Magnesium for PCOS: Weight Loss, Better Sleep + Stress Relief

Learn the science-backed benefits and recommended dosage of magnesium for PCOS.

If you have PCOS, chances are you’re lacking magnesium.

Magnesium plays an important role in many metabolic processes, including insulin sensitivity. It's also helpful in regulating hormones like testosterone.

U‍nfortunately, many women with polycystic ovary syndrome have a magnesium deficiency, reports the Current Development in Nutrition journal. Moreover, another study found women with PCOS often consumed a low-magnesium diet. ‍If you don't get enough magnesium, you may develop anxiety, acne, poor sleep, and insulin resistance.

In sum, if you have PCOS you need to pay extra attention to your magnesium intake.

The good news is research shows taking magnesium supplements is helpful for improving PCOS symptoms, such as weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth. 

Incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diet is a good place to start. Foods rich in magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and dark chocolate (yay!). But a supplement might be another way to boost your magnesium levels.

Below, we dive into the benefits of magnesium for PCOS, the right dosage, and the best magnesium for PCOS.

Is magnesium good for PCOS?

Women with PCOS are more likely to experience a magnesium deficiency. Supplementing with magnesium can help regulate insulin levels, boost weight loss, and improve sleep quality. Furthermore, magnesium may also help to improve PCOS symptoms such as acne and hirsutism. 

A meta-analysis published in BMC Medicine journal found magnesium may also help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, which are all higher in women with PCOS.

Another review of the research published in the 2022 Metabolites journal suggests magnesium supplements may ease PCOS symptoms by improving blood sugar levels, reducing androgens (male hormones), and suppressing inflammation. 

On the other hand, a magnesium deficiency can lead to a variety of health issues, such as fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, anxiety, and even depression. 

Something to note here, though: one systematic review, published in the 2022 Frontiers of Endocrinology, found magnesium worked best when used alongside other supplements, like vitamin D and zinc.

If you’re looking for an easy and natural way to get relief from your PCOS symptoms, consider adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet or taking a magnesium supplement.  Foods such as dark leafy greens, fish, nuts, and whole grains all contain magnesium. 

Consult with your doctor if you're thinking about adding magnesium to your PCOS treatment plan. Magnesium supplements can interact with antibiotics and other supplements.‍

Magnesium for PCOS: 5 research-backed benefits

Magnesium’s been used as a natural remedy for centuries and is one of the most widely studied supplements. ‍

Below, we examine the science supporting its benefits.

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1. Boosts emotional well-being and mental health

Increasing your magnesium intake may provide relief from anxiety and other mental health issues, according to the Nutrients journal.  Conversely, research connects a magnesium deficiency to a higher risk of mental health disorders. A lack of magnesium is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health

And if you have PCOS, magnesium is even more important. PCOS is associated with an increased rate of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. 

A study of 64 women with PCOS found that magnesium supplementation led to better emotional well-being and mental health. The study found magnesium supplementation also led to better overall health and energy levels.

One of the reasons magnesium may improve mental health is because it reduces inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is believed to play a role in the development of several mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.

Remember to seek professional help if you’re struggling with mental health. One of the best things I did for my mental help was get therapy. I started seeing a therapist during the COVID-19 lockdown, and I developed coping strategies to deal with my issues.

2. Improves insulin sensitivity 

Studies suggest magnesium is beneficial for regulating insulin levels in women with PCOS. Low levels of magnesium are associated with insulin resistance, a common feature of PCOS.

Researchers are paying more attention to the link between insulin resistance, magnesium, and PCOS. A clinical trial published in the Frontiers in Endocrinology found low magnesium levels were associated with insulin resistance among women with PCOS. The trial involved 1 000 PCOS patients.

And while a lack of magnesium may worsen insulin resistance, the mineral has an “insulin-sensitizing effect” reports the Current Developments in Nutrition journal.

There’s a strong case for using magnesium in conjunction with other supplements to improve insulin sensitivity. In a clinical trial involving 84 women, participants had lower levels of insulin after taking magnesium and melatonin. Researchers published their findings in the Nutrition and Metabolism journal. The study specifically calls out both supplements’ anti-inflammatory properties.

Another review of a set of randomized trials found that magnesium, when combined with other supplements including zinc and vitamin D, improved insulin levels.


3. Reduces body mass index 

Magnesium supplementation may reduce body mass index, according to a study published in the 2020 Biological Trace Element Research

To compare the effects of magnesium on PCOS, researchers divided a group of women in two. One group received a magnesium supplement and the other took a placebo. After eight weeks, the magnesium group had a lower BMI. Plus, researchers found magnesium may help to control an increase in waist circumference.

These findings track with the outcomes of other studies without a PCOS focus. According to a meta-analysis published in  Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, magnesium reduced body weight and BMI among people who had insulin resistance or a magnesium deficiency.   

4. Promotes better sleep

While magnesium’s role as an effective sleep aid is still under review, many studies suggest supplementing with magnesium can improve sleep for just about anyone. 

This is especially important if you have PCOS. People with PCOS have higher rates of sleep disorders, according to the Nature of Science and Sleep journal.

One study published in the Nutrition and Metabolism journal found women with PCOS had better sleep after taking magnesium and melatonin for 8 weeks. Before the trial, the women completed the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index, a self-reported questionnaire that measures sleep quality. Lower scores mean better sleep quality. Researchers found:

“After intervention, the mean Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index score decreased significantly in both co-supplementation and melatonin groups.” 

My husband swears by magnesium as a sleep remedy. I find it's been effective, and I've suffered through several periods of insomnia. I've noticed an improvement in my sleep when I consume magnesium regularly. It's become one of my favourite natural remedies for better sleep, and I recommend giving it a go.

