Benefits of magnesium for endometriosis

byHeather Jacobsen May 11, 2022 Comments0

Benefits of magnesium for endometriosis

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body (after calcium, potassium and sodium) and the second most intracellular mineral. That is, inside the regular cells of muscles, bones, and soft tissues (rather than serum and red blood cells).1 Because of its abundance in the body, magnesium plays a role in over 300 biochemical processes—from energy production, blood pressure regulation, and DNA and protein synthesis, to insulin metabolism, muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and normal heart rhythm.2 Its so important for the functioning of your body, as well as your well-being, that entire books have been written about it. But are there any benefits of magnesium for endometriosis and/or adenomyosis?

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is considered widespread. One study found that almost half of the US population “consumed less than the required amount of magnesium.”3 Another “found that 10 out of 11 apparently healthy women were magnesium-deficient,”4 and Goldsmith et. al5 found that magnesium concentrations are already significantly lower in “normal” (i.e. non-contraceptive taking) women during ovulation, but become even more so in women who do take contraceptives.

But if magnesium is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, why are so many deficient in it? One reason may be the loss of magnesium, along with other minerals, in the soils of today’s large-scale cropsanother reason why to eat organic. Also, the Standard American Diet is high in refined and processed foods, which contain little nutrients. Even soft drinks, high in phosphorus, can effect the body’s ability to use magnesium.4 6

Other causes of magnesium deficiency include alcohol consumption, some medications such as proton pump inhibitors, supplementing with calcium or over supplementing with Vitamin D, and certain diseases such as kidney failure, metabolic syndrome, and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Because magnesium is absorbed in the small intestine and stored in the colon, damage or surgery to the intestine or colon can cause magnesium deficiency.4 7 Likewise, diseases of the intestinal tract and colon, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, gastroenteritis, idiopathic steatorrhoea, and ulcerative colitis may also cause magnesium deficiency.

You are also at risk of magnesium deficiency if you eat a gluten-free diet (which I recommend for women with endo), since wheat is fairly high in magnesium and those who do eat wheat, eat it on a regular basis. Similarly, if you’re on a low FODMAPs diet (which some endo ladies with gut issues are), you might be decreasing your magnesium intake as well.6 But don’t worry, there are plenty of other foods that contain magnesium (see below).

Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is often overlooked by most doctors, because its symptoms are not overt (called “subclinical”), the way scurvy from severe lack of Vitamin C is, or goiter from iodine deficiency. So it isn’t easy to just give a list of symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

However, many diseases and disorders have been associated with it, and it follows that supplementing with magnesium may improve them. Indeed, Gröber et al.8 have shown that magnesium plays “an important role in prevention and treatment of many” diseases and disorders, including the ones mentioned above, as well as these:

Alzheimer’s diseaseleg cramps
hypertensionbruxism/TMJ (jaw clenching or teeth gnashing)
cardiovascular disease (e.g., stroke)restless legs syndrome
migraineshearing loss
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)male infertility
colon canceratherosclerotic vascular disease
chronic fatigue syndromesudden cardiac death
kidney stonesosteoporosis
Diseases and Disorders Alleviated by Magnesium
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

What About Benefits of Magnesium for Endometriosis?

The reason why its related to so many chronic diseases is because magnesium deficiency elicits an inflammatory response.3 10 And inflammation is at the heart of what’s going on in endometriosis, too. I talk about this both in my post on The Link Between Endometriosis and Stress, as well as Is Endometriosis an Autoimmune Disease?

But in a meta-analysis by Simental-Mendia et al.25 magnesium was found to reduce C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) in people with inflammatory conditions.

While some people who don’t have it, have unfairly likened endometriosis to “just bad PMS,” it is interesting to note that premenstrual syndrome has also been associated with magnesium deficiency.26 27 And supplementing with magnesium was shown to significantly ease premenstrual syndrome—specifically water retention and pain,28 29 30 as well as anxiety (even more so if taken with vitamin B6).31 32

So while we all know that endo is worse than PMS, if magnesium can help PMS, couldn’t it also help endo? Indeed, magnesium deficiency has also been associated with endometriosis, which is thought to be a probable cause of the gastrointestinal disorders, food intolerances and allergies that many endo women experience.33 And supplementing with magnesium has been shown to be effective in women with dysmenorrhea,34 35 a common symptom of endometriosis.

Finally, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is a protein found to be elevated in gynecological diseases such as endometriosis, as well as ovarian and endometrial cancers, and it’s been suggested as a biomarker of these diseases. But Hoşgörler et al.,36 found that VEGF decreases in uterine tissue in rats, after magnesium use. They state that magnesium “may protect the uterine tissue” from endometriosis and cancer.

