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How magnesium could help with your menopause symptoms

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a number of important roles around your body. You need it to turn food into energy, maintain healthy muscle and bone, and for proper nerve and brain function.

The reproductive hormone oestrogen helps your body process magnesium. During perimenopause and menopause, as oestrogen levels fall, so does magnesium. In some cases, this can lead to magnesium deficiency.

Studies suggest that magnesium supplements may help with a number of menopause symptoms, including anxiety, sleep problems, low mood and reduced bone density. We’ll explore this in detail below.

We’ll also look at which is the best form of magnesium for menopause, and how much you should take, as well as some foods that are high in magnesium.

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5 menopause symptoms magnesium may help with

Here we’ll assess some potential benefits of taking magnesium supplements during perimenopause and menopause, including their effects on sleep, anxiety and mood.

1. Sleep problems

You can have problems with sleep at any time of your life but significantly more women experience them once they hit perimenopause.

Common issues include trouble getting to sleep and waking up during the night or early in the morning. Other menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats, anxiety, and muscle pain or joint pain, can all contribute to this.

Magnesium plays a role in maintaining your circadian rhythms – your internal body clock that’s involved in sleep. 

While there’s not much research looking specifically at the effects of magnesium on sleep problems in menopausal women, other more general studies have had encouraging results.

One large-scale observational study conducted over 20 years found that people who consumed the most magnesium – through a combination of diet and supplements – tended to have better sleep quality and slept for longer.

A similar study found that higher magnesium intake was linked to a reduced risk of falling asleep during the day – but only in women, not men.

A small clinical trial involving older people seems to back up some of these observational findings. Participants who had taken a daily magnesium supplement for 8 weeks got to sleep more quickly, slept for longer, had better quality sleep and slept until later. Their levels of sleep-related brain chemicals, including melatonin and cortisol, were also improved.

2. Anxiety and stress

Increased anxiety and stress are common and potentially debilitating symptoms of perimenopause. You may have feelings of fear and dread and could even experience panic attacks.

Magnesium is involved in the functioning of your body’s stress response system, and magnesium supplements have been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve anxiety symptoms.

A review of multiple studies found evidence that magnesium supplements were as effective as pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drugs at relieving symptoms in people with mild to moderate anxiety.

Although the review didn’t include research focusing on perimenopausal or menopausal women, it did highlight a study involving women with pre-menstrual syndrome. Participants saw a significant reduction in symptoms including nervous tension and anxiety after taking supplements containing a combination of magnesium oxide and vitamin B6.

3. Low mood

Anxiety and stress are not the only mental health conditions associated with perimenopause and menopause. You may also experience depression, mood swings and irritability, or feelings of low confidence and self-esteem.

Magnesium is thought to play a part in the functioning of your brain’s limbic system, which is involved with your emotional responses. And a low intake of magnesium has been linked to an increased risk of depression.

A review of seven clinical trials, including participants with mild to major levels of depression, found that taking magnesium supplements significantly reduced their depression scores.

4. Reduced bone density and osteoporosis

In the later stages of perimenopause, the density and strength of your bones starts to rapidly decrease. Osteoporosis, when your bones become fragile and more prone to fracture, is most common in post-menopausal women.

Magnesium is crucial to the process of creating new bone, increasing vitamin D levels, which in turn helps your body to use calcium more efficiently. A lower intake of magnesium has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women.

Magnesium supplements have been shown to increase bone density in menopausal women in as little as a month.

However, some studies suggest that taking too much magnesium could actually hamper healthy bone production and increase your risk of fractures.

If you’re concerned about the health of your bones, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether magnesium supplements are right for you.

5. Bloating

During perimenopause, fluctuating hormones can slow your digestion and cause water retention, both of which can lead to a bloated feeling.

So far, there hasn’t been much research looking specifically at the effects of magnesium supplements on menopausal bloating. But studies have shown that a daily dose of magnesium can reduce hormonal fluid retention in premenstrual women after just a month.

Certain types of magnesium are also used in over-the-counter laxatives. They can provide effective short-term relief from constipation by drawing water into your bowels to help get things moving. However, you shouldn’t take them for longer than recommended as they can upset your body chemistry.

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Can magnesium help with menopause weight gain?

Weight gain is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. Even if your weight doesn’t go up, you may find your body composition becomes less healthy – for example, your ratio of body fat to muscle may increase.