5. May improve acne

Evidence for magnesium improving acne isn’t clear, but there is some research to support potential benefits.

One trial in the Journal of Dietary Supplements examined magnesium’s role in clearing up adolescent acne. In addition to magnesium, one group of trial participants took phosphate, omega 6, and omega 7. The other group took isotretinoin, also known as Roaccutane. Of the magnesium group, 100% reported “complete regression of symptoms after 6 months of treatment.” In the isotretinoin group, however, only 68% reported that their acne has stopped.

Older studies show a magnesium deficiency might worsen acne, finding that co-supplementing with myoinositol can improve acne.

‍Looking specifically at magnesium and acne in women with PCOS, a 2022 study reports mixed results.  Researchers pointed to trials where magnesium was used in conjunction with other treatments, like a topical antibiotic. In another, patients took a magnesium-containing medication. These studies indicated a link between magnesium and a reduction in acne. 

‍However, since other supplements were also used, researchers said that it wasn’t clear that magnesium alone was responsible for the outcome.

6. Reduces excess hair

Excess body hair, also known as hirsutism, is a common - and frequently distressing - PCOS symptom. 

A recent study shows magnesium might be an effective treatment. A study published in the Biological Trace Element Research journal suggests vitamin E and magnesium reduced hirsutism.  Researchers believe these supplements reduce oxidative stress and inflammation among people with PCOS.

A large number of clinical trials link oxidative stress and chronic inflammation with several PCOS symptoms, including insulin resistance and excess androgens.

However, another study found magnesium had “no beneficial effects” on androgen levels and researchers called for more research.

7. Reduce period pain

Magnesium has been shown to reduce period pain.

A study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health and Reproduction Sciences suggests magnesium can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps and associated symptoms, such as headache and abdominal pain. One theory is that magnesium may help by contracting and relaxing muscles in the uterus. This is why magnesium supplementation is often recommended for women who suffer from menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms.

In addition to reducing period pain, magnesium can also help with overall reproductive health. It helps with hormone regulation and can even reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. For example, some studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

8. Prevents migraines

Though it's tricky to pinpoint the exact cause of migraines, they're believed to be the result of abnormal brain activity. Research, published in the Biological Trace Element Research, suggests a link between a magnesium deficiency and migraines.

Magnesium may reduce the intensity and frequency of migraines in some people, according to an analysis published in the Nutrients journal,

One way magnesium may help with migraines is that it may block pain transmitting chemicals, explains the American Migraine Foundation

9. Provides stress relief

It's believed magnesium supplementation may help reduce stress.

A research review shows magnesium plays a role in curbing levels of  the stress hormone cortisol  in our bodies. This is especially relevant if you have polycystic ovary syndrome - women with PCOS have raised cortisol levels.

Elevated cortisol levels are linked with PCOS belly fat and slowed metabolism.

‍As an anti-anxiety treatment, my doctor prescribed a combination supplement that included magnesium malate, taurine, and myo inositol.

10. Prevents high blood pressure

Research has connected magnesium intake with lower blood pressure. In one meta-analysis researchers found supplementing with magnesium for one month may lead to increased serum magnesium levels and lower blood pressure.

And that's another benefit especially if you have PCOS. Research shows women with PCOS are at an increased risk of high blood pressure.

How much magnesium should you take for PCOS

Getting enough magnesium is vital, but too much can lead to unwanted side effects.

‍A team of researchers for the Metabolites journal found magnesium supplements could cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting:

“Hypermagnesemia is likely to occur with a dose several times higher than the Upper Intake Level (UL). The tolerable UL of magnesium is 350 mg/d.”

Currently, the recommended daily allowance for women is between 310 to 320 Mg, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Before starting with a magnesium supplement, speak with your healthcare provider. Get your levels tested and find the right dosage for your unique health needs. 

The best magnesium for PCOS

The best magnesium is one that’s easily absorbed. 

An animal study published in Biological Trace Element Research found that different types of magnesium are absorbed at different rates. Researchers looked at the following types of magnesium:

  • Magnesium sulfate 
  • Magnesium oxide 
  • Magnesium acetyl taurate 
  • Magnesium citrate 
  • Magnesium malate‍

Their conclusion was this:‍

“The commonly prescribed dietary supplements magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate had the lowest bioavailability when compared to our control group.”

On the other hand, magnesium acetyl taurate and magnesium malate had the highest bioavailability. This suggests that these two types of magnesium are more easily absorbed by the body than the others. Researchers concluded that further investigation was needed. 

Some research suggests that magnesium glycinate is more easily absorbed.‍ Other research finds magnesium citrate is more absorbable than magnesium oxide and sulfate, notes the National Institutes of Health. For those looking to supplement their diets with magnesium, supplements that contain these more absorbable forms of magnesium might be a better choice. 

To improve magnesium absorption, Medical News Today recommends treating a vitamin D deficiency, stopping smoking, and eating vegetables raw.

You'll also want to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Think dark leafy greens, nuts, poultry, and whole grains. 

Here are some good sources of magnesium:‍

  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Brown rice
  • Salmon
  • Avocado 
  • Chicken breast
  • Carrots 

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help you up your magnesium intake.

Add magnesium to your PCOS treatment plan

Magnesium is an essential mineral for hormone balance and women’s health, but it’s not easy to maintain your magnesium levels when you’re living with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Speak with your healthcare professional about using magnesium to manage your PCOS symptoms. In addition to magnesium supplementation, remember to prioritise diet, stress management, and exercise to ease your PCOS.