Woman meditating on beach

Menopause – No Big Deal Thanks to Magnesium

As I sit here researching and writing about the relationship between magnesium status and menopause symptoms I am rubbing my chin at one particularly annoying spot… The one with that pesky single hair that grows out of the same spot ever since menopause.  At least there are no more pimples!

The new chin hairs that plague menopausal women are a result of dropping estrogen levels. When estrogen drops, the bit of testosterone that had been submerged becomes more prominent in that new hormone balance.  This is why, when you observe older couples, the woman seems to have become more dominant, confident and outspoken in the relationship, whereas the man, having dropped a bit of his testosterone level, has become slightly more submissive to his partner’s new-found bravery and confidence.  It’s kind of cute to watch as their partnership evolves into the comfort zone of the golden years.

The quality of life in these years will be directly related to the quality of diet and lifestyle – including the presence of optimal magnesium.  Adequate magnesium helps you breeze through menopause and age more youthfully! It is the most important mineral to supply electrical energy.

“You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.”
Dr Linus Pauling (two-time Nobel Prize winner)

Magnesium is critical to several processes including:

“hormone receptor binding;

gating of calcium channels;

transmembrane ion flux and regulation of adenylate cyclase;

muscle contraction;

neuronal activity;

control of vasomotor tone;

cardiac excitability;

and neurotransmitter release. [1]

Peri menopause can start in the thirties or forties and is marked by intermittent ovulation and menses.  It’s not until you have a cessation of periods for more than a year that you are deemed to be in full menopause.  However, magnesium deficiency can occur at any age.  Many researchers have called it the miracle mineral or the anti-aging mineral because its effects are so widespread. Adequate magnesium supply gives you the best chance of staying younger longer with a better quality of life and health in your senior years.

Magnesium is the single most important mineral to the body, supporting and fuelling enzyme activity and co-factoring with other essential nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin D.  It is also the one most likely to be in short supply in modern industrialised societies.  This is because soils and our food supply have become magnesium depleted and we suffer way more from a multitude of stresses than ever before – particularly chemical stressors.  Stress causes excessive magnesium loss.  Generally, the older we get the lower the body’s magnesium ‘bank account’ gets.

If you are getting cramps and restless legs despite your blood tests not showing magnesium deficiency, here is why: Measuring magnesium in the blood serum is not indicative of tissue magnesium levels, as plasma contains less than one percent of magnesium ions, whereas bone and muscle tissue cells contain most of the other 99%.  You can have a normal magnesium plasma result, whilst muscle and bone tissue levels are deficient.

Post-menopausal women tend to experience a deterioration in bone strength and skeletal integrity. “Magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis directly by acting on crystal formation and on bone cells and indirectly by impacting on the secretion and the activity of parathyroid hormone and by promoting low grade inflammation.” [2]

Calcium leaches out of the bones and settles in the soft tissue and joints.  Low magnesium can lead to free calcium in the blood which settles and deposits on the endothelial arterial lining, hardening the arteries and causing cardiovascular disease.  Magnesium is a NATURAL calcium controller and calcium channel blocker. [1]

chest pain

We also need magnesium for healthy blood fluidity and blood pressure as it helps to balance electrolytes.  When your electrolytes (magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium) are in the right relationship to one another it means that you can hold the right amount of water in your cells and avoid dehydration. It means that your detoxification pathways can work better and you can eliminate waste products and toxins better.  It means that you can produce and conduct energy more efficiently. This energy supports enzymes to take out the garbage, as well as build new cells and repair DNA.

In fact, in a study by the University of Athens [3, 4], scientists found that low magnesium status itself is carcinogenic because we need magnesium to repair damaged DNA links.  The same study recommended to oncologists that they supplement their patients with extra magnesium because the radiation and chemotherapies cause excessive loss of magnesium.

No magnesium; no energy; no life.

overweight

Low magnesium also leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes [5] because the mitochondria must have vital magnesium to make ATP – adenosine triphosphate – the energy currency of the cell.  When magnesium is too low you are forced to switch from fat burning metabolism (aerobic) to sugar burning (anaerobic) which is much less efficient in producing ATPs and results in more acidic by-products leading to acidosis. Low magnesium equates to sugar sensitivity, low pH, dehydration, hypertension and insulin resistance. It gets harder and harder to keep the weight off. Conversely, an optimal magnesium status equates to more efficient energy production, cell hydration and alkalinity, and healthy weight.