While there’s not much evidence that taking magnesium supplements has a direct effect on your weight, its impact on other menopausal symptoms might. Poor sleep, for instance, can reduce your metabolic rate, which makes weight loss more difficult.

It’s therefore possible that by helping to improve your sleep, magnesium could have an indirect effect on your weight.

Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that the best ways to look after your weight, your body composition and your overall health are eating a balanced diet – including a wide variety of plants – and getting regular exercise.

What type of magnesium is best for menopause?

The magnesium in supplements comes in a number of different chemical forms, including:

  • magnesium glycinate, also known as bisglycinate or digylcinate
  • magnesium citrate
  • magnesium oxide
  • magnesium chlorate
  • magnesium lactate
  • magnesium taurate
  • magnesium aspartate

It’s also delivered in different ways, from pills and tablets to creams and sprays.

Based on the available science, here are some of the things to consider when choosing a magnesium supplement to help with your menopause symptoms.


A substance’s bioavailability is how much of it your body is able to process and make use of when you consume it.

The most efficiently absorbed forms of magnesium include magnesium glycinate, along with magnesium chloride, lactate and aspartate. Magnesium oxide, however, has relatively poor bioavailability.

There’s also some evidence that magnesium may be better absorbed when taken in supplements that contain vitamin B6.

Mood symptoms

Magnesium glycinate supports normal psychological and nervous system function and is often used to help with mood-related symptoms like anxiety, stress and sleep problems.

In fact, studies have linked both magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate to short-term recovery from depression.

Digestive issues

Magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are often used in laxatives to provide short-term relief from constipation.

However, you shouldn’t use these products on a regular basis as they may cause other digestive issues, such as diarrhoea.

Studies suggest that other forms, like magnesium glycinate, are less likely to have side effects like diarrhoea.

Different ways to take magnesium

Magnesium supplements most often come as pills and capsules. But more recently you may have seen magnesium creams and oil sprays. These are often recommended by manufacturers to help with sleep.

While there’s plenty of evidence to demonstrate how the magnesium in pills is absorbed into your blood stream via your gut, some researchers believe that magnesium absorption via the skin – known as transdermal absorption – is yet to be fully proved.

For most people, pills are the quickest and most convenient form of magnesium supplement – but if you don’t like taking them, a spray or cream could be worth trying.

How much magnesium should I take?

The NHS says the average woman needs around 270 milligrams (mg) of magnesium each day, but that daily supplements of up to 400 mg are likely to be safe. In the US, the recommended daily allowance is 320 mg.

It’s possible to get enough magnesium from a healthy, balanced diet, but many people don’t. Your magnesium levels fall along with your oestrogen levels, which is why some perimenopausal and menopausal women may need supplements.

Can you take magnesium on HRT?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces reproductive hormones like oestrogen and progesterone that are lost when you go through perimenopause or menopause.

HRT itself can increase your magnesium levels, probably due to the increase in oestrogen.

If you’re using HRT to help with your menopause symptoms, there are some medications and supplements the NHS says you shouldn’t take.

While magnesium is not one of these, supplements are not tested in the same way as prescription medicines so it’s best to check with your doctor.

Foods high in magnesium

Changes to our diets, including the increase in processed foods, means that many people don’t get the recommended amounts of magnesium.

While supplements can help with this, you should also consider eating more foods that contain magnesium.

Some of the best sources of magnesium are green vegetables, but all of the following have high amounts:

  • leafy green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli
  • nuts, including almonds and cashews
  • seeds, such as flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower
  • legumes, including peas, black beans and soyabeans
  • whole grains, like brown rice, oats and millet
  • fruit, such as bananas, dried apricots and avocados
  • sweetcorn
  • tofu

Milk and meat also contain some magnesium, while processed foods generally have the least.


The drop in oestrogen levels during menopause can lead to reduced levels of magnesium.

There’s evidence that taking a magnesium supplement can improve a number of perimenopause and menopause symptoms, including sleep problems, anxiety, low mood and reduced bone density.

Choosing the right supplement is important. Some forms of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide, have less bioavailability. Others, like magnesium glycinate, may be more effective in helping with mood symptoms, and less likely to cause digestive issues.

More evidence is needed to show whether magnesium is absorbed as well from products like creams and sprays as it from pills and capsules.

Recommended daily amounts of magnesium for women range from 270 mg to 320 mg.

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Additional sources

Magnesium: fact sheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health. (2022).

Zinc, magnesium, selenium and depression: a review of the evidence, potential mechanisms and implications. Nutrients. (2018).