Magnesium For PCOS


If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you may be wondering what relationship it has with magnesium. Certain studies reveal that women with PCOS often have a greater incidence of insulin resistance. Magnesium has been linked with insulin resistance. This article focuses on the relationship between magnesium andPCOS, and the merits of magnesium in improving PCOS symptoms.

What is magnesium? 

Magnesium is an essential mineral in the body that is found naturally in various foods. Dietary supplements consisting of magnesium  are often added to diet  and are also found in some medicines. Magnesium is known as a cofactor in about 300 enzyme systems that control a lot of bodily biochemical reactions, which include blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, and protein synthesis In energy production, glycolysis, and oxidative phosphorylation, magnesium is greatly required. It is also  implicated in the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and antioxidant glutathione and the development of the structure of the bone. Hypomagnesemia is a serum magnesium level that is less than 1.46 mg/dL in the blood . The homeostasis of magnesium is controlled by the kidney which excretes about 120 mg in the urine per day but excretes less than this amount when the levels are low.

How do I know that my magnesium level is deficient? 

It is often difficult to assess magnesium levels through blood tests since a major amount of bodily magnesium is located in cells and not in the bone or the blood. This means that there is hardly any good blood test to detect magnesium deficiency.

However, there are some symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency which include the following: 

  • Insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome 
  • remenstrual symptoms 
  • Migraines or frequent headaches 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Brittle bones and development of stones 
  • Muscle cramping 
  • General pain
  • Mood changes like anxiety, depression or irritability
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Low energy levels or chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Memory issues
  • Intense cravings for sweets
  • Numbness or tingling in hands4

What is PCOS? 

PCOS is defined as several  symptoms linked with hormonal imbalance which affects  women of childbearing age.2 Three conditions that are mostly present in women with PCOS are; the absence of ovulation resulting in the absence of periods or irregular periods, a high level of androgen (which is often identified by an excessive body of facial hair), and finally, the presence of abnormal growth on one or both ovaries.2 These abnormal growths are immature ovarian follicles that have stopped developing. PCOS is the common cause of anovulatory infertility which means that infertility occurs as a result of the absence of ovulation, the process whereby a mature egg is released from the ovary every month.2 A lot of women don’t usually know that they have PCOS until they have difficulty with conception. There are other problems with PCOS which include; acne, weight gain, irregular bleeding, dark patches on the skin, and unwanted hair growth.2

How does magnesium affect PCOS?

Magnesium has many benefits for women with PCOS, some of these include:

Improves insulin resistance: Studies have shown that about 70% of women with PCOS have a certain degree of insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating the levels of blood sugar. When cells are not responsive to insulin as they should, they are said to be insulin resistant. In PCOS insulin resistance, there is a more-than-usual amount of insulin and glucose in the blood which could lead to certain symptoms including weight gain, sugar cravings, and irregular periods. Reduced level of magnesium in PCOS is often linked with worsening insulin resistance and a higher level of testosterone but magnesium supplementation may lower insulin resistance in cells and improve the levels of your blood sugar.

Reduces anxiety: Women with PCOS are thrice more likely to suffer from anxiety than the entire population. Magnesium supplements are  effective in reducing mild to moderate anxiety and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) related anxiety.

Promotes better sleep: Magnesium is also helpful in achieving a better quality of sleep. Magnesium glycinate combines with glycine (an amino acid) involved with brain chemicals in promoting a feeling of calmness and a healthy circadian rhythm. Magnesium when taken about one to two hours before sleep has optimum benefits.

Reduces migraines: A lot of women with PCOS also suffer from migraines. There is some evidence supporting the benefits of magnesium in the treatment and prevention of migraine attacks. Taking about 400 mg of magnesium glycinate each day is recommended if you suffer from migraines, but you require medical advice before taking this due to drug interactions.

Lowers androgen levels: Androgens just like testosterone are sex hormones that are present in both men and women but have a high concentration in men than in women. High androgen level is one of the major causes of most PCOS symptoms, including acne, excess facial and body hair, and thinning of scalp hair.

