The topic of magnesium bisglycinate is one that has sparked the interest of healthcare and laypeople alike, including women in perimenopause and menopause, and for good reason. Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for health in all of life’s stages, and it is available in various forms. One of those forms is magnesium bisglycinate (aka, magnesium glycinate), which is formed by combining elemental magnesium with glycine, an amino acid that helps in the building of proteins. This amino acid also stimulates the production of serotonin, a hormone that improves sleep, elevates mood, and enhances memory. The combination of magnesium and glycine creates a form of magnesium that is very easily absorbed through the small intestine and helpful in the management of many issues associated with perimenopause and menopause.
Among those issues are elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, both of which tend to fluctuate and rise during these transitional times of a woman’s life and can have a dramatic impact on women’s health. High blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women. Elevated blood sugar is a characteristic of diabetes, another health condition common among menopausal women. Therefore, it’s essential for women to take steps to maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels to not only ward off these diseases but for better health during menopause and overall.
Magnesium bisglycinate is one effective and natural tool women can turn to for help in maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels in perimenopause and menopause. First, let’s look at what happens to the body in perimenopause and menopause and how magnesium—and magnesium bisglycinate in particular —plays a significant role in supporting women’s health and well-being.
Understanding perimenopause and menopause
Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s life when her hormones—especially estrogen and progesterone —begin to fluctuate and their production gradually declines. Women typically start perimenopause when they are in their 40s, but it may begin during the 30s or earlier in rare cases. The length of perimenopause can be several months to up to 10 years.
Unlike perimenopause, which doesn’t have a specific start date, menopause does. It is the 365th consecutive day a woman has not had a period. Technically, menopause is that one day, and all the days going forward can be called postmenopause. Once women reach menopause and postmenopause, it is the end of their reproductive years.
The drop in hormone production and levels results in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that range in number, severity, and duration. Although the list of possible perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms number more than 100, many women experience relatively few and their discomfort is mild to moderate. Among the more common symptoms are hot flashes, fatigue, sleep problems, joint pain, lack of concentration, digestive issues, brain fog, anxiety, reduced sex drive, and heart palpitations.
The dramatic hormone changes also have an impact on blood pressure and blood sugar (glucose) levels. In the case of blood pressure, estrogen has the ability to dilate blood vessels, which facilitates healthy blood flow. The hormone also plays a significant role in relaxing the blood vessels by keeping nitrous oxide levels in a healthy range. As estrogen levels begin to drop during perimenopause and menopause, their protective qualities decline as well, which can result in hypertension (high blood pressure).
Plunging estrogen and progesterone levels also have an impact on blood sugar levels, causing them to fluctuate and become less responsive to insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance, in which the body doesn’t respond well to insulin and blood sugar levels rise.
Magnesium and your health
What’s the big deal about magnesium? For one thing, this mineral is involved in more than 300 biochemical processes in the body. It is involved in everything from regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure to making protein and bone, managing nerve and muscle function, creating DNA, controlling heart rhythm, producing energy, and much more. Because it is an integral part of so many processes, a deficiency can have a negative impact on many bodily functions.
If you are not getting sufficient magnesium in your diet and/or through supplements, you are not alone. Research notes that up to two-thirds of people in the western world don’t get enough magnesium from their diet. A magnesium deficiency can result in a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, those symptoms don’t usually appear until your magnesium levels are dramatically low. Chronically low magnesium puts you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, migraine, and high blood pressure. You may also experience constipation, headache, leg cramps at night, numbness or tingling in your hands or legs, overall weakness, tremors, nausea, and heart palpitations. In some cases, individuals experience convulsions or seizures.
The good news is that magnesium is found in many common and readily available foods. Dietary sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, collard greens, kale, beet and mustard greens), lentils, beans, legumes, avocados, nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin and chia), whole grains, yogurt, some fatty fish (e.g., salmon, halibut, mackerel), tofu, and dark chocolate. The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 320 milligrams for women although more may be needed.
Magnesium bisglycinate: a special form of magnesium
You can find many different magnesium supplements on the market, and among the ones you may see on store shelves are magnesium citrate, oxide, chloride, lactate, malate, taurate, L-threonate, sulfate, aspartate, and orotate. The form of magnesium reported to have the best bioavailability (absorption) is magnesium bisglycinate.
With so many magnesium supplements available, how do you know which one to choose? Each one provides magnesium, but in different forms and also has its own qualities and absorption abilities based on the molecules the mineral is attached to.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the gut is able to better absorb types of magnesium that dissolve well in liquid. Research has shown that magnesium aspartate, chloride, citrate, and lactate are better absorbed and are more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and sulfate. It’s also important to know that taking very high doses of supplemental zinc (about 142 mg per day) can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium.
