Pregnancy 101: Can you take magnesium when pregnant?


Magnesium is one of those unsung heroes in our bodies—essential for all sorts of functions, from keeping our organs in check to managing nutrients. But when you’re expecting, your body’s needs shift gears, and magnesium becomes even more critical.

Pregnancy brings on a whole new set of demands, and among them is the increased need for magnesium. It’s akin to your body subtly indicating the need for more of that substance.

Now, you might be wondering: Can I still take my magnesium during pregnancy? And we’re here to walk you through it all—from why magnesium is a big deal during pregnancy to spotting deficiencies, discovering magnesium-rich foods, and finally getting to the bottom of whether you can take magnesium while you’re expecting. Let’s dive in!

Why is magnesium important?

Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays numerous roles in maintaining overall health. It helps to regulate our body temperature, aids in protein synthesis, allows our nerves to function, helps in energy production, and regulates nutrients such as zinc, vitamin D, copper, calcium, and potassium in our bodies. In other words, magnesium is a mineral we cannot do without.

According to Mount Sanai, people in the U.S. don’t get enough magnesium from their diet, but, magnesium deficiency is rare. However, a journal titled ‘Magnesium in Pregnancy’, states that women of childbearing age globally do not meet the recommended US RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for magnesium.

Is magnesium important during pregnancy?

The need for magnesium increases in pregnant women, however, magnesium levels have been shown to decrease during pregnancy. Evidence suggests that optimal magnesium levels are essential to the mother’s health and the fetus during pregnancy and postpartum. 

Magnesium is particularly important during pregnancy for several reasons:

  1. Fetal development: Magnesium plays a crucial role in the development of the fetus, contributing to the formation of bones, muscles, and organs. Adequate magnesium intake during pregnancy supports the healthy growth and development of the baby.
  2. Muscle function: Magnesium is essential for proper muscle function, including the muscles of the uterus. Maintaining adequate magnesium levels may help prevent uterine contractions and reduce the risk of premature labor.
  3. Prevention of preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure and other complications during pregnancy. Research suggests that magnesium supplementation may help lower the risk of developing preeclampsia and its associated complications, such as eclampsia and placental abruption.
  4. Reduction of gestational diabetes risk: Magnesium supplementation may help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in pregnant women, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of various pregnancy complications for both the mother and the baby.
  5. Maternal health: Adequate magnesium levels are important for the overall health and well-being of the mother during pregnancy. Magnesium supports energy production, regulates blood sugar levels, and helps maintain cardiovascular health, all of which are essential for a healthy pregnancy.

Overall, ensuring sufficient magnesium intake during pregnancy is crucial for supporting fetal development, reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, and promoting the health of both the mother and the baby. However, pregnant women should always consult with their healthcare provider before starting any new supplements to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure safety.

Can you take magnesium while pregnant?

Yes, magnesium supplements are safe and beneficial to take during pregnancy. 

However, like all supplements, it’s best to take them after consulting your doctor to determine the correct dosage and ensure they do not interact with any other medications you might be taking or interfere with any conditions you may have.

How do you know if you have enough magnesium?

Ensuring adequate magnesium intake during pregnancy is important for both maternal and fetal health. 

Magnesium is found in the blood as serum magnesium, which can be measured through a blood test. However, because magnesium is also present in the bones and tissues, a blood test may not accurately reflect the body’s magnesium reserves. Instead, healthcare providers typically assess magnesium status through a combination of factors, including dietary intake, symptoms of deficiency, and possibly blood tests.

If you are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, it is advisable to consult your doctor.

Signs you’re not getting enough magnesium

Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that you’re not getting enough magnesium:

  1. Muscle cramps and spasms: Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle function, and a deficiency can lead to muscle cramps and spasms.
  2. Fatigue and weakness: Magnesium is involved in energy production in the body. Low levels may contribute to feelings of fatigue and weakness.
  3. Nausea and vomiting: Magnesium deficiency can sometimes cause gastrointestinal issues, including nausea and vomiting.
  4. Irregular heartbeat: Magnesium is essential for maintaining a regular heartbeat. Low levels may lead to palpitations or irregular heart rhythms.
  5. High blood pressure: Some research suggests that low magnesium levels may be associated with high blood pressure.
  6. Mood changes: Magnesium is involved in regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, so a deficiency may contribute to mood changes such as anxiety or depression.
  7. Migraines: Some people with migraines may have low magnesium levels, and supplementation may help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.

Keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors, so if you suspect you may have a magnesium deficiency, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can recommend appropriate testing and provide guidance on supplementation if necessary.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Many signs indicate magnesium deficiency. Some of these are –

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Fatigue and sleepiness
  3. Migraines or headaches
  4. Anxiety or depression
  5. Vomiting and nausea
  6. Muscle cramps
  7. Abnormal heart rhythms
  8. Body weakness
  9. Constipation
  10. Tingling or numbness in your hands and legs
  11. Tremors

If you experience any of these symptoms or suspect magnesium deficiency, speak to your doctor.

