement therapy and take calcium supplements in order to manage their symptoms. This combination has a negative effect on their magnesium utilization because it significantly decreases the amount of magnesium available for use (1). Also, older women are likely to have weaker bones and a higher risk of bone fractures, as a result of weakened bone quality. But, magnesium has been shown to help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis (4).
As such, it appears that magnesium plays an important part in preventing and alleviating various conditions that affect women’s health. It causes the nervous system to relax and slows down the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a key player in our stress response system. By doing this, magnesium can reduce a person’s anxiety levels, cortisol levels, and increase a person's ability to deal with stress. Plus, magnesium stimulates the healthy elimination of estrogen from the body (3).
It is also important to note that there are antibiotics known to significantly reduce magnesium levels in women. Two of the biggest contenders are fluoroquinolones and sulfonamides. You’d be hard pressed to find a woman, especially over the age of 30, who has not vaguely heard of these words before. They are the most commonly prescribed medications for urinary tract infections, and they are known to drain your magnesium levels. By the age of 32, more than 50% of women have had at least one UTI in their lives (1).
Because people who have low magnesium levels don’t present symptoms, it can be difficult to know that you aren’t receiving enough of the mineral. And unfortunately, low magnesium intake can eventually turn into magnesium deficiency. This can show up as muscle cramps, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weakness (4).
Because of the affordability and availability of magnesium, magnesium supplementation would be a worthy alternative to consider in dealing with women’s health. It can take at least two months for people to start seeing the therapeutic effects, and it’s easy to incorporate supplementation into your daily routine (2). Magnesium could be an important way to better manage your health.
1. (2014). Female Guide to Magnesium – Part 1. Retrieved from https://www.ancient-minerals.com/female-guide-to-magnesium-part-1/
2. Fathizadeh, N., Ebrahimi, E., Valiani, M., Tavakoli, N., & Yar, M. H. (2010). Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research, 15(Suppl 1), 401-405. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3208934/
3. National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Customers. Retrieved from https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/magnesium-and-the-menstrual-cycle
4. Briden, L. (2018). Magnesium and the menstrual cycle. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/