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Magnesium is an important mineral in the human body (1).

It influences mood regulation, supports healthy bones and hormone levels, and is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions throughout your body (1).

What’s more, as women reach older adulthood and experience menopause, magnesium becomes particularly important for good health and may even help reduce menopause symptoms.

This article tells you all you need to know about magnesium and menopause, including its benefits, side effects, and ways to get it in your diet.

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that occurs at the age of 51–52, on average, though it can occur many years before or after (2).

It’s characterized by a loss of menstruation along with other symptoms, such as hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, decrease in bone and muscle mass, and changes in hormones — namely estrogen and progesterone (3, 4, 5, 6).

Because of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight along with strong bones and muscles, it’s important to address these issues early on in menopause.

Summary

Menopause occurs when a woman has experienced their last period and usually occurs between 51–52 years of age. Common side effects include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and weakened bones.

Approximately 60% of your magnesium is stored in your bone and plays a crucial role in preventing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — defined as low bone mineral density — affects between 10–30% of postmenopausal women and increases with age (7, 8, 9, 10).

Bones undergo a natural remodeling process known as osteogenesis to strengthen themselves. During this stage, bones are broken down by osteoclasts and then rebuilt by osteoblasts. For young people, bones are rebuilt faster and more effectively (2).

During menopause, estrogen levels decline, leading to a spike in osteoclast activity (bone loss). As a result, bones are being broken down at a faster rate than they’re being rebuilt, leading to weakened, porous bones (2).

Magnesium deficiency is highly associated with osteoporosis due to its important role in cartilage and bone matrix calcification, or increased bone strength. It’s also linked to lower activity of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamin D, both of which are crucial for bone development (7).

What’s more, low magnesium appears to decrease osteoblast activity and increase inflammation, making bones weaker over time (7).

One short-term study in 20 women with osteoporosis found that supplementing with 1,830 mg of magnesium citrate — an equivalent of 290 mg of elemental magnesium — per day for 30 days led to decreased bone turnover, which suggests a decrease in bone loss (11).

Elemental magnesium is the actual amount of magnesium in a supplement. Most supplement containers list the weight of the supplement, such as 1,000 mg, which includes all ingredients. Look for “elemental magnesium” on the nutrition label to know how much you’re getting.

In a 7-year follow-up study in 73,684 postmenopausal women, a high intake of 334–422 mg or greater of magnesium from food or supplements was associated with greater bone mineral density (12).

Since magnesium plays a key role in bone health, ensuring adequate magnesium levels may slow the rate of bone loss.

Summary

Approximately 10–30% of postmenopausal women experience osteoporosis, a gradual decline in bone density. High magnesium intake through food and supplements may decrease the progression of osteoporosis and support bone health.

Though magnesium has not been shown to reduce hot flashes, it may help decrease other common menopause symptoms.

May improve sleep

Up to 60% of menopausal women experience insomnia or difficulty sleeping. Compared with premenopausal women, those transitioning through menopause, known as perimenopause, report significantly higher rates of poor sleep — in particular, waking up throughout the night (6, 13).

Hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, and a decrease in melatonin and progesterone, two hormones that have sleep-promoting effects, appear to be the main causes of menopausal insomnia (6, 13, 14, 15).

Lack of sleep is connected to an array of coexisting conditions related to menopause, such as irritability, depression, stress, and weight gain (6).

Magnesium may promote sleep by regulating your body’s circadian rhythms, known as the body’s natural clock, and increasing muscle relaxation. Furthermore, low magnesium intake is associated with fewer hours of sleep and overall lower sleep quality (16, 17).

One small study in 46 older adults found that supplementing with 500 mg of magnesium — an equivalent of 250 mg elemental magnesium — daily led to a significant increase in sleep duration, sleep quality, and melatonin production, while no improvements were seen in the control group (18).

Still, more robust research is needed.

May lower your risk of depression and anxiety

Depression is a common symptom among perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Though it’s related to many factors, ensuring adequate magnesium levels may alleviate depressive symptoms (19, 20).

Magnesium plays a key role in brain function, mood regulation, and stress response, which may affect the progression and onset of depression and anxiety (20, 21).

Various studies have connected low magnesium levels to higher rates of depression. In one study in 8,984 participants, those with low levels of magnesium of less than 183 mg per day had higher rates of depression (20, 21).

