Does Taking Magnesium Really Help With Period Cramps?

Ahh, periods. Mother nature's gift to women. Hardly. Having to go about your day — business as usual — with extreme fatigue, uncomfortable bloating, nausea, and – oh! the cramps – can be pretty brutal. But you wouldn't necessarily think so watching the commercials for menstrual products, with women smiling, skipping through meadows. A more realistic portrayal of a woman on her period might be her looking tired, slightly agitated, and powering through the day as quickly as possible so she can curl up in bed with a heating pad. Unfortunately, period cramps often are not given due attention because they're so common.

If you suffer from menstrual cramps, more than likely you've tried the whole gamut of at-home and over-the-counter remedies to ease the pain –- ibuprofen, herbal teas, bath soaks, heating pad. But as of late, one magical mineral seems to have taken the spotlight, when it comes to helping period cramps. Dr. Lara Briden, a naturopathic doctor, and author of Period Repair Manual, told Well + Good that magnesium is the key to easier periods. 

How can magnesium help with your menstrual cramps?

First things first, Medical News Today says that magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in our bodies. It's well known for supporting muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure, aiding in sleep, and supporting the immune system. Now, easing period cramps can be added to that list of health benefits. 

According to naturopathic doctor Lara Briden, via Well+Good, two-thirds of Americans have a magnesium deficiency, and a deficiency in women can cause contractions in the body's smooth muscles and an increase in the inflammatory compounds that create period pain. A study published in the International Journal of Women's Health and Reproduction Sciences found that a 300mg dose of magnesium is effective in reducing the severity of cramps. As an added bonus, magnesium also has nervine properties, which means it calms the nervous system, which can help with period-related mood symptoms (per Well+Good).

How to get a little bit more magnesium

If you think a little more magnesium is what you need to calm killer cramps, there are a few quick and painless ways to go about it. Magnesium supplements are almost always stocked in the vitamin aisle of your local drugstore (remember 300mg for cramps). If you think you might benefit from a daily magnesium supplement, Healthline says it's generally considered safe to do so, but as always, it's best to consult with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your daily repertoire.

Experts say that the best way to get essential nutrients is through your diet. Foods high in magnesium include leafy greens, almonds, cashews and brazil nuts, as well as legumes, avocados, pumpkin and chia seeds and whole grains like wheat, oat, and barley. If seafood is in your diet, fatty fishes are a good option and if not, tofu can be used to kick your magnesium levels up a notch, too (per Healthline)