Magnesium is an important mineral in your body and is found in more than 300 of your body’s enzyme systems. These systems help regulate and maintain critical biochemical processes in your body, including energy metabolism, blood pressure regulation (already in normal range), muscle and nerve function, and blood glucose control. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels is essential to your body’s health – especially, as it turns out, during pregnancy. Magnesium is found naturally in many foods, is added to other foods, and is also available in supplement form.
Taking magnesium while pregnant is generally considered safe. However, it’s important to make sure that you do not exceed the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for pregnant individuals, which typically ranges from 350-400 mg, depending on your age. Thus if you’re taking a prenatal vitamin that includes magnesium, you may want to avoid taking an additional magnesium supplement. To determine the most suitable approach for your specific needs, it is best to consult your doctor.
During pregnancy, it’s important to maintain your health, both for yourself and for the fetus. When you’re pregnant, it is hypothesized that your body ends up using more magnesium due to the changes happening in the body, which is why it’s important to maintain healthy magnesium levels.
For those who don’t have adequate levels of magnesium, taking a magnesium supplement can be a good idea. A study from the National Institutes of Health found that many pregnant people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have magnesium intakes lower than the recommended levels. In the same study, it was shown that women who took a magnesium supplement during pregnancy had healthier pregnancies than those in the placebo group.
For pregnant people in this study, magnesium citrate at 300 mg was shown to help prevent high blood pressure brought on by pregnancy, which in turn can help prevent other pregnancy complications. It’s also been shown to help maintain strong bones, muscle and nerve function, and optimal blood sugar levels (already in normal range), while also supporting a healthy uterus and healthy fetal growth.
As mentioned above, magnesium has been shown to help pregnant people maintain strong bones, muscle and nerve function, optimal blood sugar levels already in normal range, and healthy blood pressure already in normal range. But that’s not all magnesium can do. In fact, studies point to the significant benefits of magnesium both for fetal health and maternal health – before and after the child is born.
One more thing: When we’re talking about pregnancy’s effects on the body, we can’t forget about those annoying occasional leg cramps. Leg cramps are quite common for pregnant people. In fact, it can affect about 40% of pregnant people. The exact cause is unknown. That said, there can be several contributing factors such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, changes in weight and circulation due to pregnancy.
Fortunately, studies have found that magnesium may possibly help relieve leg cramps. For instance, a recent study showed that magnesium supplements can decrease leg cramps and their related discomfort. This is due to magnesium's vital role in regulating muscle contractions. Per this study, if these kinds of leg cramps are a problem for you, a magnesium supplement can be a “valuable therapeutic tool.” On the other hand, another study resulted in different findings, concluding that oral magnesium supplementation during pregnancy did not reduce the occurrence and frequency of episodes of leg cramps.
Clearly, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of magnesium supplementation on leg cramps during pregnancy. If you experience frequent leg cramps, the best course of action would be to talk to your gynecologist to discuss the best option to manage any potential health concerns during pregnancy.
Some symptoms of early magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Unfortunately, these symptoms are not exclusive to magnesium deficiencies, meaning they can present as potential signs of other issues so it is always important to talk to your doctor about any new health concerns.
There are various forms of magnesium available, each with its own characteristics. By being able to differentiate between the different types, you can make an informed decision about which form would be best for you. Here we will break down some of the most commonly used types of magnesium supplements.
Magnesium citrate is a form of magnesium that’s combined with citric acid, which makes it easier for the body to absorb. In fact, this study shows that magnesium citrate was better absorbed in comparison to other forms, such as magnesium oxide. The results of this study also reported that serum levels of magnesium were highest in those supplementing with the citrate form. These findings were consistent with another study that reported similar results.
Additionally, an in-vitro study further proves these findings, by demonstrating that magnesium citrate exhibited higher bioavailability compared to other forms.
Magnesium oxide has a high magnesium content but is less bioavailable compared to other forms. For instance, this study found that magnesium oxide had poor bioavailability in comparison to magnesium chloride, lactate, and aspartate. The study concluded that only 4% fractional absorption was detected for magnesium oxide. These results remained the same in another study that also found poor absorption for both magnesium oxide and magnesium chloride.
Magnesium glycinate is formed by combining magnesium with the amino acid, glycine. Glycine is known for its role in supporting healthy sleep, as well as being one of the three amino acids used to produce glutathione. Glutathione is a major antioxidant in the body that is essential for proper immune functioning and protecting the body from harmful free radicals.
