Magnesium for PCOS

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There are many supplements that are recommended for people with PCOS. You may be wondering if you should be on magnesium for PCOS. But, what does magnesium do for the body and why is it important for PCOS management?

Read on to learn more about this mineral, what it does, and the different types of magnesium, and how to get more in your diet from foods. 

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral that is found in the body and is present in many foods (1). It is a coenzyme that helps to support many body functions including muscle and nerve functions, energy production, and the immune system (2). It also helps with blood sugar control and blood pressure (3).

Why is magnesium important for PCOS?

Women with PCOS have lower serum magnesium levels than people without PCOS (4). Magnesium may help reduce menstrual cramps, is a part of hair growth, and can help improve physical function and health (4). All of which are common struggles for women with PCOS. 

PCOS also increases insulin resistance which may lead to type 2 diabetes. Magnesium levels are often lower in people with insulin resistance (3). Magnesium may help with blood sugar control which is impacted by insulin resistance. 

How much magnesium is needed?

One way to understand how much magnesium is needed for optimum health is to look at the Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA. The RDA for nutrients is considered sufficient for nearly all healthy individuals so it is a good goal to aim for. 

The RDA for magnesium for women is: 

  • Ages 19-30 years: 310 mg/day, if pregnant: 350 mg/day
  • Ages 31-50 years: 320 mg/day, if pregnant: 360 mg/day
  • Ages 51 years and older: 320 mg/day

It is safest to supplement with no more than the RDA when considering a magnesium supplement.

Types of magnesium

Supplements:

There are many types of magnesium supplements you can purchase and not all are equal. Many supplements are not absorbed very well and can lead to poor side effects like diarrhea or abdominal cramping. It’s best to purchase the one that is within your budget but also absorbed well. 

Easy to find in stores:

Each of these are often found in stores, but there are some key differences.

  • Magnesium Oxide: easily found in most local grocery stores or pharmacies however, Magnesium Oxide is poorly absorbed so it is not super beneficial (5). It is the least expensive to purchase, but because it isn’t used very well by the body, I don’t recommend it.
  • Magnesium Glycinate: this type is found in many stores but is a little more expensive. I recommend magnesium glycinate because it is absorbed well and does not tend to cause side effects. It may make you sleepy because of the glycinate, so consider taking it in the evening before bed (5).
  • Magnesium Citrate: easily found in stores, well absorbed, and available in many forms. 

Buying online:

There are several online websites that offer magnesium supplements. Two of my recommendations are from other PCOS dietitians and they have researched their own supplements specifically for women with PCOS. You can find those here and here

I also like to recommend Nature Made vitamins because they do third party testing and are available in many stores like Walmart and Target or you can purchase directly from them online.

Food sources of magnesium:

Supplements aren’t for everyone. And, you may not need to supplement with magnesium if you are able to incorporate enough of it in the foods you eat. Here’s a list of foods that include higher amounts of magnesium (3).

  • Pumpkin seeds, 156 mg in 1 oz
  • Chia seeds, 111 mg/1oz
  • Almonds 80 mg/1 oz
  • Spinach boiled, 78 mg/half cup
  • Cashews, 74 mg/1oz
  • Peanuts, 63 mg/quarter cup
  • Other good sources: shredded wheat cereal, soymilk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, potato w/skin, brown rice, yogurt

To put it all together, check out this 7 Day PCOS Meal plan that incorporates food sources of magnesium and other nutrients important for PCOS. You can even download the printable PDF. 

Recap: 

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body. It helps with muscle and nerve function and can reduce many symptoms of PCOS like menstrual cramping, hair loss, and fatigue. Magnesium is available in many different types of supplements and food sources. This sample meal plan can help you include more magnesium into your diet. 

This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis. You should consult with your doctor before changing your diet or starting supplements for any health condition.

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