Because magnesium is a muscle relaxant, it can not only help with stress, anxiety and easing pain, as well as insomnia, it can also stabilize moods, even preventing depression—all benefits for women with endometriosis and/or adenomyosis.

Magnesium can also help enzyme activity and stomach acid production, improving digestion, which is helpful for women with endometriosis, who, as already mentioned, often experience “debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms.”37 And magnesium also helps the bowels move—especially important if you’re trying to move estrogen out of your system.

In short the benefits of magnesium for endometriosis, specifically, include:

decrease inflammationrelax muscles
improve sleep qualitystablize moods
decrease stress and anxietyprevent depression
ease painprotect uterine tissue
improve digestionkeep the bowels moving
decrease water retention
Benefits of Magnesium for Endometriosis


Sources of Magnesium

Ideally, as with all nutrients, its best if we can get magnesium from whole food sources, because the body assimilates them better that way. The best sources of magnesium that fit the endometriosis diet include nuts (especially almonds) and seeds, as well as avocados, bananas, dark chocolate 😋, green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach), sweet potatoes and prunes (hence the reason old people love to drink its juice!). Of course, it would be best that these food sources are organic and grown in nutrient-rich soils.

Seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, halibut and mackerel also contain magnesium, as do beef and chicken. Check out this list for more whole foods high in magnesium, or see where your favorite foods fall on this more comprehensive list by the USDA.

But if you have a compromised gut, have malabsorption issues, and/or are magnesium deficient (as most of us with endo are), you may also want to supplement with magnesium. There all kinds of magnesium formulations out there, but the general consensus is that the two best are magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate.

Magnesium glycinate contains glycine, which, according to Dr. Axe, “is known for having calming qualities,” enhancing the already-calming effects of magnesium. Because it is chelated, it’s considered one of the most effective types of magnesium, able to be absorbed through the intestinal wall. It’s also more easily tolerated, so it doesn’t usually cause loose stools.

On the other hand, if you are someone who struggles with constipation, magnesium citrate is another good, option, and its still more soluble and bioavailable than magnesium oxide38—the least preferred of most of the magnesium formulations.

There are other types of magnesium formulations you could consider for specific situations, as well. Magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) is great for soothing sore muscles in the bath (and possibly so much more). And magnesium chloride is an oily form of magnesium you can spray directly onto sore muscles, although the jury’s still out on whether this transdermal application of magnesium actually works.39 Here’s a good article on even more types of magnesium formulations.

How Much Magnesium Should I Take?

Its generally recommended that you supplement with at least 300 – 420 mg of magnesium per day. However, some believe this is a lower threshold and recommend taking doses as high as 400-500 mg, especially for anxiety and sleeplessness.40 Others even propose up to 600 mg per day, especially if you aren’t getting enough from food sources, or you’re just starting magnesium supplementation. In fact, investigations of macro- and micro-nutrients in Paleolithic nutrition of former hunter/gatherer societies “showed a magnesium uptake with the usual diet of about 600 mg” of magnesium per day. “Much higher than today.”4

Is it Possible to Get Too Much Magnesium?

Because the kidneys are able to excrete nearly 100% of magnesium, hypermagnesemia (too much magnesium in the body) is uncommon and usually only occurs in people with renal insufficiency or poor kidney function. Or, of course, taking excessive doses of it.41

However, as with all supplements, monitor your symptoms for any changes, after adding it to your routine. If you experience diarrhea, cramping or other digestive distress, you may be taking too much.

Excessive amounts of magnesium could cause vomiting, neurological impairment (confusion), hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure), flushing, headache, heart problems/irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and even shock.42 But again, these are rare symptoms, and unless you have kidney disease or super low blood pressure, magnesium should be safe for you.*

With all the benefits magnesium has to offer, and the likelihood that you’re among the many others who are magnesium deficient, I recommend you start sooner than later. You may be surprised by how much better you feel with more magnesium in your life.


note: I use affiliate links on this page, but any income generated by them supports The Alliance for Natural Health and the Women in Balance Institute.

* There is also some mention that hypermagnesemia could be caused by hypothyroidism, but I only found two articles in PubMed that mention this, and they were both Japanese (which I don’t speak!). So if anyone reading this knows more about this association, please make a comment below. Although I was originally diagnosed with Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism), after the doctor irradiated my thyroid, I became permanently hypothyroid. But I have always needed to supplement with magnesium, so for me there is no connection. I wonder if it could do with certain medications taken for hypothyroidism? Compounded, without fillers, is the best thyroid replacement, in case you’re wondering.

