Benefits of Magnesium for PCOS

Magnesium is a common supplement with good reason: There are numerous benefits of magnesium for people with PCOS.

Magnesium is an important mineral that most people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are significantly lacking in. Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely to have a magnesium deficiency, according to a study in Gynecology Endocrinology. This is concerning as magnesium has been shown to play a role in glucose, insulin, and blood pressure regulation. Individuals with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes have also shown to have low levels of magnesium. In fact, having low levels of magnesium increases your risk for having type 2 diabetes.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. One important function of magnesium is that it is an electrolyte which regulates heart contractions and water balance in the body. Magnesium is also a cofactor involved in hundreds of important reactions such as regulating glucose and insulin, transmitting nerve impulses, regulating temperature, liver detoxification, and it is even part of the formation of bones and teeth.

Here are just a few important functions of magnesium:

  • Acts as a co-factor or enzyme for chemical reactions in the body
  • Produces and transports energy
  • Helps with absorption and conversion of glucose into energy
  • Transmits nerve signals to and from the brain
  • Relaxes muscles to prevent twitching or spasms
  • Calms adrenal glands

Why Most People with PCOS are Lacking Magnesium

Research evaluating the nutrition habits of women with PCOS indicate 1 out of 4 women do not consume adequate amounts of magnesium from food. A study by Asemi et al. indicates women with PCOS consume an average of 233 mg/d of magnesium, which is below the RDA of 320 mg/d for women aged ≥19 y.

It’s not just people with PCOS who are deficient in magnesium. The World Health Organization estimates that 75% of Americans don’t meet the recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium. This is could be due to many factors including poor soil concentrations, abundance of processed and refined foods that are stripped of magnesium, lack of fruits and vegetables, stress, alcohol, certain medications (birth control pills), taking too high amounts of other nutrients (calcium, sodium, vitamin D and iron), and medical conditions such as insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, which may interfere with the utilization of magnesium. Eating a high protein diet, or too many foods that contain oxalic acid (found in spinach and chard), or phytic acid (found in seeds and grains) can affect the absorption of magnesium too. Additionally, the cooking and boiling of produce diminishes the magnesium content of food.

6 Important Benefits of Magnesium for People with PCOS:

PCOS headache

Prevents Migraines

Magnesium is a well-known treatment for headache and migraine pain. Magnesium works to relax blood vessels so they don’t narrow. In doing so, magnesium prevents small clots that contribute to migraine tension.


Magnesium PCOS pain relief

Acts as a Pain Reliever

A surprise to many people is that magnesium works as a pain reliever by reducing inflammation. I experienced first-hand what magnesium can do for pain. Suffering from a prolonged nagging tennis elbow (yes, from playing tennis!), a trainer at my gym recommended I give the magnesium cream MagNificent™ a try. Created by an anesthesiologist to reduce her back pain as an alternative to taking prescribed medications, MagNificent is a luxurious shea butter magnesium cream. Applying it to my elbow twice a day reduced the inflammation and pain in my elbow. Now I use it daily to maintain adequate magnesium levels and apply it to any aches or pains.  If you have acute or chronic pain, I highly recommend giving MagNificent a try!

Magnificent cream for PCOS



Provides PMS Relief

Magnesium is a safe and effective treatment for relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Magnesium supplementation of 250 mg daily has been shown to be helpful for lessening bloating, cravings, cramping and reducing anxiety and sleep disturbances associated with PMS. Chocolate is one of the most common foods women crave right before they start their periods. Chocolate is one of the highest food sources of magnesium. Coincidence?

Magnesium has also been shown to be effective for preventing or ameliorating headaches or migraines and preventing dysmenorrhea (heavy blood flow). For other natural treatments to treat PMS, check out our article, Natural Treatments for PMS When you have PCOS.

Improves Mood

Anxiety is common in women with PCOS. Having low levels of magnesium can actually be an underlying cause of anxiety. A review of 18 studies published in Nutrients, showed that magnesium does have a beneficial effect for people with anxiety. Many symptoms of anxiety such as apathy, anxious behavior, anger, nervousness, insomnia, rapid pulse, or heart palpitations may be reduced by supplementing with magnesium.  Magnesium works to calm the excitability of the nervous system to help reduce anxiety. Added bonus: Higher levels of magnesium can also help with sleep, which women with PCOS have difficulty with.

Magnesium can also help those suffering from depression. In a randomized trial published in PLOS One, adults who were given magnesium chloride (four 500 mg tablets of magnesium chloride daily for a total of 248 mg of elemental magnesium per day) for 6 weeks saw significant reductions in depressive symptoms, with noticeable changes in just 2 weeks!

Lowers Inflammation

A big benefit of magnesium for PCOS is its ability to lower inflammation. Women with PCOS were randomly assigned to take either 250 mg of magnesium oxide plus 220 mg of zinc sulfate (containing 50 mg zinc) supplements or placebo twice a day for 12 weeks. The Magnesium-Zinc group saw significantly beneficial effects on inflammation by lower serum hs-CRP and greater total antioxidant status.

Reduces Insulin Resistance

Individuals with insulin resistance and those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes tend to be lacking magnesium. One theory is that chronic insulin reduces magnesium levels. Magnesium is important to help glucose enter cells where it is used for energy. Part of its job in doing this is regulating the function and transport of insulin, which acts as a key to open the cell doors to glucose. Without enough magnesium, glucose doesn’t enter the cells in sufficient amounts. This can cause fatigue and difficulties regulating blood sugar. Sufficient levels of magnesium can therefore improve insulin resistance and reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.


