Magnesium While Pregnant
Did you know that it is so important to take magnesium while pregnant? It wasn't until I was severely deficient this recent pregnancy that I truly appreciated how important it is. Most people are aware that magnesium has a role in muscle relaxation, and it is a commonly suggested remedy for muscle cramps. But it does so much more than that!
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is required as a nutrient for over 300 chemical reactions in the body! Without magnesium, a lot of these reactions come to a halt, meaning your body won't be functioning at its optimum.
Magnesium is involved in:
- Energy production for the cells
- Maintaining healthy and stable blood sugars
- Healthy muscle and nerve functioning
- Creation of DNA and RNA
- Regulation of cholesterol production
- Estrogen metabolism
- Vitamin D function
- Antioxidant production (such as glutathione)
- Regulation of cortisol (your stress hormone)
It is an essential mineral that must be supplied by the diet. Your body cannot create it's own magnesium. It is very easy to deplete your magnesium stores with a modern lifestyle, and many women are unknowingly low in magnesium before they even fall pregnant. Factors leading to low magnesium include a high protein or carbohydrate diet, leaky gut (as you won't absorb it from your diet), and stress. Not to mention a cause of rapid magnesium depletion - pregnancy!
So picture this... you're aware you've got leaky gut. You're stressed about general life. You love your daily coffee and also love to eat carbs (who doesn't?) but you know you eat too many... Then you find out you're pregnant. See how easy it can be to begin your pregnancy low in magnesium, and without knowing to take additional magnesium while pregnant, you can go your entire pregnancy suffering from symptoms of magnesium depletion, when you don't have to!
Needing magnesium while pregnant
When we cover all the functions of magnesium, not only can we see it is imperative to a healthy body but also essential for a healthy pregnancy.
- Creation of DNA and RNA - this is literally how you make your baby.
- Energy production for the cells - magnesium can help provide energy for pregnant women (cos we all know how tiring pregnancy can be!)
- Maintaining healthy blood sugars - in fact, some studies on magnesium supplementation for women with gestational diabetes has show just how rapidly it can improve blood sugar readings. That's not to say it will work on every woman, because it's only going to work if you're already not getting enough magnesium from your diet. However, imagine if every pregnant woman knew to take more magnesium while pregnant, and subsequently lowered their risk of gestational diabetes! Even better if every woman knew to ensure she was taking magnesium when trying to conceive.
- Vitamin D utilisation - so many women are low in vitamin D, I'm sure you've heard of someone who needed extra vitamin D while they were pregnant. But without adequate magnesium, they will not use their vitamin D properly. Makes sense to ensure you've got enough magnesium so that you can at least use the vitamin D you have got in your body.
- Estrogen metabolism - there are some thoughts that morning sickness comes from having too high estrogen and cortisol. Estrogen needs magnesium to be broken down and excreted from the body properly, so if you don't have enough magnesium, you might have higher estrogen and trouble removing it from your body. This might increase the risk or symptoms of morning sickness.
- Antioxidant production - this is important in everyday life, but also very important when cells are rapidly dividing. Antioxidants basically clean up all the free radicals and byproducts from cell metabolism and cell division. So when you think how quickly your baby is growing on a cellular level, you want to make sure there are enough antioxidants. Enter magnesium!
- Muscle and nerve function - if your muscles and nerves aren't functioning at their best, you might get cramps, or restless legs, or constipation (your bowel is a muscle too). These symptoms are often exacerbated during pregnancy and might be easily helped by ensuring you've got enough magnesium in your system.
Is it safe to take magnesium while pregnant?
Yes. Magnesium is an essential mineral, needed for your pregnant body to function at it's optimum. There is no need to worry about it's safety while pregnant.
Side effects from taking too much magnesium are usually noticed with loose stools, as your body will expel excess through the bowels. Anything your body cannot absorb will be released through your bowels.
Which magnesium supplement should i take while pregnant?
Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin. This is often wonderful news to a pregnant woman's ears, especially if they're suffering from morning sickness and they can't stomach the thought of taking a supplement! The easiest way to absorb magnesium is to have a magnesium bath or foot soak, or to use a magnesium cream or oil on the bottom of your feet. All of these options are safe during pregnancy and for children too. The magnesium absorbs directly through the skin into the bloodstream, giving your cells instant access to energy, antioxidants and more! You're also less likely to have any tummy upsets when you take it through the skin.
How much magnesium supplement to take
The upper limit of magnesium from supplements is about 350mg a day. However, you've got to listen to your own body with this one. If you're severely depleted, you might need more to begin with until you have balanced out your levels, then a smaller dose to maintain it. You will know when you've had too much because you will experience bowel symptoms.
For myself, I was using one magnesium foot soak each day, as well as using a magnesium chloride cream on my feet each night before bed. This was enough for me to reduce my symptoms, to the point that towards the end of my pregnancy I reduced the frequency of both to once every 2-3 days. However I was listening to my own body, and this is definitely not a prescription for you to do exactly the same dose as I did.
epsom salt vs magnesium chloride
The main difference between these two - ie magnesium sulphate (epsom salt) and magnesium chloride - is that the latter is absorbed much more easily into the blood and utilised by the cells. In fact, magnesium chloride is said to be up to 5 times stronger than epsom salts!
The sulphate in epsom salts is detoxifying, and it binds to toxins in the body to assist excretion through the kidneys. Because it is strongly detoxifying, the magnesium attached to sulphate in epsom salts is not easily absorbed into the body as a source of magnesium.
There are now many suppliers of magnesium chloride bath flakes, but most are industrial grade and not food grade. The source of the water supply and the method of extraction generally determines the quality of the salts. Please be careful with where you access your salts, and ask questions about their quality.
where to buy magnesium
I have been so inspired by the importance of magnesium while pregnant that I have created my own Wild & Free Organics magnesium range. We currently have two products on offer - the magnesium and mineral soak, and the magnesium cream. It is entirely personal preference as to which on you'd choose, as they are both absorbed through the skin. And for those of you wanting more of a detox soak, our citrus body scrub and soak uses epsom salts to give you a lovely detoxifying bath (not recommended for pregnancy but definitely a great mama pamper idea).
You can check out our shop here or have a look at the products I recommend below.
Set of three - a truly perfect gift for a pregnant mother.
+ Magnesium and rose soak - this is wonderful for trimester one, as pregnancy depletes your magnesium pretty quickly. Used as a bath or foot soak.
+ Mama & Baby belly oil - this is so good for trimester 3 bellies, and the leftover oil can be used as a baby massage oil!
+ Belly butter - this is great for trimester 2, and also trimester 3 if cream is preferred over oil.
All certified organic ingredients, completely vegan.
This organic combo is the perfect scrub turned soak! First you scrub yourself with the body scrub, then you throw the bath sachet into the bath tub and jump in (salt scrub still on you!). Relax in a beautiful citrus scented salt bath. Great for exfoliation and detoxification all in one!
Ingredients (all certified organic): Scrub - Australian pink salt, sweet almond oil, mandarin essential oil. Salt bath - Epsom salt, Australian pink salt, dried orange peel (when in stock).
Soak not suitable during the first trimester of pregnancy. Post-partum - not to be used during first 6 weeks. Mandarin oil (diluted) might help infants with colic (as may low dose magnesium and salt soaks). Use with caution.