Used for everything from boosting mood to building stronger bones, this essential mineral also is proven to help prevent heart disease by easing inflammation and improving cardiovascular function and tissue health. Deficiency has been linked to heart disease and hypertension, in addition to respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and depression. But how about its gender-specific benefits? "Women desperately need magnesium," says women's health expert Christiane Northrup, MD. "It's essential to nerve function and can help enormously with calming the anxiety and headaches that affect so many women." It also supports healthy pregnancy and can help ease PMS symptoms. Here's what to know.

Magnesium for pregnancy

When taken during pregnancy, magnesium may protect against complications such as preeclampsia and preterm delivery. Women should get at least 310 mg of magnesium each day and should up that amount to 360-400 mg during pregnancy and 320-360 mg when breastfeeding.

More herbs and supplements for healthy pregnancy

  • Folate: During pregnancy, folate helps create red blood cells, DNA, and RNA. Also assists in metabolizing the amino acid homocysteine, which in high levels is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Chlorella: Excellent source of carotenes, chlorophyll, and other antioxidants. Studies show it can help eliminate heavy metals and toxins from the body, thus reducing the fetus' exposure to these poisons.
  • DHA: A pregnant woman can lose as much as 50 percent of the DHA from her brain—a major contributor to postpartum depression. Mothers with low levels of DHA also are more likely to deliver prematurely.

Magnesium for PMS

Involved in many enzymatic reactions that control brain function; helpful for mood disorders, including PMS and bipolar disorder. Relieves muscle spasms (cramps); promotes proper heart function and energy production.

More herbs and supplements for PMS

  • Omega-3s: Relieve menstrual cramps; decreases reliance on synthetic remedies, such as NSAIDs; increases concentration.
  • Potassium: Fights fatigue by helping send oxygen to the brain to maintain alertness and cognitive functioning.

Magnesium for energy

Because magnesium helps support healthy nerve and enzyme function, this essential supplement also is essential for keeping energy levels high and staying focused throughout the day.

More energy-boosting herbs and supplements for women

  • B vitamins:Help in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of the central nervous system to support energy production.
  • Chlorella: Packed with protein, B vitamins, antioxidants (including vitamin C and carotenoids), and chlorophyll.

Calcium and magnesium

Calcium also is essential for women's health, yet most women don't get enough. To reap the most benefits from your multi or calcium-magnesium supplement, be sure to take equal amounts of calcium citrate and magnesium citrate. Calcium's benefits include:

  • It's required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells, and proper muscle contraction
  • It helps build strong bones strength
  • Adequate calcium intake is especially important for female athletes exercising seven or more hours a week. Exercise at this level—especially for girls in puberty—can cause hormonal declines, which can lead to compromised bone formation and premature osteoporosis.
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • May help prevent some types of cancers

Magnesium and your multi

Recent research provides even more reason for women of all ages to take their multi: It may support weight loss and have antiaging effects.

6 tips for choosing a multi

  • Find adequate calcium and magnesium levels
  • Spread your dose throughout the day
  • Choose natural nutrients
  • Look for active forms of Bs
  • Find adequate calcium and magnesium levels
  • Take your multi with a meal

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