In terms of supplements, magnesium doesn't always get as much attention as the "big" nutrients, like vitamin D, B12, or folate. But while it may fly under the radar, magnesium plays a major role in hormone balancing, and benefits our bodies in many ways, from improving digestion to boosting mood.
Unfortunately, most people in the U.S. don't get enough magnesium from their diets alone. What's more: Many women need a higher magnesium intake than the RDA – particularly if health issues such as autoimmune diseases or lifestyle issues like stress are involved.
This lack of magnesium can be at the root of a number of health issues. Getting enough magnesium helps ensure proper thyroid function, estrogen balance, reduce adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones), and more essential processes in your body. Keep reading to learn more about the why you need magnesium for hormone balancing — and more.
Causes of Magnesium Depletion
First, let's talk about possible reasons you're lacking in magnesium. Often, they're lifestyle-related choices — which is good news, since it means you can alter your habits. They can also be related to chronic health issues.
- Stress: If you constantly feel overwhelmed, your body might be getting rid of "calming" minerals like magnesium. it wants your entire system to be on high alert for the "fight or flight" response. Whether you're dealing with either psychological and physical forms of stress, your body might be depleted from magnesium.
- Caffeinated or carbonated beverages: Studies have shown that caffeine may cause your body to excrete minerals such as magnesium. In terms of carbonated drinks, the phosphoric acid can actually deplete your body of magnesium and block absorption.
- Too much sugar: When you eat sugar, magnesium helps to process it in your body, which wastes vital amounts of the nutrient.
- Gut Issues: Digestive issues, such as IBS, Crohn's, or Colitis, can affect your body's ability to absorb magnesium.
Why Magnesium Is Key for Hormone Balancing
Is there anything magnesium can't do? Here are some of the essential physiological functions in which magnesium plays a crucial role.
- Thyroid Function: Magnesium helps produce TSH, the thyroid stimulating hormone. It also helps convert the less active T4 hormone into the more active T3.
- Estrogen Balance: Insufficient magnesium levels can contribute to estrogen dominance, which can lead to weight gain, fluid retention, and even cancer.
- Cortisol Regulation: Magnesium is a calming mineral, helping to reduce over-reactivity in your Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. It helps prevent the creation of excess cortisol, the stress hormone. This helps levels of your sex hormones — progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, FSH and LH — to stay in balance as well.
- Blood Sugar Balancing: Magnesium has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels. This is not only helpful in healing hormonal issues like PCOS, but it also can help you have fewer cravings for snacks and lose weight.
- Sleep Aid: Magnesium is an excellent mineral for better sleep. Sleep in turns helps your body keep your hormones in balance and repair cellular damage.
- Creation of Hormones: Magnesium helps in the process of creating progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
- Serotonin Production: Magnesium plays a crucial role in converting tryptophan into the important mood-boosting hormone, serotonin. A deficiency of serotonin can lead to reduced brain function and trigger depression.
How to Boost Your Intake of Magnesium
The good news: Magnesium is found in tons of delicious, healthy foods you're probably already eating, including the following:
- Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach)
- Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- Milk, yogurt, and some other milk products
That said, the trouble is that some of us can't absorb enough magnesium through foods alone due to gut health issues. Plus, many foods are lacking in magnesium today because the soil itself in which they are grown has been depleted and drained of nutrients from over-farming.
That's why supplementation may be a good idea. Starting with 200mg in chelated form is a good first step. (BINTO's BARE Essentials vitamin contains 300mg, which will cover your needs too.)