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Are there any benefits of magnesium for PCOS?

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome tend to experience irregular periods and other symptoms. But can magnesium help women with PCOS?
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Magnesium and PCOS may be connected. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 6 Apr 2024, 03:00 pm IST
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common hormonal disorder affecting women, typically during their reproductive years. Irregular menstrual cycle, fertility issues and weight gain are some of the problems that women with PCOS face. Magnesium, an important mineral, has been often linked with PCOS. It is believed that magnesium may help women with PCOS, which is characterised by an imbalance in the reproductive hormones.

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a common hormonal disorder affecting people with ovaries, especially during the reproductive phase, says gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Rijaphin R. It involves an imbalance in hormones, particularly androgens (such as testosterone) and insulin. Insulin resistance, a condition in which cells become less responsive to insulin, can lead to increased insulin levels in the blood. This can stimulate the ovaries to produce more androgens, disrupting the normal ovulation process.

A woman experiencing PCOS symptoms
Irregular period is a sign of PCOS. Image courtesy: Freepik

The exact cause of PCOS is not fully known, but it is believed to be due to genetic, environmental as well as lifestyle factors. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals or a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to the development or exacerbation of PCOS symptoms, says the expert. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Irregular periods
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Fertility issues
  • Weight gain

Do women with PCOS lack in magnesium?

There is no direct evidence to suggest that women with PCOS universally lack in magnesium. However, several factors associated with PCOS may contribute to deficiencies in various nutrients, including magnesium, in some women. Here are some reasons why women with PCOS may be at risk of magnesium deficiency:

1. Insulin resistance and metabolic disturbances

Many women with PCOS experience insulin resistance, which can lead to impaired glucose metabolism and alterations in mineral metabolism. These can potentially affect magnesium levels in the body.

2. Dietary factors

Women with PCOS may have dietary patterns that are low in magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium is found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes and whole grains. If individuals with PCOS do not consume an adequate amount of these foods, they may be at risk of magnesium deficiency.

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3. Increased stress levels

Stress is a common factor in the lives of many women with PCOS, and chronic stress can deplete magnesium levels in the body, says the expert. Magnesium plays a role in regulating the body’s stress response, and prolonged stress can lead to increased urinary excretion of magnesium, contributing to deficiency.

4. Medication use

Some medications commonly used to manage symptoms of PCOS, such as oral contraceptives or certain medications for insulin resistance, may interfere with magnesium absorption or increase magnesium excretion from the body.

5. Gastrointestinal issues

Gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or chronic constipation, are more prevalent in women with PCOS. These conditions can impair nutrient absorption, including magnesium, leading to deficiencies over time.

Should women with PCOS have magnesium?

Studies have reported conflicting results regarding the connection between PCOS and magnesium. Women that lack in magnesium are 19 times more likely to have the condition, according to a 2011 study published in the Gynecological Endocrinology journal. But in a 2023 study published in the Health Science Reports, researchers found that a single dose of magnesium supplementation had no beneficial effects on the symptoms in polycystic women.

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A woman holding magnesium supplements
Magnesium supplements may not always help women with PCOS. Image courtesy: Freepik

Still, women with PCOS may benefit from magnesium due to its potential role in managing symptoms and supporting overall health. Here are six health benefits of magnesium for women with PCOS:

1. Insulin sensitivity

Magnesium plays a crucial role in insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Women with PCOS often experience insulin resistance, and magnesium may help improve insulin sensitivity, says Dr Rijaphin. It can potentially reduce insulin resistance and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a common complication associated with PCOS.

2. Hormonal balance

Magnesium contributes to hormonal balance by influencing the production and activity of various hormones, including insulin, estrogen, and progesterone. Having magnesium-rich foods may help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, such as irregular periods and acne, commonly observed in women with PCOS.

3. Stress management

Magnesium plays a role in the body’s stress response and helps modulate the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. Women with PCOS are often stressed out due to the challenges connected with the condition. Magnesium may help mitigate the effects of stress, promoting relaxation and overall well-being.

4. Enhancing bone health

Magnesium is essential for maintaining bone health, as it plays a key role in bone formation. Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterised by weakened bones and increased fracture risk, particularly due to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance.

While there are foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds that are rich in magnesium, you can also go for magnesium supplements. But take them after consulting with your doctor.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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