What’s the best magnesium for PCOS? I get asked this question a lot!
Magnesium is a mineral that is naturally occurring in certain foods. But with the growing popularity of supplements, you may be wondering if a magnesium supplement is the right choice for you. And if it is, which form of magnesium is best for PCOS and how much should you be taking?
Hi, I’m Alyssa, a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS. I also have PCOS too…so trust me when I say, I get it!
This blog post will answer all of your questions about magnesium for PCOS, including what foods are good sources, what the best magnesium for PCOS is, and some of the best magnesium supplement brands for PCOS.
This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects up to 20% of women. Some common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, infertility, weight gain, cravings, hair loss, hirsutism (unwanted hair growth), acne, and fatigue.
PCOS is associated with insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and high androgen levels (aka male hormones like high testosterone levels). Because of this, PCOS patients are at an increased risk of developing certain chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver, and even endometrial cancer.
To read more about the different driving factors of PCOS symptoms, check out this post: 4 Types of PCOS: Which Is Your Type & How To Treat It.
Is Magnesium Good For PCOS?
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining hundreds of different enzymatic processes in the body. Among other things, it plays an important role in maintaining strong bones, normal blood pressure, stable heart rhythm, and balanced blood sugar levels.
Research has shown that most people do not get enough magnesium in their diet, and women with PCOS are no exception. Women with PCOS tend to have low magnesium levels compared to the general population (1). In fact, one research study found that women with low levels of magnesium were 19 times more likely to also have PCOS (2).
It’s unclear why women with PCOS tend to have lower magnesium levels compared to those without PCOS. There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon, such as:
- Lower dietary intake of magnesium rich foods
- Insulin resistance increases magnesium losses through urine
- Overweight or obesity
- Common medications for PCOS management, such as Metformin or birth control pills, may lower magnesium levels
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea, may increase magnesium losses
- Common supplements, such as zinc, may interfere with magnesium absorption
Now that we’ve talked about how magnesium needs are often higher in those with PCOS, let’s dive into what common PCOS symptoms this essential nutrient can help with.
Up to 80% of women with PCOS have some degree of insulin resistance so this should definitely be something on your radar. High insulin levels can worsen several PCOS symptoms and increase your risk for other metabolic conditions.
Higher magnesium intake, through foods and/or supplementation, can significantly improve insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance (3).
Chronic inflammation has emerged as one of the core driving factors of PCOS. While supplements can be helpful, including anti-inflammatory foods is a key approach to lowering inflammation.
A recent systematic review found that magnesium supplementation alone did not have a significant effect on glucose, cholesterol, oxidative stress or inflammatory markers. However, a combination of magnesium with vitamin E or zinc, calcium, and vitamin D supplementation significantly improved hs-CRP levels, which is used as a marker of inflammation. These combinations also led to a reduction in glucose, insulin, and cholesterol levels (4).
Testosterone is often the culprit when it comes to some of the embarrassing PCOS symptoms such as hair loss and hirsutism. Research has shown that women with lower serum magnesium levels have higher testosterone levels.
One randomized controlled trial found that 250 mg of magnesium oxide lowered testosterone levels (5). However, another recent study found that 250 mg of magnesium oxide did not have any beneficial effects on sleep quality, hyperandrogenism, or hirsutism (6).
For more strategies to lower testosterone levels, check out this post: How To Lower Testosterone in Women With PCOS.
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, are common in PCOS. I probably don’t have to explain this to you, but sleep is necessary for several reasons including hormonal balance and energy levels.
A recent systematic review found that there is a link between magnesium status and sleep disorders, but whether or not magnesium supplements can improve sleep provides conflicting results.
One PCOS clinical trial found positive effects of magnesium supplementation in combination with melatonin for improving sleep quality (7). This combination may sound familiar to you if you’ve seen the “sleepy girl mocktail” trend on social media. The sleepy girl mocktail contains both powdered magnesium and you get melatonin from the tart cherries.
Anxiety & Quality of Life
Women with PCOS have an increased risk of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Magnesium is commonly referred to as a calming mineral. Previous studies have shown that magnesium supplements may help to lower anxiety levels (8). In one PCOS study, supplementing with 250 mg of magnesium oxide daily resulted in reports of improved quality of life, including emotional wellbeing (9).
Food Sources of Magnesium
Now that we’ve talked about all the benefits of magnesium for PCOS, let’s not forget that we can get magnesium from foods too!
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 320 mg of magnesium per day for adult women. Some good sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, cashews, chia seeds, peanuts, black beans, edamame, yogurt, and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.
