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Magnesium for PCOS – Benefits, Dosage, Safety & Best Brands

Kym Campbell

By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated November 8th, 2023

A lot of women with PCOS have inadequate levels of magnesium. This is an avoidable cost to your health and fertility.

This article tells you everything you need to know about magnesium for PCOS. You’ll discover the benefits, tips on blood testing, and how to supplement this essential nutrient.

Magnesium supplements make a lot of sense for women with PCOS. But following a PCOS diet like the one we use during my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge is the best way to increase your magnesium intake. This also treats the underlying causes of all PCOS symptoms.

Leeanne Weight Loss PCOS Success Story

How Much is Enough Magnesium

Women are supposed to get 9.6 mg of dietary magnesium per pound of body weight each day [1]. Most of us aren’t getting there [2]. According to RDA calculations, that’s around 450 – 530 mg/day for the average woman. This is a lot higher than the current recommended daily allowances which experts argue need to be revised [1].

Inadequate dietary intake of magnesium is society-wide. The United States NHANES 2005–2006 survey reported that nearly half of American adults have an inadequate intake. More recent estimates put this figure at 60% [3].

For women with PCOS, the problem is even worse [4].

Why PCOS Women Have Low Magnesium

Women with PCOS are more likely to have low levels of many important minerals including magnesium [5, 6].

Several PCOS-related risk factors account for this finding.

  • Being overweight [7].
  • Insulin resistance [8-11].
  • Medications like metformin and birth control [12, 13].

Magnesium plays a key role in health and disease prevention [2, 14]. Because magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme systems, inadequate levels can contribute to a range of PCOS symptoms.

Benefits of Magnesium for PCOS

There are three underlying drivers of all PCOS symptoms. Insulin resistance, elevated androgens, and chronic inflammation [15-20]. Magnesium can act on all three of these mechanisms [8, 9, 21-24]. This is why it has a significant effect on PCOS hormone imbalances [25]. The net effect is that magnesium supplements can impact a wide range of symptoms.

  • Magnesium may help with PCOS weight loss [25].
  • When combined with vitamin E, zinc, and calcium, magnesium can improve metabolic dysfunction in women with PCOS [23, 26].
  • Magnesium supplementation on its own can lower blood pressure [27, 28].
  • When coupled with vitamin E, modest doses can reduce measures of hirsutism [29]. This is because magnesium and vitamin E have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Magnesium supplements can help prevent premenstrual syndrome, painful periods, and menstrual migraines [5].
  • Magnesium has been shown to improve a range of metrics relating to quality of life among women with PCOS. This includes things like energy/fatigue, social functioning, and emotional well-being [30]. It can also help with mild anxiety [31, 32].

Best Foods for Magnesium

A nutrient-dense PCOS diet is the best way to up your magnesium intake. This is because a PCOS diet includes a lot of magnesium-rich foods. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almonds are some of the richest sources of dietary magnesium. But leafy greens like Swiss chard, spinach, basil, and kale are also high in magnesium.

I use many of these ingredients in my PCOS recipes. This includes those in my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge and free 3-Day PCOS meal plan. The addition of magnesium-rich foods, may in part, account for the great results women see when they make the right changes to their diet.

Kristin PCOS Success Story

What Type of Magnesium for PCOS

There are several different types of magnesium supplements, each with different benefits.

  • Magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed and is mostly used for heartburn and constipation.
  • Magnesium citrate is often used as a laxative too, but it’s better absorbed than magnesium oxide.
  • Magnesium glycinate is often used to support sleep, and relaxation, and for general supplementation.
  • Magnesium bisglycinate is a newer form of magnesium glycinate. It has higher absorption rates and may be better for people with digestive concerns.
  • Magnesium threonate may be the best type of magnesium for improving brain and memory function.
  • Magnesium malate supports energy production and reduces pain and fatigue.

In general, the best magnesium products for PCOS use either bisglycinate, threonate, or malate forms.

Magnesium supplementation alone doesn’t provide much benefit [23]. Research shows that when supplementing magnesium, you also want to take vitamins D and E, zinc, and calcium [25, 29].

That’s why I recommend Women’s Multi 50+ by Thorne Research. This product includes 180 mg of magnesium malate and ticks all the boxes concerning other essential nutrients. Another thing that sets it apart is the exclusion of copper and iron. Both of these nutrients are known to be higher in women with PCOS compared to healthy controls [33]. Multi-vitamins that contain copper and iron are probably a bad idea for PCOS women.

But what if you’re already taking a good multivitamin and only want a pure magnesium supplement? In this instance, then I recommend Thorne’s magnesium bisglycinate powder.

Thorne Research is a well-respected supplement brand. As I explain in my article on Berberine for PCOS, they have many third-party certifications.

How to Test Magnesium Levels

To optimize magnesium levels, blood testing is needed. Being an informed patient is essential during this process.

Serum magnesium is the most common blood test for assessing magnesium levels. But many physicians fail to understand its limitations [34]. Only 1 % of magnesium is found in serum. Most of it is found in bones, muscles, and other soft tissues. Because of this, reference ranges need updating. A reference range of 0.7 to 1.0 mmol/L is considered normal. That’s the same as 1.7 to 2.4 mg/dL. Yet studies show that values less than 0.85 mmol/L (2.1 mg/dL) are associated with increased health risks [35].

For decades, it’s been known that a “normal” serum magnesium test result doesn’t indicate optimal magnesium status. You really want to be at the upper end of normal ranges [3, 35, 36].

Safety & Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements

Too much magnesium from food isn’t a problem. Adverse effects from supplementation are also limited because the body will only absorb as much as it needs.

The most likely issue with too much magnesium is GI distress and diarrhea. The less bioavailable forms of magnesium are more likely to have this effect which is why they’re used as laxatives.

Most experts agree that doses of 350 mg per day are safe for most adults.

Magnesium supplements can also interact with some medications. For women with PCOS, it’s important to be aware of interactions with levothyroxine and some Type 2 diabetes medications.

Antibiotics, and blood pressure medications can also interact with some magnesium supplements.

When taking doses higher than those used in products like Women’s Multi 50+, it pays to check in with your doctor first.

The Bottom Line

Women with PCOS have a high risk of insufficient magnesium levels. Part of this is due to PCOS-related factors, but inadequate dietary intake is a widespread problem. Increased intake either through diet or supplementation can help manage many PCOS symptoms. Most notably, increased magnesium intake may help with weight loss and metabolic dysfunction. It can also help with hirsutism, menstrual problems, and emotional well-being.

Standard blood testing for magnesium is inaccurate. So it’s important to understand what acceptable levels should be.

The best way to up your magnesium levels is by following a PCOS diet. You can get started today with my free 3-Day Meal Plan and free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge.

When considering magnesium supplements, a multivitamin product is best. But caution is warranted when taking higher doses of magnesium along with other medications.

Ready to Take Action?

  • Join my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge here. This is a unique program where you'll receive weekly meal plans, shopping lists, and helpful video lessons. You'll also be part of a motivated and inspiring community of like-minded women.

  • Download my free 3-Day PCOS Diet Meal Plan here. This is perfect for getting started if you aren't ready to commit to 30 days.

  • Join my PCOS Monthly Meal Planning Service here. This service includes hundreds of PCOS recipes within a pre-populated, yet customizable meal plan. It's designed to save you time and help you apply a PCOS diet.

  • Sign up for my Beat PCOS 10-Week Program. This is a comprehensive program that covers diet, PCOS-centric emotional eating, exercise, stress management, and much more. All within a support group environment. The 10-Week Program includes the same recipes and meal plan as my monthly meal planning service.

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