PMS. Those three irritating little letters.
Those three letters - standing for Premenstrual Syndrome - can have a variety of meanings: mood swings, cravings, and cramping or abdominal pain. But the few weeks leading up to your period don't always have to look like this.
Throughout your menstrual cycles, you can support your symptoms through vitamin and mineral supplementation, nutrient-dense foods, relaxation techniques and physical activity. Managing the dreaded PMS symptoms is all about purposefully using these tools to assist your hormones and body during your cycle.
Why Magnesium Matters
One mineral stands out as critical for managing PMS symptoms: magnesium!
If you're not familiar with magnesium, let's review its importance in the body:
- Magnesium plays a role in about 370 enzymatic reactions in the body, including regulating protein synthesis, producing ATP energy, limiting inflammatory cytokines, supporting muscle and nerve functions, controlling blood glucose, and managing blood pressure.
- Magnesium is absorbed about 1 hour after ingestion throughout the entire intestinal tract. Selenium, vitamins B6, and vitamin D support absorption of magnesium. On the other hand, phytates, excess saturated fats, phosphorus and calcium hinder magnesium absorption.
- Typically, symptoms of deficiency manifest in neurological or neuromuscular abnormalities. A deficiency in magnesium can present in depression, mood swings, migraines, anxiety, muscle weakness or cramping and brain fog.
Do any of those symptoms sound familiar?
Researchers have found that women who have experienced symptoms of PMS have clinically lower levels of magnesium. While the mechanism of action is not completely understood, studies has proven that magnesium is effective in reducing PMS symptoms. Increasing magnesium levels with supplements and food choices can support the neuromuscular system and promote relaxation throughout the body to eliminate PMS symptoms. Magnesium works to normalize the action of hormones (especially progesterone) on the central nervous system. In turn, this minimizes cramping, migraines, depression, and muscle weakness typically experienced during the premenstrual phase.
How can we get more magnesium in our diet?
Foods like almonds, cashews, avocado, swiss chard, spinach, sunflower seeds, bananas, and broccoli are all rich sources of magnesium. Another source of magnesium that you may or may not be surprised to hear: dark chocolate! Magnesium is the predominant mineral found in the cocoa bean. No wonder we typically crave chocolate during PMS!
Increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods does not pose serious health risks as excess of the mineral that is not utilized in the body is filtered through the kidneys and excreted via urine.
Why do so many women have a magnesium deficiency and experience symptoms of PMS?
In today's world, magnesium deficiency is so prevalent due to the lack of the minerals in our crop's soil. Soil lacking magnesium leads to fruits and vegetables lacking magnesium and that leads to us lacking magnesium.
Certain lifestyle factors also contribute to a deficiency in magnesium. These factors include excessive alcohol, salt, caffeine and soft drink consumption, hyperthyroidism, chronic stress, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal infection, sleep deprivation, and certain medications such as estrogens, antibiotics, antivirals, and proton pump inhibitors.
If you are experiencing symptoms of markedly low magnesium, it is recommended to check in with your healthcare professional and begin supplementing with the mineral as an adjunct to increasing your dietary intake.
Magnesium Rich Recipe
Try this Cocoa-Chip Puddying recipe to boost magnesium intake, calm stress and anxiety, ease migraine pain, and relieve muscle cramping:
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 medium banana
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs, divided
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Optional: 1 cup of spinach for an extra boost of 24 mg magnesium
Add all ingredients (except for ½ tbsp of cacao nibs) to your blender and blend until smooth. Chill mixture for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top pudding with remaining cacao nibs and enjoy.
At Binto, we formulate our supplements to contain magnesium for stress support as well as hormonal balance. Many women are lacking magnesium in their diets – alleviate the discomfort of your PMS symptoms with our Bare Essential vitamin.
Written by Ashleigh Stewart, MSACN