In a study in 171 postmenopausal women, 81.9% of participants had low blood levels of magnesium. What’s more, those with low magnesium were also more likely to report low to moderate levels of depression (22).

Furthermore, some research has found a link between magnesium deficiency and increased anxiety (23).

Finally, older adults are at an increased risk of magnesium deficiency. Therefore, as a woman ages, it’s particularly important to get enough magnesium through diet or a supplement (24).

Though promising, most researchers agree that more research is needed (25).

Supports heart health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in postmenopausal women (26, 27).

Though menopause does not cause heart disease, postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, triglycerides, and levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol due to factors like decreased levels of estrogen, stress, age, and poor lifestyle habits (27).

What’s more, lower levels of magnesium are linked to poor heart health. In one study in 3,713 postmenopausal women, high magnesium levels were associated with lower inflammatory markers related to heart disease, indicating better heart health (28, 29).

Magnesium helps control heart muscle contractions and nerve impulses, allowing for a healthy heartbeat. What’s more, magnesium-rich foods are a significant source of antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, and fiber, all of which benefit heart health (30).

Considering that postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of low magnesium levels, it’s important for women to pay attention to this mineral to support their heart health. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before starting a magnesium supplement (28).

Summary

Magnesium from food and supplements may help reduce common symptoms of menopause, such as difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety, and heart disease risk.

Magnesium is essential for good health and safe to consume from both food and supplements. It’s recommended that adult women get 320 mg of magnesium per day from food or a supplement (31).

For most people, excess magnesium intake from food does not pose a serious threat to health, as your body can excrete any excess through urine. This is due to your body’s tight regulation of magnesium when levels get too high or too low (1, 31).

Diarrhea and stomach upset are common side effects when magnesium supplements are consumed in excess (32).

Though rare for healthy people, magnesium toxicity can occur in those with reduced kidney function and cause heart irregularities, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, and kidney failure (33).

Those who wish to try a magnesium supplement should consult their healthcare provider first.

Summary

Magnesium from food and supplements is considered safe for most people and toxicity is rare. However, if you have reduced kidney function or other health issues, speak with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s right for you.

Magnesium is found in many foods and supplements.

Food sources

Magnesium is found in many foods, making it easy to incorporate it into your diet. Foods high in magnesium include (34):

  • almonds
  • avocado
  • bananas
  • beans (black, red, white)
  • broccoli
  • cashews
  • dark chocolate
  • fish, such as halibut, mackerel, and salmon
  • leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard
  • nuts, such as almonds or cashews
  • oatmeal
  • seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower
  • soybeans
  • tofu
  • whole grains, including breads, pastas, or brown rice

Despite the many magnesium-rich foods available, most people do not get enough magnesium through diet. This is mostly due to the reliance of overly-processed foods and a lower intake of beans, lentils, vegetables, and whole grains (34).

To support your health as you age, be sure to get enough magnesium-rich foods in your diet.

Supplements

Magnesium supplements are available over the counter or online.

There are many forms of magnesium, such as magnesium aspartate, carbonate, citrate, glycinate, lactate, malate, and orotate. It’s also common to see magnesium paired with calcium, another important mineral for bone health (34).

Magnesium aspartate, citrate, chloride, and malate are known for being the most bioavailable — or best absorbed — in the body to replenish magnesium levels. Still, your healthcare provider may suggest other types depending on your specific needs (35).

Moreover, most multivitamins, which are generally recommended for women over the age of 50 years, contain magnesium to help you meet your daily magnesium needs.

Though generally safe, if you’re unsure whether a magnesium supplement is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider.

Summary

Magnesium is found in many foods, such as dark chocolate, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. It’s also available as an individual supplement, paired with calcium, or in a multivitamin.

Magnesium plays a vital role in health throughout all life stages.

During menopause, it’s important for keeping bones strong and preventing osteoporosis, or weakening of bones. Magnesium may also reduce unwanted side effects of menopause, such as difficulty sleeping and depression while supporting heart health.

Most menopausal women have inadequate magnesium levels, putting them at greater risk of poor health. However, magnesium can be consumed through many foods, such as dark chocolate, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains.

You can also easily find magnesium supplements over the counter or online. For most people, they’re considered safe for use, but be sure to consult your healthcare provider first.

Getting enough magnesium each day is important for your overall health and may reduce unwanted symptoms of menopause.

Shop for a magnesium supplement online.