How much magnesium is enough

Changing hormonal levels during pregnancy can affect magnesium levels, so your doctor might suggest taking magnesium supplements. The recommended dosage is usually 300 to 360 mg a day, as taking more could lead to magnesium toxicity.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to get the entire daily dose of magnesium from a supplement alone. A healthy, balanced pregnancy diet can also help maintain magnesium levels. Make sure to include plenty of beans, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet to ensure that your magnesium levels remain sufficient.

Does magnesium alleviate pregnancy symptoms?

Maintaining optimal magnesium levels during pregnancy is important, but how does magnesium help?

A 2017 study found that supplementation of magnesium may reduce the risk of some pregnancy complications such as low birth weight, preeclampsia, stillbirth, and low preterm weight. The study showed that –

  • Pregnant women are at high risk of magnesium deficiency; therefore, magnesium supplementation during this time is beneficial.
  • Magnesium supplementation may reduce the risk of fetal growth restrictions and preeclampsia (a blood pressure condition developed during pregnancy).

In another study, researchers discovered that magnesium could potentially play a crucial role in preventing premature contractions in the uterus, which are a significant factor contributing to premature labor.

Preeclampsia, a condition affecting around three to seven percent of pregnancies, presents as high blood pressure occurring after the 20th week of pregnancy. 

This condition carries various risks, including fetal growth restrictions, seizures (known as eclampsia), and placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus. Remarkably, findings from the study indicate that magnesium sulfate might offer substantial benefits in preventing preeclampsia, substantially reducing the risk of eclampsia, and even lowering the likelihood of maternal death by as much as 50%.

Moreover, gestational diabetes, a condition linked to increased chances of developing preeclampsia and requiring a cesarean birth, poses additional challenges during pregnancy. However, the study suggests that supplementation with magnesium could provide notable improvements in insulin production and enhanced control over glucose levels among pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

Thus, these insights underscore the potential importance of magnesium supplementation in promoting maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, addressing various complications such as premature contractions, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes.

Other benefits of magnesium supplementation

Magnesium is great for pregnancy outcomes and good for bone, muscle, and cardiovascular health. However, magnesium plays a crucial role in various other bodily functions  –

  • Mood support and sleep aid: It helps convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin, which is a mood booster, and melatonin, which aids in sleep. This suggests that magnesium may help in preventing postpartum depression.
  •  Relaxation and sleep promotion: Magnesium can help relax and de-stress the body, promoting sound sleep.
  • Muscle relief and cramp prevention: Magnesium also plays a role in muscle development and relaxation, potentially alleviating leg cramps during pregnancy.
  • Supporting hydration: Magnesium is linked to hydration as it enables the body to retain potassium, and, therefore, contributes to overall hydration.
  • Migraine relief: For pregnant women with a history of migraines, magnesium supplementation may offer a safe treatment, as migraines have been linked to magnesium deficiency and tend to increase during pregnancy.

Which magnesium supplement should you take?

There are various types of magnesium supplements available, each with different benefits. For example, magnesium glycinate can help alleviate headaches, while magnesium citrate or malate can assist with constipation. If you are experiencing multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency, magnesium oxide may be the best option for you.

It’s also important to consider whether to take pills or dissolvable forms of magnesium. Additionally, it’s worth noting that zinc can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium, so these two supplements should not be taken together. Ultimately, it’s important to discuss the type of magnesium supplement that is best for your health, especially if you are pregnant, with your healthcare provider.

Foods rich in magnesium

Consuming a variety of foods rich in magnesium is important during pregnancy to support maternal health and fetal development. Here are some magnesium-rich foods that can be incorporated into a pregnancy diet:

  1. Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens are excellent sources of magnesium. They are also packed with other essential nutrients like folate, which is crucial for fetal development.
  2. Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all good sources of magnesium. They can be eaten as snacks or added to salads, yogurt, or smoothies.
  3. Whole grains: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and whole wheat are rich in magnesium. They provide fiber and other nutrients that support overall health and digestion.
  4. Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are high in magnesium and also provide protein, fiber, and folate. They can be included in soups, stews, salads, and side dishes.
  5. Avocado: Avocado is not only rich in healthy fats but also contains magnesium. It can be added to sandwiches, and salads, or enjoyed as a spread on toast.
  6. Bananas: Bananas are a convenient and tasty source of magnesium. They also provide potassium, which helps maintain electrolyte balance in the body.
  7. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is a delicious way to increase magnesium intake. However, it should be consumed in moderation due to its calorie and sugar content.
  8. Fish: Some types of fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and halibut, contain magnesium. Fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for fetal brain development.

Incorporating these magnesium-rich foods into a balanced pregnancy diet can help ensure adequate magnesium intake and support overall health during pregnancy. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition recommendations during pregnancy.

Magnesium supplementation while pregnant can ensure you get the required amount for you and your baby. Magnesium supplements should be combined with proper prenatal nourishment to ensure a comfortable pregnancy and support the growth and 

development of your baby. When you find out you’re pregnant, discuss magnesium deficiency and supplementation with your doctor.


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