Not only that, a study suggests that magnesium glycinate may be particularly beneficial for individuals with digestive issues. The study demonstrated that the glycinate form of magnesium was well-absorbed in individuals with compromised digestion, indicating its potential as an effective option for magnesium supplementation in those with digestive concerns.
Magnesium sulfate is a form of magnesium that is commonly found in Epsom salts and can be used in IV (intravenous) solutions. Considering that the skin is our body’s largest organ, it’s no surprise that it possesses remarkable nutrient absorption capabilities. The initial research seems promising however additional research is needed. IV administration of magnesium sulfate does increase magnesium levels as shown in results from this study.
Magnesium chloride is a form of magnesium combined with chloride. Compared to magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride has been found to have higher bioavailability. According to this source, magnesium derived from magnesium chloride (MgCl2) exhibits high bioavailability that is equivalent to organic magnesium supplements like magnesium lactate and aspartate.
Magnesium taurate is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid, taurine. Magnesium taurate has been studied for its potential health benefits, particularly in relation to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels during pregnancy.
In addition, taurine is naturally found in high levels in many areas of the body, such as the heart, brain, skeletal muscle, large intestine, and eyes. This suggests that magnesium taurate may have an affinity for these specific areas of our body, meaning that it may have a greater propensity to accumulate or exert its effects in those specific organs.
To further illustrate, an animal study found that magnesium taurate was rapidly absorbed, had easy access to the brain, and demonstrated the highest concentration levels in brain tissues compared to other forms of magnesium. Although more human research is needed to fully understand the effects of magnesium taurate, this animal study highlights its potential cardioprotective properties.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium for pregnant people is 350-400 mg, compared with 300-310 mg for non-pregnant and non-lactating people. The increase is due to the needs of the fetus and the imperative of balancing the changes happening in the body. During lactation, the RDA is 310-360 mg per day.
Getting excessive amounts of magnesium from food sources is generally not a cause for concern. However, it is possible to get too much in supplement form. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may indicate that you’re consuming too much magnesium or it could be a sign of other potential issues, and you should consult with a medical professional:
During pregnancy, it’s important to ensure an adequate intake of magnesium. Let’s discuss various ways to easily incorporate magnesium into your routine.
One of the best ways to naturally increase your magnesium intake is through your diet. There are fortunately many tasty magnesium-rich foods out there that you can enjoy during pregnancy. Some of these foods include nuts, unrefined grains and grain products, fish, seafood, vegetables, legumes, berries, and leafy greens. Even getting more tap or bottled water can make a contribution to your magnesium intake.
If you find it challenging to meet your magnesium needs through diet alone, a magnesium supplement can be a helpful addition. Magnesium can be found alone, in mineral complexes, prenatals vitamins, or multivitamins. But before taking any new magnesium supplements, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider to determine the right type and dosage for you.
Another option is the use of topical magnesium oils and lotions. These products can be applied to the skin, allowing for localized absorption of magnesium. They are particularly beneficial for promoting muscle relaxation.
Not only is taking a warm bath with Epsom salt a great way to relax and decompress, but it can also help boost your intake of magnesium. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate, which can be absorbed through the skin during your bath. Incorporating these Epsom salt baths can promote muscle relaxation and may even help relieve occasional tension.
The question of whether you need a standalone magnesium supplement if you’re already taking a prenatal vitamin is a good one. The answer is: It depends on how much magnesium is present in your prenatal. If it’s already supplying you with around 400 mg of magnesium per day, then you probably want to avoid a specific supplement – getting too much magnesium in supplement form can have potential negative side effects. Instead of doubling up on supplements, you can incorporate more magnesium-rich foods into your diet.
During pregnancy, magnesium becomes even more crucial for the well-being of both the parent and the growing fetus. It plays a vital role in keeping bones strong, supporting proper muscle function, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels already in normal range, and maintaining healthy blood pressure already in normal range.
If you're finding it difficult to meet your magnesium needs through your diet or prenatal vitamin, taking magnesium supplements can be a reliable solution to fill any nutrient gaps. However, it's always recommended to have a discussion with your doctor to determine the best form, dosage, and approach to magnesium supplementation. Your healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance to ensure you and your baby receive the optimal benefits from magnesium supplementation.