Magnesium can have a significant impact on hormone levels in the body, so it makes sense that it could have an effect on the symptoms of menopause, which are generally caused by a decline in hormones.
How Does Menopause Happen?
For those who are unfamiliar, menopause marks the end of your menstrual cycles, later in life. It’s characterized by significant changes in hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone), resulting in the loss of menstruation and the ability to conceive babies. This happens on average around the age of 51-52, but depends on the individual and could happen much earlier or later. Some symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, are caused by this hormone decline, especially reduced levels of natural estrogen production.
The body’s transition to menopause happens over time. It may take several years of irregular periods and on and off menopause symptoms before your body has fully transitioned.
This time leading up to menopause is sometimes incorrectly also called menopause, but it’s actually called perimenopause.
Perimenopause is characterized by a range of menopausal symptoms caused by unpredictable changes in hormone levels. Some women experience irregular periods during this time because they stop ovulating as regularly as before. Additionally, the ovaries create fluctuating amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which altogether causes inconsistent cycle lengths in the years leading up to menopause. Women are perimenopausal for about 4 years on average before their periods stop and they are unable to become pregnant.
Menopause has officially occurred when it’s been a full year since your last period. This means no bleeding, not even spotting, for 12 months consecutively.
Your Health After Menopause
When you’ve reached menopause, you’re free from symptoms of PMS, but you’ll face new health considerations. Progesterone and estrogen levels have dropped significantly, which can put you at risk for certain health concerns.
- Heart health. Women under the age of 55 have a lower risk of heart disease than men because pre-menopause, the estrogen they produce allows their blood vessels to stay relaxed and unobstructed. Estrogen also helps the body maintain a beneficial balance of good and bad cholesterol. When estrogen production drops with menopause, women lose the protective effects and by age 70, women have the same risk of heart health problems as men of the same age.
- Osteoporosis. The decrease in estrogen also leads to faster loss of bone mass, which raises the possibility of developing osteoporosis, a condition that makes your bones fragile, brittle, and easily broken.
- Stroke. Much like the increase of risk of heart disease, lower estrogen levels may allow for cholesterol build up on the arterial walls through which blood flows to the brain. This is part of the reason why your risk for stroke doubles each decade beyond the age of 55.
The health risks associated with menopause do sound daunting, but as long as the right preventative measures are taken, heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke can be prevented.
That said, if you are worried about your health, always consult a medical professional.
Menopause Symptoms and How Magnesium Can Help
Maintaining Bone Health with Magnesium
Between 10-30% of women are affected by osteoporosis after menopause, and that percentage only goes up with age. Because about 60% of the magnesium in your body is stored in the bones, proper magnesium intake plays a critical role in bone health and protecting against osteoporosis.
As mentioned earlier, as estrogen production declines with menopause, bone loss is increased, and the body’s ability to rebuild the lost bone mass is impaired. This means that bone mass is being lost faster than it’s being rebuilt, which is the reason for the weakened, porous bones characteristic of osteoporosis patients.
Magnesium is directly related to maintaining bone strength. It helps to strengthen different components of the bone, as well as helping the bones to better absorb calcium. Without it, calcium wouldn’t be properly absorbed, would build up, and potentially become dangerous. Calcium must be balanced with magnesium in the right way in order to maintain its beneficial properties.
Studies have found that sufficient magnesium intake has resulted in stronger bones for postmenopausal women.
Getting a Full Night of Sleep After Menopause
Up to 60% of postmenopausal women experience insomnia or some form of sleep complication. There are a handful of reasons for menopausal insomnia. Waking up during the night is the most common complaint, as a result of other symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and depression.) These symptoms, combined with a decline in melatonin and progesterone, two hormones that promote sleep, are thought to be the primary causes of menopausal insomnia.
Difficulty sleeping has been linked to multiple other menopause symptoms, such as irritability, weight gain, and stress.
Magnesium can mitigate sleep problems by naturally regulating your body’s clock, and relaxing muscles, and promoting the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that decreases nervous system activity. Additionally, inadequate levels of magnesium are associated with lower sleep quality and fewer hours of sleep.
A study found that older adults who supplemented magnesium experienced a notable increase in sleep quality, quantity, and bodily production of melatonin, compared to the control group who saw none of these benefits.
Regulating Post-Menopausal Mental Health (Including Anxiety and Depression)
Depression is not an uncommon symptoms for many perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. It can be caused by the rapidly shifting levels of hormones, menopause symptoms, or a combination of the two. Some women’s sadness stems from the loss of fertility associated with menopause, while others have different causes. Regardless, a doctor will be able to give you the resources you need to get through this time in your life.
Depression is complicated by many contributing factors, but it has been suggested that sufficient magnesium levels may relieve at least certain symptoms of depression. Because of magnesium’s role in brain function, stress management, and mood regulation, studies show it can be helpful for those who experience anxiety or depression.
In general, low levels of magnesium have been coupled with higher rates of depression. In a study of specifically postmenopausal women, 81.9% had low blood levels of magnesium. Furthermore, individuals with low magnesium were more likely to describe mild to moderate symptoms of depression.
As we age, it becomes harder and harder to acquire sufficient magnesium through diet, which is part of the reason that older adults are at an increased risk for magnesium deficiency (which could increase anxiety). Older people risk magnesium deficiency at a higher rate than younger populations because of changes in gut function associated with aging, certain medications, and diets that tend to be low in magnesium. This means that it is even more important in our later years that we get the magnesium we need, through our diets or a supplement.
One of the most common recommendations for treating these mental health difficulties (depression, anxiety, stress, irritability, etc.) is to make sure you have a healthy sleep schedule and that you’re getting enough exercise.
Heart Health After Menopause & How Magnesium Helps
A number of factors contribute to postmenopausal women being at increased risk of heart disease. High blood pressure, triglycerides (a type of lipid, or fat, found in blood), and bad cholesterol can all be increased due to the decrease in estrogen, increase in stress, age, and in some cases, bad lifestyle habits.
As part of its role in relaxing muscles and regulating nerve impulses, magnesium contributes to a healthy heartbeat and overall good cardiovascular health. Unsurprisingly, low magnesium has also been connected to poor heart health. One study found that of 3,713 postmenopausal women, those with higher levels of magnesium had fewer inflammatory markers related to heart disease, which suggested better heart health.
Given that magnesium-rich foods are usually also full of antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which all benefit heart health, they are great choices to maintain healthy magnesium levels and a good heart. Post-menopausal women who are at a higher risk of magnesium deficiency should pay special attention to their magnesium intake and overall well being.
Magnesium Must-Knows for Post-Menopausal Women
While some of these symptoms have been linked to menopause, it is also entirely possible that you are experiencing the natural effects of aging.
As women begin to experience this new part of their lives, a number of things change. From bone health to mental health, it’s important to be aware of these changes and what you can do to make the transition in the way that’s best for you.
Natural Calm is a natural product that can be used to ease a number of the symptoms of menopause so that you can get proper rest, strengthen your bones, and regulate your mood.
If you are bothered by any of these things, talk to your doctor to see how you can mitigate the symptoms. If you’re looking for a natural route to healthy postmenopausal life, magnesium may be the right choice for you!