  1. Jahnen-Dechent W, Ketteler M. Magnesium basics. Clin Kidney J. 2012;5(Suppl 1):i3-i14. doi:10.1093/ndtplus/sfr163[]
  2. “Magnesium.” Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institutes of Health.[]
  3. Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15. PMID: 22364157.[][]
  4. DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis [published correction appears in Open Heart. 2018 Apr 5;5(1):e000668corr1]. Open Heart. 2018;5(1):e000668. Published 2018 Jan 13. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668[][][][]
  5. Goldsmith NF, Pace N, Baumberger JP, Ury H. Magnesium and citrate during the menstrual cycle: effect of an oral contraceptive on serum magnesium. Fertil Steril. 1970 Apr;21(4):292-300. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)37444-1. PMID: 5508498[]
  6. Fiorentini D, Cappadone C, Farruggia G, Prata C. Magnesium: Biochemistry, Nutrition, Detection, and Social Impact of Diseases Linked to Its Deficiency. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 30;13(4):1136. doi: 10.3390/nu13041136. PMID: 33808247; PMCID: PMC8065437[][]
  7. Wacker WE, Parisi AF. Magnesium metabolism. N Engl J Med. 1968 Mar 21;278(12):658-63. doi: 10.1056/NEJM196803212781205. PMID: 4866353[]
  8. Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):8199-8226. Published 2015 Sep 23. doi:10.3390/nu7095388[]
  9. Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15. PMID: 22364157[]
  10. Nielsen FH. Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives. J Inflamm Res. 2018;11:25-34. Published 2018 Jan 18. doi:10.2147/JIR.S136742[][]
  11. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutr J. 2008;7:2. Published 2008 Jan 21. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-2[]
  12. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. J Am Board Fam Med. 2015 Mar-Apr;28(2):249-56. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176. PMID: 25748766[]
  13. D’Angelo EK, Singer HA, Rembold CM. Magnesium relaxes arterial smooth muscle by decreasing intracellular Ca2+ without changing intracellular Mg2+. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1992 Jun;89(6):1988-1994. DOI: 10.1172/jci115807. PMID: 1602005; PMCID: PMC295901[]
  14. Lindholmer C, Eliasson R. The effects of albumin, magnesium, and zinc on human sperm survival in different fractions of split ejaculates. Fertil Steril. 1974 May;25(5):424-31. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)40393-6. PMID: 4442614[]
  15. Cox IM, Campbell MJ, Dowson D. Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet. 1991 Mar 30;337(8744):757-60. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(91)91371-z. PMID: 1672392[]
  16. Choi YH, Miller JM, Tucker KL, Hu H, Park SK. Antioxidant vitamins and magnesium and the risk of hearing loss in the US general population. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jan;99(1):148-55. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.068437. Epub 2013 Nov 6. PMID: 24196403; PMCID: PMC4441318[]
  17. Riley JM, Kim H, Averch TD, Kim HJ. Effect of magnesium on calcium and oxalate ion binding. J Endourol. 2013;27(12):1487-1492. doi:10.1089/end.2013.0173[]
  18. Cevette MJ, Barrs DM, Patel A, Conroy KP, Sydlowski S, Noble BN, Nelson GA, Stepanek J. Phase 2 study examining magnesium-dependent tinnitus. Int Tinnitus J. 2011;16(2):168-73. PMID: 22249877[]
  19. Dahle LO, Berg G, Hammar M, Hurtig M, Larsson L. The effect of oral magnesium substitution on pregnancy-induced leg cramps. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1995;173:175–80[]
  20. Moti Nissani, A bibliographical survey of bruxism with special emphasis on non-traditional treatment modalities, Journal of Oral Science, 2001, Volume 43, Issue 2, Pages 73-83, Released on J-STAGE March 11, 2011, Online ISSN 1880-4926, Print ISSN 1343-4934,[]
  21. Nathaniel S. Marshall, Yasmina Serinel, Roo Killick, Julia M. Child, Isabelle Raisin, Callum M. Berry, Tea Lallukka, Rick Wassing, Richard WW. Lee, Rajeev Ratnavadivel, Hima Vedam, Ron Grunstein, Keith KH. Wong, Camilla M. Hoyos, Elizabeth A. Cayanan, Maria Comas, Julia L. Chapman, Brendon J. Yee,
    Magnesium supplementation for the treatment of restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder: A systematic review, Sleep Medicine Reviews, Volume 48, 2019, 101218, ISSN 1087-0792,[]