For more guidance on how to work some of these foods into your PCOS diet, don’t miss this one: A Dietitian’s 7 Day PCOS Diet Plan (PDF Included).
If you’re not getting enough magnesium through food, magnesium supplements may be an effective treatment option. Let’s dive into how to choose the best magnesium for PCOS.
Best Magnesium for PCOS (and favorite brands)
If you’ve decided that a magnesium supplement is the right choice for you, there’s a couple of things you’ll want to consider. You’ll want to consider which form of magnesium is going to be best for you, and the dosage.
Additionally, since dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, you’ll want to be sure you’re choosing a quality product. I recommend choosing supplements from companies that undergo voluntary third party testing. This means that the product is tested by an independent lab for quality and purity. Essentially, it means you’re actually getting what they’re advertising.
Now, let’s talk about some of these different forms of magnesium!
Magnesium citrate is a type of magnesium that is well-absorbed and cost-effective. It’s a combination of magnesium and citric acid, and is well-known for its laxative effect. It’s available in several different forms such as pill form, powder form, and gummy form.
Magnesium citrate is an ideal choice for PCOS, especially for someone who struggles with constipation.
This is the magnesium citrate pill option I usually recommend.
If you prefer a powder version, this is the magnesium citrate powder option I recommend.
Magnesium oxide is another affordable version of magnesium, however, it’s not absorbed as well as some of the other magnesium sources. Ironically, this type of magnesium is used frequently in research studies.
Similar to magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide is known to have a laxative effect. It has shown favorable benefits for relieving headaches or migraines.
Magnesium glycinate, also known as magnesium bisglycinate, is a form of magnesium that is chelated. This means that the magnesium is bound to an amino acid – in this case, the amino acid is glycine. This form of magnesium is well absorbed and well tolerated. It doesn’t tend to have a laxative effect like other forms of magnesium. However, at higher doses, it may cause some digestive discomfort or diarrhea.
Magnesium glycinate is ideal for PCOS, especially for those who already struggle with digestive issues, like bloating or diarrhea, and don’t want to aggravate that further.
This is my recommended magnesium glycinate pill option.
If you prefer powder form, this is the magnesium glycinate powder I recommend.
Magnesium threonate is another form of magnesium that is easily absorbed by the human body. These supplements usually contain Magtein, a patented form of magnesium threonate, vitamin C, and vitamin D. This magnesium form has been best studied for its ability to improve cognitive function. One downside is that it tends to be more expensive than other forms of magnesium.
The Best Type of Magnesium for PCOS
I generally recommend either magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. These are two forms of magnesium that are absorbed well and are relatively cost effective to obtain.
For those who suffer from constipation, magnesium citrate may be a good option to consider. For those who struggle with digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea, magnesium glycinate may be a better choice to consider.
How Much Magnesium Should I Take For PCOS?
If you’ve determined that you may benefit from a supplement, your doctor or registered dietitian can guide you on a specific amount of magnesium that is appropriate for you.
Your healthcare provider may evaluate you for symptoms of magnesium deficiency or check your serum magnesium concentration through a blood test. You should know though that these lab tests aren’t the most reliable since only a small amount is in your bloodstream. The remaining magnesium is in your muscles and soft tissue.
It’s worthwhile to note that the Tolerable Upper Limit for the use of magnesium supplementation (not magnesium from food) is set at 350 mg per day (11). In other words, it’s not recommended to take more than 350 mg of magnesium per day through supplementation.
Best Time To Take Magnesium
Consistency is key to any supplement. Take magnesium supplements when you’re going to be able to consistently remember to take them on a daily basis. Since one effect of magnesium supplementation is improved sleep, it may be helpful to take it closer to bedtime.
The Bottom Line
Magnesium is an essential mineral that has several beneficial effects for various PCOS symptoms. Research has shown that magnesium may improve insulin resistance, inflammation, testosterone levels, sleep disorders, anxiety, and premenstrual syndrome.
Magnesium can be obtained from food sources such as dark leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, cashews, beans, and edamame. If you aren’t able to get enough magnesium from food sources, or have a magnesium deficiency, taking magnesium supplements may be a good alternative.
Magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are two of the best forms of magnesium for those with PCOS. These two types of magnesium are absorbed well by the human body and are affordable options. Magnesium citrate is a good option for those who struggle with constipation routinely. Alternatively, magnesium glycinate is a good option if you already struggle with digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea.
Disclaimer: This is for education purposes only. It is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice. It is not intended to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or any other health conditions. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.