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Did you know that the mineral magnesium can help with a wide range of pregnancy symptoms? These include morning sickness, anxiety, ligament pain, muscle pain, headaches, back pain and insomnia.
The latest research shows that magnesium does in fact help to alleviate many common pregnancy problems, the most notable being preeclampsia.
Magnesium is a mineral which is vital for the function of the human body and is involved in over 300 processes.
Without it we wouldn’t be able to produce energy, metabolize insulin, or move our muscles effectively.
Reports suggest that nearly 60% of individuals in the US do not meet their daily needs of magnesium through a Standard American Diet (SAD) which is not surprising given the lack of nutrients it contains.
Our natural diet would consist of plenty of green plants and nuts which contain a lot of magnesium as well as other complimentary minerals such as calcium and chloride.
Also due to modern farming methods our soils are depleted which results in our food containing less minerals than it should.
Magnesium levels can also be lowered by some common medications such as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s).
Omeprezole and lansoprazole are two which are prescribed very frequently.
Magnesium in Pregnancy
During pregnancy magnesium requirements are higher so you will need more.
Magnesium plays an essential role in the body’s ability to adapt to the changes caused by a growing baby and deficiency (or to be more accurate insufficiency) could be responsible for the intensity of some common pregnancy symptoms such as:
- Ligament Pain
- Muscle Spasms
- Muscle Aches and Pains
- High blood pressure
Ideally magnesium is consumed through food.
Oral supplements can be taken to boost levels and recently there has been research into whether magnesium can be absorbed through the skin through bathing and magnesium oil sprays.
The evidence found that bathing in magnesium-rich Epsom salts does increase the magnesium levels in your blood by up to 25%.
This is good news because some types of oral magnesium supplements can upset your stomach.
At the end of this article you’ll find more details about how you can boost your magnesium intake when you’re pregnant.
But first, what are the benefits?
1. Magnesium Prevents insomnia
One of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency is insomnia, which is also a common symptom of pregnancy.
Although magnesium won’t stop your baby from keeping you up all night while she practices her kickboxing, upping your intake of this crucial mineral can help you sleep better.
It helps to maintain healthy levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which promotes deep, good quality sleep.
And you’re going to need as much deep sleep as you can get.
2. Relieves muscle Cramps, Spasms & aches
Magnesium is known to ease muscle cramps and is a good remedy if you keep getting those horrible charley horse cramps. During pregnancy it may reduce your chances of suffering from round ligament pain, which is caused by stretching of the muscles around the uterus as your baby grows.
Magnesium allows muscles to relax and stretch, which is important when your body is making space for a new little person to grow.
Aches and pains are common as you move closer and closer to your due date but a healthy balance of magnesium and calcium will ease the cramps and encourage flexibility.
3. Eases nausea
Although there are no scientific studies readily available to prove it, many women report that increasing their magnesium intake helps to reduce their morning sickness.
Nausea is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency pregnant or not so it’s possible that magnesium deficiency could make morning sickness worse.
4. Reduces the risk of premature labor
Because of magnesium’s function in relaxing and stretching the muscles some evidence suggests that it can help to prevent you from going into labor early.
Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium: while magnesium relaxes, calcium contracts.
This means that when your magnesium levels are balanced they could stop the uterus from starting to contract (and so inducing labor) prematurely.
5. Reduces stress and anxiety
Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency can actively cause anxiety where there wasn’t any anxiety before.
When you’re pregnant, your body’s resources focus on providing the fetus with the nutrients it needs and if your intake of vital minerals isn’t high enough to support this, you may become deficient.
This could contribute to feeling worried, stressed and anxious at a time when you already have lots of things to be concerned about.
So upping your magnesium to help to lower your stress levels is worthwhile.
6. Lowers blood pressure
Magnesium is known to lower blood pressure, and this is really important for pregnant women.
Preeclampsia is a dangerous pregnancy complication that affects around 8% of women, and is diagnosed by a combination of high blood pressure and proteins in a urine sample.
An extensive study of the medical records of women after they had their babies showed that those who took a magnesium supplement during pregnancy were less likely to get preeclampsia.
Good Sources of magnesium
Now you know that magnesium is very important for a healthy pregnancy but how do you make sure you’re getting enough?
There are a number of ways to boost your intake starting very simply with the food you eat.
Adding two or more daily servings of magnesium-rich foods to your diet is an extremely healthy and completely safe way to raise your levels naturally. And getting your vitamins and minerals in food is always preferable to supplementation.
That’s because foods naturally contain a variety of complimentary vitamins and minerals in just the right amounts.
Foods with a high magnesium content include:
- Green leafy vegetables (think spinach, kale, and cabbage)
- Other green veggies (broccoli, green beans, artichoke)
- Bran Cereal
- Cow’s Milk
- Nuts and seeds
- Some seafood, like salmon and mackerel
- Dark chocolate
Oral Magnesium Supplements
Oral supplements are a quick and easy way to consume more magnesium if your diet is poor or you’re struggling to eat due to nausea.
You can buy magnesium supplements over the counter in a pharmacy but we recommend checking with your doctor before you start taking them.
People with kidney problems should not take magnesium supplements and there may be other reasons that taking extra magnesium is not recommended.
If you get the go ahead, there are a few different forms of oral magnesium supplements to choose from including citrate, glycinate and malate, plus natural options.
You can learn more about the types of magnesium here.
The recommended daily amount of magnesium for healthy women is 310 mg and pregnant women need around 360 mg.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate crystals, and as mentioned earlier you can increase your blood magnesium levels with them.
Run a bath and add a big scoop of Epsom salts, and then enjoy the warm salty water for 10-20 minutes.
Magnesium spray is the preferred method for supplementation for many moms-to-be because it’s easy to use and doesn’t affect your stomach.
It’s available to buy in many health food stores and through online retailers. I usually buy this brand on Amazon as it’s great value.
Magnesium spray is a combination of concentrated magnesium oil and water mixed in a spray bottle, you can spray onto your skin after a shower or bath and the mineral will be absorbed into your system.
Start filling your shopping basket with leafy greens and avocados and draw yourself a nice relaxing bath with Epsom salts.
The physical effects of more magnesium will contribute to a healthy and maybe even enjoyable pregnancy, and you’ll feel better for doing something proactive to look after yourself and your baby too.