Five Benefits of Magnesium for Hormone Balance


Please login to view this content , or sign up for an account

Magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Yet, women in the US have lower dietary intake of this mineral than men, making them more prone to magnesium deficiencies. For women especially, magnesium is important because it plays a role in hundreds of different functions involved in hormone regulation. Thankfully, increasing dietary magnesium intake and taking a daily supplement can reverse symptoms and optimize blood sugar levels, mood, sleep and menstrual cycles.

Blood Sugar

Magnesium plays a role in managing blood sugar levels by regulating insulin and carbohydrate metabolism. This has been supported by a variety of research findings on magnesium supplementation in diabetics. For example, a 12-week study conducted on 54 people with type 2 diabetes revealed that taking 300 mg of magnesium daily significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels compared to those who took a placebo. Similarly, another systematic review showed that taking 250-450 mg of magnesium for four months significantly improved insulin resistance markers and fasting glucose levels in diabetic and non-diabetic patients. However, even non-diabetics who tend to consume less dietary magnesium show to be at greater risk of type 2 diabetes than people who consume greater amounts. For example, one review revealed that individuals with the highest regular intake of magnesium had a 22% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who regularly consumed the least amount of magnesium. With insulin being an essential hormone for regulating blood sugar, increasing magnesium intake through diet or supplementation may offer beneficial outcomes specifically for diabetics and those at risk of diabetes.


Not only can magnesium help manage the insulin response, but it can also help regulate cortisol levels. Cortisol is a key hormone in the stress response system. Studies have shown that having low levels of magnesium can increase stress in the body. This occurs because magnesium is responsible for muscle function and relaxation. Thus, when magnesium levels are low, muscles are more prone to tension and cramping. Conversely, research reveals that having high levels of both mental and physical stress can deplete magnesium levels as well. This process happens through urinary extraction, where stress can trigger the kidneys to expel magnesium through the urine. Therefore, low magnesium levels can increase stress, and high levels of stress can lower magnesium levels. Thankfully, magnesium supplementation has been shown to reduce urinary cortisol excretion, thus offering a strategy for reducing cortisol levels. While magnesium supplementation can help, alternative strategies for managing the stress response such as through meditation, walking, or journaling can also be beneficial for preventing magnesium deficiencies.


Magnesium may also play a protective role in thyroid health. This mineral is needed to convert the inactive form of the thyroid hormone (T4) into the active form (T3). Therefore, low levels of magnesium can create thyroid hormone imbalances that can lead to conditions such as hypothyroidism. For example, low serum magnesium levels have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism. Magnesium is also needed to activate vitamin D, which also supports thyroid function. One randomized clinical trial conducted on 180 participants revealed that those who supplemented with magnesium daily had higher levels of vitamin D than those who took a placebo pill. These findings suggest that sufficient magnesium levels may be important for optimizing vitamin D status, consequently supporting thyroid health. Therefore, people with hypothyroidism should be cautious of magnesium deficiencies and may benefit from supplementation.


Magnesium is also responsible for metabolizing and eliminating estrogen from the body. Like many hormones, estrogen must pass through three phases of metabolism for safe removal. Therefore, it makes sense that having high levels of estrogen can lower magnesium levels. This also affects calcium, which is closely related to magnesium. When magnesium levels drop, this can affect the ratio of calcium and magnesium in the body. A high calcium to magnesium ratio can increase the risk of blood clots, which can lead to cardiovascular complications. Alternatively, healthy levels of estrogen can improve magnesium uptake, allowing cells to utilize magnesium more effectively. Through optimal metabolism, magnesium supplementation may be helpful in balancing high levels of estrogen by removing excess estrogen in the body. Common symptoms related to high levels of estrogen include heavy menstrual bleeding, weight gain, anxiety and depression.


Another way magnesium can help with hormone balance can be explained by its relationship to progesterone. Magnesium can help increase progesterone levels by regulating the pituitary gland, which is promotes progesterone production. Low progesterone levels in women are associated with irregular menstrual periods, headaches, and poor sleep. One study revealed that magnesium levels in menstruating women significantly increased during the premenstrual period in comparison to other periods of the cycle. Therefore, healthy levels of magnesium not only can support progesterone balance and optimize menstrual cycles but may also play a therapeutic role in premenstrual symptoms.

Since testing for magnesium is not easily available in routine blood tests, symptoms related to magnesium deficiencies can be one of the best ways to know if it is time to increase magnesium intake. Consuming magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds and whole grains with a supplement is a great way to increase magnesium levels while still reaping the nutritious benefits from their whole food counterparts. In addition, supplemental forms like magnesium glycinate and citrate are easily absorbed, but neither should be taken in excess as it may lead to unwanted laxative effects.

Monica Echeverri holds a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States and currently works as a food photographer, writer, and recipe developer.

This article was reviewed and approved by Emeran Mayer, MD