How much magnesium should I take for PCOS?

A daily amount of 320 mg, is the recommended dose of magnesium in adult women, which may not be sufficient for women that have PCOS as they usually require a higher dose of magnesium due to PCOS. Common foods that are sources of magnesium may not provide enough magnesium in deficient people. Some of those foods include avocado, beans, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains. Since women with PCOS require higher magnesium levels than others, they may need both dietary sources of magnesium and magnesium supplements.

Many magnesium supplements are available, but magnesium bisglycinate and glycinate have lesser gastrointestinal effects and are better absorbed than others. Magnesium sulfate is less absorbed than magnesium aspartate, lactate and citrate, and the chloride forms of magnesium.

Magnesium toxicity is rare because magnesium is water soluble, and any extra amount left after absorption is leaves the body  by urine. However, excessive consumption of magnesium – up to 3 to 5 grams per day – could lead to some side effects like dehydration, diarrhoea , and more serious side effects like confusion, hypotension, and weakness.  It is advised that magnesium should not be consumed if you have a kidney problem, kidney failure, or heart problems.

Which magnesium is best for PCOS? 

The best magnesium for PCOS is the one that is easily absorbed. The Biological Trace Element Research paper contained a published animal study where different types of Magnesium were found to be absorbed at different rates. The following types of Magnesium were considered by researchers: magnesium sulfate, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium malate, and magnesium acetyl taurate. These researchers concluded  that magnesium oxide is a commonly prescribed dietary supplement and magnesium citrate had the least bioavailability in comparison with other control groups. Other research from the National Insitute of Health, revealed that magnesium citrate is more absorbable than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.5

‍Side effects and other concerns

Magnesium is essential for our bodily function, but excess of the mineral poses some problems. Magnesium overdose or excess magnesium in the body, also known as hypermagnesemia, is usually found in people with kidney disorders and can occur when magnesium-containing medications like laxatives are consumed.6 Though the side effects of magnesium are often not life-threatening , they can cause a great deal of discomfort. 

Mild side effects of magnesium are diarrhoea , nausea and vomiting.  Relieve of these symptoms can be found when the levels of magnesium are normalised. Muscle weakness occurs as a more severe symptom of magnesium excess. Magnesium overdose also causes acute urinary retention, irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure. 

People with kidney disorders are more at risk of severe side effects. In worst cases, cardiac arrest can occur due to magnesium overdose. The effects of magnesium overdose can be tackled quickly through urgent medical attention where there is the need for intravenous administration of calcium gluconate. In more severe cases, dialysis may be the only option here with magnesium flushed through the system. 

Another group of people that are more at risk of magnesium overdose are those with disorders like Addison’s disease, gastrointestinal disorders and hypothyroidism.6 Excessive consumption of magnesium supplements can also predispose you to magnesium overdose and associated side effects. Medical advice is required before taking magnesium supplements if you have PCOS to take the right dose and avoid magnesium toxicity.


Magnesium has been found to have positive effects on  women with PCOS due  to its ability to improve cell insulin resistance, which is a common feature of the condition. Nonetheless, before starting magnesium supplementation, it is crucial to seek medical advice to avoid the risk of hypermagnesemia and potential interactions with other medications. 


  1. Gragossian, Alin, et al. ‘Hypomagnesemia’. StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2023. PubMed,
  1. Eunice Kennedy Shriver national institute of child health and human development - nichd [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 15]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Sandra Fidelis

Bachelor’s (Honours) Degree, Nursing Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University

Sandra Fidelis is a registered nurse, certified health writer and public health researcher.
She has a wide range of experience in the care of diabetic patients, cancer patients, acutely ill patients, elderly care, clients with long-term conditions, palliative care, and public health care across various health systems with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science and continuing education in Public Health.
She brings her medical background to bear in her health content writing with the capacity of creating a layman’s impression of health articles and health content search engine optimization.

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