Helen Seymour is in Peri-Menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her weekly column we follow her on her journey towards the Menopause, learning as she does all about the big M.
When I was little my mother would give us Milk of Magnesia once a week. She did it because her mother did it. She did it to keep our system in good working order with the aid of magnesium. I still remember the dark blue bottle, the chalky, milky gritty taste. I quite liked it actually. She did it on “bath night” which was also homemade hamburger and chips night, and as it was Saturday, it also meant Wonder Woman. I loved Wonder Woman. I loved the way she quickly looked left and right before she twirled around, to make sure nobody found out who she really was. I do that now. Any time I’m about to change into one of the many people I secretly am, I always look left and right first. That show taught me a lot.
Magnesium is particularly good for menopause. This multi-tasking mineral is actually the fourth most abundant mineral in our body. It’s needed for literally hundreds of different chemical processes within us. It keeps your bones healthy, your heart healthy, your mood up, your thyroid balanced, your nerve function strong. It keeps your blood pressure level, gives you healthy hair and nails, curbs sugar cravings (thank you) and guess what, it is also known to keep you young, which none of us are going to complain about. It balances your hormones, gives you good muscle function and best of all, it helps you sleep. Unreal. Go magnesium.
Sadly, in menopause, your magnesium stores plummet, as does your body’s ability to efficiently use the magnesium you do have. This has the effect of worsening many of your menopause symptoms. However, the good news is if we pay closer attention to our magnesium intake, and get as much of this amazing mineral as we can, we could alleviate or even eliminate some of those menopause symptoms. One study even demonstrated that supplementing with oral magnesium resulted in a 50% reduction in hot flashes. Worth a try, right? Here are the three best ways to up your magnesium intake:
Step 1 – Eat foods rich in magnesium
Obvious, but true. The richest sources of the mineral include:
- Dark leafy greens — add a handful of green leafy veggies like kale or spinach to your daily diet
- Nuts and seeds — the riches sources include almonds, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds
- Fish — especially mackerel and tuna
- Legumes — chickpeas, red kidney beans and lentils offer the greatest benefit.
- Avocado — just one creamy avocado contains a whopping 15% of your RDA
- Grains — especially millet, quinoa and brown rice
- Fruit — most fruit contains useful amounts of magnesium, especially figs, bananas, strawberries and grapefruit
- Dark chocolate — opt for at least 75% cocoa content.
Eat organic where possible. Modern farming methods have reduced many of the nutrients in our foods so they just don’t contain what they used to.
Step 2 – Protect yourself from magnesium thieves
Even if you seem to be getting enough magnesium in your diet, there are many lifestyle habits which can destroy magnesium in your body, or prevent it from being properly absorbed. The top five magnesium thieves are sugar, stress, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. While it’s not possible for any of us to avoid all of these completely, just be aware that excessive amounts of any of the above steal away what magnesium you have, so take a look at that list and think about what you need to cut down or cut out.
Step 3 – Consider taking a magnesium supplement
Consider taking a magnesium supplement. These come in many different forms, such as oral supplements, oils, bath salts, gels and lotions. I personally love the “Better You” range for transdermal magnesium oils, gels and lotions, and their Epsom salts are superb. Visit their website betteryou.com .
For oral supplements, my go-to brand is Solgar. When you walk into a health store, you will see a gazillion different types of oral magnesium supplements on the shelf and it’s very easy to get confused. The best types for menopause are citrate and L-threonate. Citrate is a good all-rounder, and L-threonate is particularly good for brain function, so if brain fog is an issue for you, go for that. Start with 200mg a day to see how you get on, and increase to 400mg if necessary. Take at night, as it aids sleep.
Be aware, higher doses of magnesium can have a laxative effect. If you have a sensitive stomach or a leaky gut, then the transdermal oils, gels and bath salts may be a better route for you.
Dedicating this to all the Wonder Women I know. For there are many, and they are mighty.