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Menopause And Magnesium - What’s The Connection?

Perimenopause is a hormonal transformation in the lives of middle-aged women. Unfortunately, an opening of the floodgates of bothersome symptoms can occur with perimenopause. Not every woman will have a rough time with perimenopause. In my practice as a hormone specialist working with hundreds of women in the menopausal transition, I have observed that many women are taken off guard by insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, mood swings, headaches, low libido, and more.

Is perimenopause something to just endure? Many women are under the impression that the menopausal transition is simply a part of aging and, therefore, can't be helped. A staggering 80% of medical residents interviewed by the AARP admitted to not feeling competent to treat menopause. It's no wonder why women do not feel adequately supported in perimenopause.

While the menopausal transition is normal, there are many supports to ease the rollercoaster that is perimenopause. Targeted nutritional therapies use nutraceuticals or food-derived medicines to relieve symptoms. Nutraceuticals excel in their safety profile and tolerability, making them an excellent choice for many individuals.

Magnesium: A Therapeutic Powerhouse

The mineral magnesium is the 9th most abundant element in the world. Impressively, magnesium is involved in over 300 essential chemical reactions in the body.

Nerves need magnesium to transmit signals. Muscles rely on magnesium to contract. Healthy bone structure needs magnesium. In fact, 50-60% of total magnesium in the body resides in the bones.

What does magnesium do for perimenopausal women to improve wellness and reduce bothersome symptoms of hormonal fluctuations? The answer will impress you, as magnesium can support relief from various symptoms of perimenopause. In my clinical practice assisting women through this hormonal shift, this tiny mineral continues to be a mainstay in the treatment of my patients.

Count Sheep with Magnesium

Tossing and turning in the night a common problem in perimenopause. Poor quality sleep can result from night sweats, a frustrating symptom that can cause you to wake up. Some women will report actually saturating their pajamas and sheets, requiring getting up to change.

Poor sleep can also be due to hormone-related neurotransmitter changes in the brain. Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries, and as ovarian function declines with the menopausal transition, naturally, less progesterone is produced by the ovaries.

Progesterone encourages the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which has a calming and sedating effect on the brain. With less progesterone around in perimenopause, the sleep-inducing effects of GABA decline.

How does magnesium help perimenopausal insomnia? Magnesium promotes GABA activity, recreating the same effect of progesterone on the brain.

Additionally, magnesium dilates blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and core body temperature. The lowering of core body temperature induces sleepiness.

Soothe Hormonal Migraines with Magnesium

Dealing with painful headaches that make you sensitive to light or even nauseous? These are the signature features of migraine headaches. Women with a history of cyclic migraines provoked by their period tend to be sensitive to hormonal fluctuations of estrogen. These same women are prone to a worsening of headaches during perimenopause due to drops in estrogen.

What do sex hormones have to do with headaches? Naturally, there are many triggers for headaches and hormones are just one potential contributor.

Estrogen plays a role in the dilation of blood vessels in the brain and the activity of neurons in the brain. Fluctuations in estrogen levels during perimenopause can affect blood flow and neural excitability in the brain, triggering a migraine attack.

Magnesium calms down neuronal excitability and relaxes blood vessels, counteracting the headache-inducing effects of changing estrogen levels. In fact, a large study of nearly 4000 people showed a diet low in magnesium was correlated with migraine attacks!

Magnesium for Perimenopausal Mood Swings

The impact of perimenopause on mood cannot be understated. Women will often report feeling short-tempered, anxious, and depressed. These mood changes are not all in the head, but rather have very real roots within the hormonal changes that occur with the menopausal transition.

As was previously established, progesterone encourages the calming neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Estrogen also has direct effects on another more well-known neurotransmitter called serotonin.

Serotonin is frequently referred to as the "happy chemical". Serotonin encourages feelings of well-being, optimism, satisfaction, and happiness. Since estrogen agonizes and encourages the activity of serotonin, these warm fuzzy feelings can feel in short supply during the menopausal transition.

Magnesium has been demonstrated to enhance the activity of serotonin. In fact, magnesium is required for the creation of serotonin from it's amino acid precursor called tryptophan. In other words, magnesium is an essential ingredient for producing serotonin. Magnesium-deficient brains have been researched to be lower in the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Enhance Bone Health With Magnesium

Osteoporosis, otherwise known as a decrease in bone density, causes 8.9 million bone fractures annually. Every three seconds, someone breaks a bone from this condition that affects people middle-aged and beyond. Osteoporosis is four times more common in women than men. Many who experience a hip fracture will be more statistically likely to be unable to live independently after the injury.

Magnesium helps activate vitamin D, a crucial regulator of the gastrointestinal absorption of calcium. Calcium combines with other minerals to form hard crystals which provide the bones with structure and strength.

In research studies, magnesium intake is inversely related with fracture risk. In other words, the more magnesium you get in your diet, the more you reduce your personal risk of bone fracture. The reduction in risk of bone fracture with magnesium intake is related to the bone-strengthening mechanisms of this very important mineral.


Give yourself the gift of optimal wellness during the menopausal transition by nourishing the body with magnesium. Magnesium is safe, well-tolerated, and tackles multiple symptoms of menopause including insomnia, mood swings, and headaches. As a Naturopathic physician who has guided the wellness journeys of many menopausal women, I can attest that you do not want to miss out on this mineral.

Even better, beyond simply resolving symptoms, magnesium also enhances cardiovascular, brain, and bone health.

Dr. Laurel Ash ND, MS

Dr Laurel Ash, ND, MS is an Oregon and Washington board-certified Naturopathic Physician. With a passion for nutritional health, Dr Ash earned her doctorate in Naturopathy from the National University of Natural Medicine while receiving her masters in Integrative Mental Health. Her unique combination of evidence-based research and skilled knowledge in holistic medicine has allowed Dr. Ash to successfully treat many with a wide-range of issues.