Premature ageing is always marked by excessive weight gain (especially adipose tissue around the middle), exaggerated dehydration, hypercalcemia, joint stiffening, acidosis and inflammation.  In other words, getting overweight, dry and stiff with creaky and brittle bones before your time.

The lower the magnesium the more prone we become to hypertension as the blood gets thicker and the arterial linings get harder. As we need magnesium to synthesise collagen proteins and elastin fibres, which are the structures that hold us together as skin, bone, ligaments, sinew, smooth muscle walls in arteries etc, low magnesium means those structures lose their integrity. [6] blood

As oxygen and pH of cells drop, the hydration state in the cell also drops.   Low oxygen and low pH means low cell voltage, leading to a positive charge where blood cells start getting attracted and stuck together, rather than having a negative charge which allows them to bounce off one another and move freely in the fluidity of the blood’s zeta potential.  Magnesium is anti-thrombotic because it delivers electrons and has an anti-oxidant negative charge electrical effect.  Low magnesium leads to thrombosis and blood clotting.  [7].   Sufficient magnesium reverses these conditions.

Low oxygen states and acidosis (low pH) also promote the right condition for pathogenic invasion and proliferation.  In other words, the bugs move in to eat you for lunch. When the bugs move in you get inflammation and pain in various places and your immune system dips low.  You catch colds easily, get headaches and feel under the weather.  Magnesium however strengthens the immune system. [8]

One of the main reasons Grandma’s chicken and vegetable soup helps you recover more quickly from illness is because the soup brine contains a bunch of minerals (particularly magnesium and zinc) and gelatine from the bones, as well as healthy fats.  Sodium is also antagonistic to pathogens.  Seasonings of parsley, garlic, onions and ginger are also great herbal healers. These are the type of alkalising foods that feed our beneficial gut bacteria, which can overcome the toxin-producing bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Chicken soup

Soups are a great way to get nutrients without burdening the digestive system too much.  The older we get the less stomach acid we produce so we need more vegetable smoothies and paleo soups that partly digest the foods for us and make it easier to absorb the nutrients.  Age also brings with it a lessening production of sodium bicarbonate by the pancreas – which we need to help neutralise acids.  A big pinch of bicarb soda in water daily (not together with food of course) will help to buffer the acid by-products so the body can restore balance.

If you are not well or very stressed with pain and inflammation, the digestive system is likely not working optimally.  That’s why we don’t feel all that hungry when we are sick.  The body needs to ration the energy supply for the more important jobs – like driving the heart muscle and pumping blood, feeding the brain, moving lungs and healing.  You see?  Grandma knew!

When your hormones are out of balance in Menopause  – look out!  

During menopause (and even perimenopause) we can experience an undulating mixture of extremes of hyper-excitability, anger, frustration, stress explosions and irritations to uncontrollable sobbing or energy collapse into a heap on the lounge totally depressed and lacking of motivation to do anything.  But wait a minute:  Didn’t we hear that excessive levels of estrogen cause histrionic outbursts and symptoms of PMS?  Why does lowering estrogen then produce similar symptoms in menopause?
headache

These happen to be the symptoms of excessive phyto or synthetic chemical estrogen, which many people are exposed to these days because of so many soy product phytoestrogens in the food supply, as well as estrogen-mimicking chemicals in our environment. The pseudo estrogens prevent the body’s natural estrogen from attaching to cells.  Estrogen replacement therapy is not necessarily the answer. “ Women taking combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are 2.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users, and the risk may increase with longer use, a study published in the British Journal of Cancer has found.” BMJ 2016;354:i4612

Natural estrogen is actually protective of magnesium stores and helps to recycle and distribute magnesium more efficiently.  There is a very beneficial relationship with natural estrogen and magnesium.  This is why women in their child-bearing years are less prone to cardiovascular disease compared to men.  However this statistic changes after menopause as women lose the magnesium-conserving attributes of natural estrogen.  The increasing magnesium deficiency is the common culprit responsible for these symptoms.