  22. Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec;17(12):1161-9. PMID: 23853635; PMCID: PMC3703169[]
  23. Held K, Antonijevic IA, Künzel H, Uhr M, Wetter TC, Golly IC, Steiger A, Murck H. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002 Jul;35(4):135-43. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-33195. PMID: 12163983[]
  24. Murck H, Steiger A. Mg2+ reduces ACTH secretion and enhances spindle power without changing delta power during sleep in men — possible therapeutic implications. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Jun;137(3):247-52. doi: 10.1007/s002130050617. PMID: 9683002[]
  25. Simental-Mendia LE, Sahebkar A, Rodriguez-Moran M, Zambrano-Galvan G, Guerrero-Romero F. Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Plasma C-reactive Protein Concentrations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(31):4678-4686. doi: 10.2174/1381612823666170525153605. PMID: 28545353[]
  26. Sherwood RA, Rocks BF, Stewart A, Saxton RS. Magnesium and the premenstrual syndrome. Ann Clin Biochem. 1986 Nov;23 ( Pt 6):667-70. doi: 10.1177/000456328602300607. PMID: 3800293[]
  27. Abraham GE. Nutritional factors in the etiology of the premenstrual tension syndrome. J Reprod Med 1983; 28: 44ll-64[]
  28. Ebrahimi E, Khayati Motlagh S, Nemati S, Tavakoli Z. Effects of magnesium and vitamin b6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. J Caring Sci. 2012;1(4):183-189. Published 2012 Nov 22. doi:10.5681/jcs.2012.026[]
  29. Walker AF, De S, Vickers MF, Abeyasekera S, Collins ML, Trinca LA. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. J Womens Health 1998;7:1157–65[]
  30. Facchinetti F, Borella P, Sances G, Fioroni L, Nappi RE, Genazzani AR. Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstet Gynecol 1991;78:177–81[]
  31. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu9050429[]
  32. Fathizadeh N, Ebrahimi E, Valiani M, Tavakoli N, Yar MH. Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010;15(Suppl 1):401-405[]
  33. Schink M, Konturek PC, Herbert SL, Renner SP, Burghaus S, Blum S, Fasching PA, Neurath MF, Zopf Y. Different nutrient intake and prevalence of gastrointestinal comorbidities in women with endometriosis. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2019 Apr;70(2). doi: 10.26402/jpp.2019.2.09. Epub 2019 Aug 20. PMID: 31443088[]
  34. Benassi L, Barletta FP, Baroncini L, Bertani D, Filippini F, Beski L, Nani A, Tesauri P, Tridenti G. Effectiveness of magnesium pidolate in the prophylactic treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 1992;19(3):176-9. PMID: 1451282[]
  35. Proctor ML, Murphy PA. Herbal and dietary therapies for primary and secondary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(3):CD002124. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002124. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;3:CD002124. PMID: 11687013[]
  36. Hoşgörler F, Kızıldağ S, Ateş M, Argon A, Koç B, Kandis S, Güvendi G, Ilgin R, Uysal N. The Chronic Use of Magnesium Decreases VEGF Levels in the Uterine Tissue in Rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2020 Aug;196(2):545-551. doi: 10.1007/s12011-019-01944-8. Epub 2019 Nov 7. PMID: 31701462[]
  37. Mathias JR, Franklin R, Quast DC, Fraga N, Loftin CA, Yates L, Harrison V. Relation of endometriosis and neuromuscular disease of the gastrointestinal tract: new insights. Fertil Steril. 1998 Jul;70(1):81-8. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(98)00096-x. PMID: 9660426[]
  38. Lindberg JS, Zobitz MM, Poindexter JR, Pak CY. Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990 Feb;9(1):48-55. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1990.10720349. PMID: 2407766[]
  39. Gröber U, Werner T, Vormann J, Kisters K. Myth or Reality-Transdermal Magnesium?. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):813. Published 2017 Jul 28. doi:10.3390/nu9080813[]
  40. Levy, J. “Magnesium Glycinate Benefits Sleep, Mood, Blood Pressure & More.” Dr. Axe. July 20, 2019[]
  41. Ayuk J, Gittoes NJ. Contemporary view of the clinical relevance of magnesium homeostasis. Ann Clin Biochem. 2014 Mar;51(Pt 2):179-88. doi: 10.1177/0004563213517628. Epub 2014 Jan 8. PMID: 24402002[]
  42. Barrell, A. “What is hypermagnesemia?Medical News Today. July 12, 2017[]