Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and essential for health. Estrogen is known to increase the absorption and utilization of magnesium by the body. However, high estrogen levels can deplete magnesium from the body. The interaction between estrogen and magnesium levels may be responsible for menstrual headaches and migraines as well as the increase in risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis after menopause.
Magnesium in the Body
Hundreds of biochemical processes in the body rely on magnesium. The immune system, regular heart beat, muscle contractions, nerve function and bone strength involve magnesium. Green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains are dietary sources of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can result from kidney disease, low dietary intake and medications such as diuretics and manifests as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness.
Magnesium and Estrogen
Estrogen increases the rate that body tissues and bone absorb magnesium from the blood. A 1993 review in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" suggests that normal estrogen levels may be responsible for the low incidence of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis in young women. The risk for these diseases sharply rise after menopause as estrogen levels decrease.
Menstrual Migraine and Magnesium
Magnesium has been effective in treating menstrual headaches and migraines in the short term. Estrogen levels decrease before and during menstruation, potentially altering magnesium metabolism, nerve and brain function. In severe migraines, estrogen therapy may be necessary to control symptoms. If you have frequent or debilitating headaches during menstruation, see your obstetrician/gynecologist for diagnostic tests.
Disease Risk and Magnesium
As estrogen levels decrease as a woman ages, the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis greatly increases. Calcium supplements are commonly taken to decrease the risk of osteoporosis. High calcium and low magnesium levels in the blood can lead to an increased rate of blood clotting and risk of cardiovascular disease. Older women taking calcium supplements should ask their doctors about concurrently taking supplemental magnesium.
- "Journal of the American College of Nutrition"; Interrelationship of Magnesium and Estrogen in Cardiovascular and Bone Disorders, Eclampsia, Migraine and Premenstrual Syndrome; Seelig; 1993
- "Journal of Reproductive Medicine"; Menstrually Related Migraine: Breaking the Cycle in Your Clinical Practice; Silberstein & Goldberg; 2007
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium Fact Sheet