Magnesium bisglycinate is well absorbed for several reasons. One is that this form has two glycine molecules attached to it. Glycine is a neurotransmitter and non-essential amino acid. The glycine molecules attract less water and therefore allows the supplement to provide a much greater rate of absorption by the body. In addition, the presence of glycine helps reduce the amount of pH in the small intestine, which in turn promotes absorption and aids in preventing a deficiency of magnesium. Glycine also has the ability to improve sleep, reduce stress, and support mood and memory. As one of three amino acids needed to make the potent antioxidant glutathione, glycine plays an important role in supporting immune health.
Safety and side effects of magnesium bisglycinate
Magnesium bisglycinate has been called “one of the gentlest supplements on the stomach.” While other forms of magnesium supplements are often associated with loose stools or diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea, and abdominal cramping, magnesium bisglycinate may not cause these problems. That makes this form of magnesium a suggested choice if you need to elevate levels of this mineral. It can be especially safe for individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery. If you have kidney disease or other kidney issues, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking magnesium bisglycinate because compromised kidney function can make it difficult to eliminate excess magnesium.
Managing blood pressure with magnesium
Magnesium can play a significant role in regulating blood pressure. In fact, in a statement issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on January 10, 2022, the agency “determined that the totality of the scientific evidence supports a qualified health claim on the relationship between magnesium and a reduce risk of high blood pressure in conventional foods and dietary supplements.” The statement is qualified because the FDA has noted that the scientific evidence is “inconsistent and inconclusive.
Research indicates that oral magnesium may help reduce blood pressure by:
- Increasing nitric oxide levels, which relaxes the muscles inside your blood vessels. This in turn widens the blood vessels and allows blood to flow more freely, thus lowering blood pressure
- Improving endothelial dysfunction, which is when the large blood vessels on the surface of the heart become narrow and blood flow is affected.
- Acting as a calcium channel blocker, which is a substance prevents calcium from getting into cells in the arteries and heart. When calcium gets into these cells, it can cause the heart and arteries to work harder and push up blood pressure. When calcium is blocked, the blood vessels can dilate and blood can flow better.
Magnesium bisglycinate for high blood pressure
In a 2020 study appearing in Nutrients, the authors compared two forms of magnesium--sucrosomial and bisglycinate—to determine their ability to affect contractility of blood vessels. The study was done using human myometrial (inner layer of the uterus) and intestinal cells. Results indicated that bisglycinate performed better on getting into the intestinal cells (permeability) and relaxing the myometrial cells compared to the sucrosomial form of magnesium. The authors concluded that these findings showed that magnesium bisglycinate had a “better chance of effectiveness in human applications.”
Although there are no specific studies on the use of magnesium bisglycinate for high blood pressure, several studies have shown that magnesium supplementation does lower blood pressure, such as a 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension in which the author quotes numerous research endeavors using different forms of magnesium supplements and their ability to lower blood pressure. The better bioavailability of magnesium bisglycinate suggests it may result in a more positive response in lowering blood pressure.
Magnesium for managing blood sugar
As the risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes increases in perimenopause and menopause, the need to keep these conditions at bay also increases. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels may help. Why?
People with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes have insulin sensitivity or resistance, which is associated with loss of magnesium in the urine. This loss contributes to lower magnesium levels in the body. By getting more magnesium in the diet and/or with supplementation, magnesium levels in the blood can increase and help with blood sugar control.
The National Institutes of Health has summarized a number of studies that show a relationship between consuming greater amounts of magnesium and a significantly lower risk of developing diabetes. One reason may be that magnesium is important in the metabolism of sugar (glucose). In a meta-analysis of seven studies that involved nearly 300,000 participants, the investigators found that people who added 100 mg magnesium per day to their daily intake reduced the risk of diabetes by 15 percent.
Various forms of magnesium were used in these studies. Diabetes research using magnesium bisglycinate specifically has not been conducted at this time. However, given that magnesium bisglycinate is more bioavailable than other forms of the mineral suggests it can be more supportive in managing blood sugar.
Taking magnesium supplements
Before you begin taking magnesium supplements, consult with your doctor. Magnesium levels are not typically provided in standard blood tests, so your doctor will need to ask for an additional test to identify your levels. People who are a greater risk of deficiency include older adults, including women in menopause, and individuals who have digestive disorders or type 2 diabetes.
Also talk to your healthcare provider about the dose of magnesium bisglycinate that is best for you. A suggested dose is 300 mg magnesium bisglycinate daily.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for supporting, promoting, and maintaining health among perimenopausal and menopausal women. A superior form of this mineral is in the form of magnesium bisglycinate, which has bioavailability superior to that of other magnesium supplements.
Magnesium bisglycinate can be helpful in supporting healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and women in perimenopause and menopause should consider including this supplement in their daily wellness plan, along with a nutritious diet, daily exercise, sufficient sleep, and stress management practices. Stay tuned for future research articles on use of this supplement management of high blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and more.