Magnesium and high blood pressure

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a risk factor for heart disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be an effective treatment to reduce high blood pressure as well as other metabolic aspects in women with PCOS. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of magnesium.

The more magnesium in your cells, the more likely you are to have lower blood pressure. A review of 9 studies published in Nutrition Journal, found that as magnesium levels increase, blood pressure decreased. The researchers found that for each 100 mg/day increment in magnesium intake there was a 5% reduction in the risk of hypertension.

pcos quiz

How do I know if I am Deficient in Magnesium?

Magnesium status is difficult to assess because most magnesium is located inside cells or in bone and not in the blood. Therefore, there is no one good test to detect a magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include the following:

  • Muscle cramping, pain
  • Frequent headaches or migraine headaches
  • Mood changes like: anxiety, depression or irritability
  • Elevated blood Pressure
  • Insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome
  • Low energy level or chronically fatigued
  • Memory issues, difficulty focusing, problems maintaining attention.
  • Painful menstrual periods or severe PMS symptoms
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Brittle bones and development of stones
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Intense cravings for sweets, especially chocolate

magnesium for pcos

How Much Magnesium Do I Need?

The recommended amount for magnesium in adult women is 320 mg daily but this may not be sufficient for people with PCOS. Food sources such as chocolate, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains are good sources of magnesium, however, may provide insufficient amounts if you are deficient.

There are many types of magnesium in supplements. Magnesium bisglycinate and glycinate are best absorbed forms with less GI side effects. Magnesium aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride forms are absorbed more than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.

Magnesium is water soluble (extra amounts that the body doesn’t need will get eliminated through the urine) and toxicity is rare. Excessive consumption of magnesium (3 to 5 grams daily), can result in side effects such as diarrhea and dehydration and rarely, more serious issues such as hypotension, weakness, and confusion.

Do not take magnesium if you have a heart problem called “heart block” or any kidney problems or kidney failure. An upper limit (UL) of 350 mg/d from supplemented magnesium for women aged >14 y was established to reduce the risk of adverse reactions from excess intake.

Share with us! Have you seen a difference by supplementing with magnesium?

  1. Sharifi F, Mazloomi S, Hajihosseini R et al. Serum magnesium concentrations in polycystic ovary syndrome and its association with insulin resistance. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012;28(1):7-11.
  2. Quaranta S, Buscaglia MA, Meroni MG et al. Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Clin Drug Investig. 2007; 27(1):51-8.
  3. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety and stress-A systematic review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5).
  4. Srebro D. Magnesium in pain research: state of the art. Curr Med Chem. 2016.
  5. Muneyyirci-Delale O. Divalent cations in women with PCOS: implications for cardiovascular disease. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2001 Jun;15(3):198-201.
  6. Han H. Dose-response relationship between dietary magnesium intake, serum magnesium concentration and risk of hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutr J. 2017 May 5;16(1):26.
  7. Tarleton E, Littenberg B, MacLean C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLOS One. 2017: 1-15.
  8. Szczuko M. Quantitative assessment of nutrition in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) 2016; 67(4):419-426.
  9. Asemi Z, Esmaillzadeh A. DASH diet, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP in polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Horm Metab Res. 2015 Mar;47(3):232-8.
  10. Afshar The Effects of Magnesium and Zinc Co-Supplementation on Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress, and Gene Expression Related to Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2018 Aug;184(2):300-307.

pcos dietitian angela grassiAngela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN, is the founder of The PCOS Nutrition Center, for which she has been providing evidence-based nutrition information and coaching to people with PCOS for over 20 years. Angela is the author of several books on PCOS, including PCOS: The Dietitian’s Guide, The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health, and The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook. Angela is the past recipient of The Outstanding Nutrition Entrepreneur Award, The Award in Excellence in Practice in Women’s Health, and The Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Having PCOS herself, Angela has been dedicated to advocacy, education, and research of the syndrome.

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Comments (7)
  • Marie

    August 13, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Magnesium changed quality of life. For years I had debilitating painful menstrual cycles to the point where I couldn’t get up and do anything for a week every single month. Doctors were no help. Had tried just about anything with no luck and one day I read an article about magnesium and decided to give it a try as it was really the last option and it worked! Didn’t start noticing improvement until a month of supplementing so patience is important. But I went from terrible debilitating pain among other horrible symptoms to no cramps at all. It’s amazing.

  • Angela Grassi

    August 20, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Great to hear!

  • Lindsay

    February 20, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Hi there,

    Will the concentration of magnesium in the new PCOS Multi have a laxative effect?


  • Angela Grassi

    February 22, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    No it is chelated and should be well tolerated at the dose on the bottle.

  • Christine Thornton

    July 4, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    I’ve been taking magnesium citrate for a number of years for PCOS. I’m taking 2tabs evening and 1tab morning, a total of 450mg daily. I walk daily and recently I’ve started getting cramp in my legs during the night.
    Should I increase magnesium to 2tabs in the morning or add more magnesium rich foods to my diet eg almonds etc
    Health wise I’m very good, sleeping well etc.
    Would appreciate your advice on this matter as I don’t want to overdose on magnesium.

    PS I take metformin 500mg BD for PCOS/pre diabetes. Age 72 years

  • Angela Grassi

    July 26, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    Hmmm..there could be other nutrients that affect leg cramps. I would consult your doctor.

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