Magnesium Matters: A Deep Dive into Menopause with Dr. Karen Pike

Magnesium Foods Composition

There are umpteen benefits of magnesium on one’s health. In a nutshell, it helps maintain our mood, improve our heart health, strengthen our bones, help with sleep – and the list is endless. When transitioning into Menopause, the need for magnesium is even greater. It is one of those power minerals that will help manage most of your menopausal symptoms immensely. The average daily magnesium intake for women is 320 mg. 

So, how does magnesium help in Menopause? How will you know that you are deficient in magnesium? What are the ways to manage magnesium in Menopause? We had a candid discussion with Dr. Karen Pike about the benefits of magnesium on menopausal women. Before we take a sneak peek into what she said, let’s briefly introduce her. 

Dr. Pike has been associated with the medical field for a long time. She said, ” As a doctor, I noticed the lack of awareness about Menopause in most people I encountered. This encouraged me to reach out to women everywhere through my website, Simply Menopause. You can tour the website to learn more about me and my work.”

So, let’s start with our detailed interview with Dr. Pike. We hope it will answer most of your questions. 

Q. How Does Magnesium Help with Menopause?

So, what are the benefits of magnesium for managing Menopause? I have encountered this question from many patients, especially those with magnesium deficiency. Here are a few essential pointers I want to mention in this regard. 

1. It Helps with Sleep 

Lessened sleep is experienced by over 50% of women during Menopause. The reasons for the same are evident. When you are frequently troubled with night sweats and hot flashes, it takes a toll on your mood. A good night’s sleep is challenging when so much is happening physically. The hormone melatonin helps regulates your sleep cycle, which gets impacted when the estrogen levels decrease.

Magnesium plays a significant role in regulating and promoting a good night’s sleep. One of the essential functions of this mineral is to regulate GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid). Sounds like a jargon, right? Well, GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps in relieving anxiety and produces a calming effect. When the GABA levels are in control, you sleep better. 

Magnesium also effectively controls your body’s clock (circadian rhythm), helping regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

2. Improves Your Mood

Mood swings, anxiety, and depression aren’t uncommon in Menopause, with so many hangs happening physically. As mentioned above, magnesium controls the GABA receptors and helps produce a calming effect. 

Magnesium also helps proper brain functioning and aids in keeping the cortisol or stress hormones within normal range. Low estrogen levels increase cortisol levels, which triggers the stress response. Low magnesium levels is associated with depression and stress, as depicted through several studies.

 For instance, I was going through a study conducted on 171 women from Poland in the postmenopause phase. The findings showed that those with high levels of magnesium were less susceptible to depression and stress. 

3. Is Good for the Heart 

As already mentioned, estrogen controls most of your body’s functions, including maintaining your heart health. When their levels decrease, it causes fat to build up in your arteries, making them narrower. This puts postmenopausal women at a greater risk of heart disease. 

Moreover, teamed with this is the unhealthy lifestyle and increased stress levels that may even take a toll on a woman’s heart when she is transitioning into Menopause or has already hit the menopausal phase. The role of magnesium lies in controlling nerve impulses and contractions of the heart muscles. 

When your body receives adequate amounts of magnesium, it helps your heart beat better. Low magnesium levels are associated with several cardiac problems like abnormal heart rhythms, stroke, thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, etc.

4. Strengthens Your Bones

Women nearing Menopause or already into Menopause have weak, porous, and brittle bones and are more susceptible to fractures. Magnesium boosts your bone health. It improves bone mineral density, lowering osteoporosis and bone fracture risk. Your bone mineral density is already compromised in Menopause. 

So, you must take extra care to add magnesium-rich foods to your diet. Your healthcare provider may advise you on magnesium supplements to improve your magnesium intake. 

Q. How Do You Know You Are Deficient in Magnesium?

We’ve spoken a lot about the need for magnesium, especially when you are in Menopause. Now comes another important aspect. How would you know if you are deficient in magnesium? Here are some of the signs to watch out for: 

  • Cramps, twitching, tremors, and weakness in muscle
  • Increased stress that may manifest into depression 
  • Increased fatigue 
  • Poor bones 
  • Spike in blood pressure levels 
  • Irregular or abnormal heart rhythms 
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Nausea
  • Tingling sensations in hands and legs 
  • Overall weakness 

What you need to keep in mind is the symptoms mentioned above coincide with your menopausal symptoms as well. So, if you are experiencing any of the signs discussed above for a prolonged period, you shouldn’t pass it off as your menopause woes. Do not delay in contacting the doctor as soon as possible. 

Q. Which Foods are Good Sources of Magnesium?

Many patients often enquire about foods with a high magnesium content. Here is a list of some of the magnesium-rich foods: 

  • Broccoli 
  • Avocado 
  • Bananas 
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Red, white, and black beans 
  • Cashews 
  • Leafy greens (Spinach, kale, turnip greens, mustard green, collard green)
  • Seeds (chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax) 
  • Tofu 
  • Soybeans 
  • Nuts (Brazil nuts, hashes, almonds, cashews, pili nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts) 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat 
  • Quinoa 
  • Barley
  • Fish (Salmon, halibut, mackerel) 

Q. When Should You Take Magnesium Supplements, And What are Some Commonly Available Ones?

Sometimes, magnesium-rich foods may not be enough to compensate for your low magnesium levels. You may need magnesium supplements for the same. However, you should seek medical advice before you take supplements. Your doctor would understand what is best for you and prescribe accordingly.  Then there are chances of side effects also. Consulting the healthcare provider before taking magnesium supplements applies to all, but even more to those with heart ailments, kidney diseases, intestinal problems, or diabetes. 

Most multivitamins given to women over 50 contain magnesium to make up for their daily needs. Here are some of the commonly available formulations: 

  • Magnesium oxide (studies show its benefit in treating headaches and constipation) 
  • Magnesium citrate (said to be effective for those with osteoporosis, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, and sugar levels)
  • Magnesium glycinate (known for being effective in people with depression
  • Magnesium acetyl taurate (helps to lessen anxiety
  • Magnesium sulfate (facilitates in managing constipation and also helps to prevent seizures in women suffering from preeclampsia) 
  • Magnesium malate (can relieve pain) 
  • Magnesium orotate (good for heart health and helps to lower blood pressure) 

Q. How Does the Doctor Diagnose Magnesium Deficiency? 

If you have irregular heartbeats, lessened appetite, and tiredness, alongside other symptoms, the doctor may advise for a blood test and even a urine test (if needed). An ECG might even be advised in case of an abnormal heartbeat.

Q. Does Magnesium Help with Hot Flashes? 

There isn’t any evidence to show the positive impact of magnesium on hot flashes, one of the most typical symptoms of Menopause. However, it works towards improving the associated symptoms that aggravate during an episode of hot flashes, like sleep issues, mood swings, increased anxiety levels, etc.

Q. What are The Side Effects of Magnesium? 

In most people, increased magnesium consumption from food doesn’t cause severe side effects as the excess mostly gets excreted through urine. Magnesium toxicity or poisoning is a rare occurrence. However, regularly consuming too much magnesium, more than the recommended dosage, could lead to potential side effects in the long run. These include reduced blood pressure, slow breathing, irregular heartbeats, etc.

Conclusion 

We hope Dr. Pike’s insight on magnesium and its benefits in Menopause will help you. Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that has multiple functions. In Menopause, its utility is even more. So, the onus lies on you to maintain your magnesium intake. Discussing how to increase your magnesium levels with your doctor will also help.

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