Low magnesium is the fundamental link to hyper-excitability of muscles and inflammatory responses. When magnesium levels go down, stress hormone release goes up. [1]. “Magnesium is known to have a marked anti-adrenergic effect.  This is mediated by a variety of mechanisms, of which the most important is probably calcium antagonism.  Calcium plays a fundamental role in stimulus-response coupling of catecholamine release from the adrenal medulla and adrenergic nerve terminals, and its role in adrenal catecholamine release has been well described for more than 30 years.”

Researchers Drs Mildred Seelig and Andrea Rosanoff reported in their book The Magnesium Factor [9] that the lower the magnesium levels get, the more acute our stress responses.  In other words, we can go to pieces in response to the smallest provocation.  Low magnesium primes us for hyper-excitability, stress sensitivity and also inflammatory responses, metabolic syndrome and low energy depressive states.

It’s common to get adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism after chronic stress.  Magnesium acts like an antioxidant that helps us to recover from stress, so it’s important to replace what is lost under stress.

The effect of magnesium deficiency on the endocrine system is profound:  “Examinations of the sleep-electroencephalogram (EEG) and of endocrine systems point to the involvement of the limbic-hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical axis as magnesium affects all elements of this system. Magnesium has the property to suppress hippocampal kindling, to reduce the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and to affect adrenocortical sensitivity to ACTH. “ [10]

Magnesium is also essential for the synthesis of cholesterol [11], which is used to make DHEA – the head of the cascade of hormones from which estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones are made.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands. DHEA levels peak at about age 25, then go down steadily with age. DHEA levels drop to only 10 to 20% those in young adults by 70-80 years of age.  When magnesium and DHEA levels drop and if the thyroid is struggling and adrenals are overworked, premature ageing sets in.  Perimenopause can come too early, or menopause can have disastrous symptoms which manifest as restless legs, sleep disorders, excessive stress reactions and oversensitivity, hot flashes and profuse sweating, heart arrhythmia and dryness in various places, including the vagina, bowel and skin.  Bones also become dryer and more brittle and prone to breakage.

menopause hot flash

Magnesium is involved with production of melatonin (another hormone and powerful antioxidant) via the pineal gland, which regulates circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.  The older we get, the more plagued we become with sleep disorders.  A good sleep is absolutely essential for the brain to detoxify itself, as the melatonin produced by the pineal gland during deep sleep is a powerful antioxidant.  It cleans out the cobwebs overnight!

“Magnesium influences body temperature through its central sedative effect on the hypothalamus and downstream endocrine system, as well as via its effect of reducing neuromuscular excitability.” [1]

This presents a double whammy because if you have magnesium deficiency you are more likely to have excessive bouts of perspiration and hot flashes.  The more stressed you get from the hot flashes, lack of sleep and perspiration, the lower the magnesium levels get:  A ‘Catch-22’ situation because Magnesium is lowered during hyperthermia (excessive body temperature) due to stress, sweating and magnesium diuresis (kidney excretion).  Higher body temperatures lead to dehydration (unless you are keeping up by drinking enough water).  Dehydration leads to further stress and magnesium loss.  And down it keeps going.

What can we do to mitigate the effects of menopause?   To increase our youthfulness and stave off the effects of ageing?  The answer is simply good nutrition and plenty of fresh air, sunshine and exercise.
exercise

Magnesium-rich foods include seaweed, coconut, cacao, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and bone broth. Grains used to have much more magnesium than they do now and they have become very difficult to digest, leaving the body to turn them into unwanted fat.  So they are best to avoid unless you can get hold of high protein traditional grains, and to ferment or sprout them for enhanced digestibility.

It’s not easy to get enough quantity of magnesium without over-eating these foods in cases of high magnesium deficiency.

The auto-immune Paleo Diet is exceptionally good to manage gut disorders and a good place to start.

Saurkraut
Magnesium is easier to absorb from the bowel in the presence of fermented vegetables.

