Magnesium for Premenstrual Syndrome

According to a handful of studies, boosting your intake of this important mineral may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, fluid retention and breast tenderness. Research also suggests that magnesium supplements may prevent migraine headaches (the migraine studies were not specifically conducted on women with PMS).

Your body contains about 24 grams of this mineral—half in your bones and half in your tissues. Magnesium is found in all body cells and fluids, where it is needed to maintain fluid balance by pumping sodium and potassium in and out of cells. It’s also used by more than 300 enzymes, including those that produce energy. A handful of studies have found lower blood levels of magnesium in women with PMS.

Studies have determined a daily dose of 200 to 360 milligrams of supplemental magnesium to be effective in easing PMS symptoms.11 The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium can be found on the RDA table on page 21 in chapter 1.

Research suggests that women may be consuming too little magnesium. One survey of27,000 Americans revealed that only 25 percent got enough of the mineral each day.12 The best sources of magnesium are whole foods including unrefined grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruit and green vegetables.

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Magnesium Supplements

By looking at the list on page 21 in chapter 1, you may realize that it can be challenging to eat a magnesium-rich diet. In addition to including these foods in your daily diet, consider taking a magnesium supplement to help you combat PMS symptoms—in particular, fluid retention, mood swings and menstrual migraines (read chapter 7, “Migraines,” for more about this). Here’s how to supplement safely:

• If you take calcium supplements, buy one with magnesium added. You can choose either a 1:1 ratio supplement, meaning the supplement contains an equal amount of calcium and magnesium, or a 2:1 ratio, in which there is twice as much calcium as magnesium. For instance, a 2:1 calcium citrate supplement will generally give you 300 milligrams of calcium and 150 milligrams of magnesium. Depending on your diet, you might need to take one of these supplements two or three times a day.

• If you don’t need supplemental calcium, but you want to try taking magnesium for your PMS, buy a supplement made from magnesium citrate, aspartate, succinate or fumarate. The body absorbs these forms of the mineral more efficiently.

• The daily upper safe limit for magnesium is 350 milligrams per day from a supplement—more than this can cause diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps.

• Be sure you are meeting your daily requirements for calcium (read the section on page 318) since magnesium supplements may reduce calcium absorption.

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