It has been widely reported that women who experience migraines report an increase in this malady just prior to menstruation. It has also been noted that in many studies that migraines are often linked to magnesium (Mg) deficiencies. I suspect that these two findings are logically related as follows:
1. Women's magnesium and other nutrient levels may dip just prior to menstruation due to hormonal fluctuations, as well as nutrient loss through blood loss.
2. Just prior to menstruation, estrogen levels drop in women. According to magnesium researcher Dr. Mildred Seelig, estrogen causes an enhancement of Mg utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone.1 Therefore it is logical to conclude that a drop in estrogen levels may decrease Mg uptake. A 1981 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that cell magnesium level were significantly lower patients with premenstrual symptoms than in controls. 2
3. This premenstrual dip in magnesium levels may cause an increase in migraine headaches and other magnesium dependent conditions, especially in women who may already be borderline low in magnesium.
Recent studies show an inverse correlation between migraine headaches in women and breast cancer. Breast cancer is associated with higher estrogen levels, so this may be another clue that migraines may occur more frequently in women with lower estrogran levels. In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Christopher Li reports that, "Women who get migraines may have a chronically lower baseline estrogen. That difference could be what is protective against breast cancer."
It is well established that women are more susceptible to iron deficiency anemia than men because of menstruation. Yet, iron is not the only mineral that is a component of blood. There are other minerals that are found in blood, including magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency has been
linked to migraines, anxiety and depression, water retention, cramps and
many other conditions that are often thought to make up premenstrual syndrome
(with or without migraines). As such, it is logical to consider the possibility
that for some women a component of premenstrual syndrome may actually
be a hormonal and blood loss induced deficiency of magnesium and possibly
Related sections of interest:
The Influence of Estrogen on Migraines - article from the Journal of American Medicine.
1. Seelig, Mildred. "Interrelationship of Magnesium and Estrogen in Cardiovascular and Bone Disorders, Eclampsia, Migraine and Premenstrual Syndrome." Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla, 1993. Abstract. Journal of the American College of Nutrition Aug;12(4) (1993): 442-58. [Full text]
2. Abraham GE, Lubran MM. "Serum and red cell magnesium levels in patients with premenstrual tension." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1981 Nov;34(11):2364-6 [PDF - Full text]
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