“It is concluded that sc-FOS feeding resulted in a significant increase in intestinal Mg absorption in postmenopausal women.” [12]

Magnesium supports our beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn assist digestion, inhibition of pathogenic bacteria, as well as the care of our gut lining to avoid leaky gut syndrome. Gut disorders, inflammatory bowel and gut dysbiosis have been associated with depression, anxiety and mental illness. [13]

It can take quite a while to restore optimum gut health. It happens one brick at a time – but at least it happens, so be persistent.  In the meantime, what do you do about replenishing magnesium stores?   Using transdermal magnesium takes a short cut via the skin.  You can go swimming in the ocean every day to absorb your magnesium, or enjoy a magnesium chloride bath or footsoak, or massage Magnesium Cream and/or Magnesium Oil into the skin.  Magnesium soaking allows for better detox as well as promotes a good night’s sleep.
Magnesium Bath Flakes

Magnesium Cream is a luxurious skin-reviving and protective formula that helps keep your skin looking younger longer and at the same time supplies a daily magnesium supplement far superior to tablets and powders.  Magnesium ions are easily absorbed this way and provide very fast relief from muscle tension, cramps and restless legs.  It’s also wonderfully calming and relaxing.  Magnesium is a Godsend!

Here is an email comment from a lady who works for a vascular surgeon at a major Sydney hospital who has used Elektra Magnesium Cream; “I haven’t had to use the progesterone cream in over two weeks to combat hot flushes as the cream seems to regulate the hormones.”
Magnesium Cream Menopause Magnesium Beauty

Another lady emailed after using it, “My menopausal symptoms have been very dramatically improved by the use of the product.  The night sweats have definitely been less bothersome, sometimes I am largely unaware of the ‘hot flush’ at all.   My sleep patterns have been much better, having very deep and relaxed sleep.”

These types of experiences are very common.  During my menopause years I also was able to alleviate my heart arrhythmia and other symptoms of hypothyroidism using transdermal magnesium.  You can use as much as you like to manage the symptoms without harmful side effects. It is just a way to feed the body via skin. The epidermis will hold onto the nutrients (magnesium, vitamins and lipids) as the body absorbs at its own self-regulating pace (if those nutrients are available).  Easy!

So take a chill pill by increasing your magnesium nutrition and discover that menopause is no big deal thanks to magnesium!

  SHOP LINK

REFERENCES:

  1. Fawcett, W.J., E.J. Haxby, and D.A. Male, Magnesium: physiology and pharmacology. BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, 1999. 83(2): p. 302-320.
  2. Castiglioni, S., et al., Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients, 2013. 5(8): p. 3022-33.
  3. Anastassopoulou, J. and T. Theophanides, Magnesium–DNA interactions and the possible relation of magnesium to carcinogenesis. Irradiation and free radicals. Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology. 42(1): p. 79-91.
  4. Park, H., et al., A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 2011. 19(6): p. 859-863.
  5. Barbagallo, M. and L.J. Dominguez, Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. World J Diabetes, 2015. 6(10): p. 1152-7.
  6. Senni, K., A. Foucault-Bertaud, and G. Godeau, Magnesium and connective tissue. Magnes Res, 2003. 16(1): p. 70-4.
  7. Maier, J.A.M., et al., Low magnesium promotes endothelial cell dysfunction: implications for atherosclerosis, inflammation and thrombosis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Basis of Disease, 2004. 1689(1): p. 13-21.
  8. Kubenam, K.S., The Role of Magnesium in Immunity. Journal of Nutritional Immunology, 1994. 2(3): p. 107-126.
  9. Seelig, M.S. and A. Rosanoff, The magnesium factor. 2003, New York: Avery.
  10. Murck, H., Magnesium and affective disorders. Nutr Neurosci, 2002. 5(6): p. 375-89.
  11. Rayssiguier, Y., E. Gueux, and D. Weiser, Effect of magnesium deficiency on lipid metabolism in rats fed a high carbohydrate diet. The Journal of nutrition, 1981. 111(11): p. 1876-1883.
  12. Tahiri, M., et al., Five-Week Intake of Short-Chain Fructo-Oligosaccharides Increases Intestinal Absorption and Status of Magnesium in Postmenopausal Women. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2001. 16(11): p. 2152-2160.
  13. Winther, G., et al., Dietary magnesium deficiency alters gut microbiota and leads to depressive-like behaviour. Acta Neuropsychiatr, 2015. 27(3): p. 168-76.

 BMJ 2016;354:i4612

By Sandy Sanderson © 2017 (Published in Masters of Health Magazine)  Menopause

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