Magnesium can help make the most wonderful time of your life more enjoyable
Pregnancy is perhaps the only time when you will feel good about gaining a few kilos as an adult. It is also the most significant time of your adult life and a time to prepare yourself mentally and physically to accommodate a new baby in your life. Do not let niggling physical problems like constipation, cramps, high blood pressure and stress take away from the joy of preparation for the new baby.
One good way is to take good care of your diet and nutrition. The healthy growth and development of the foetus depends on a steady supply of nutrients from the mother. Your doctor will probably put you on a prenatal multivitamin and calcium supplements as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed. Research has also shown that adding magnesium to your diet can have an immense beneficial impact on your pregnancy.
A Swedish study concluded in 1996 [Dahle LO, Berg G, Hammar M, Hurtig M, Larsson L] found that oral magnesium supplementation helps treat pregnancy-related leg cramps. 73 women with pregnancy-related leg cramps were studied and it was found that serum magnesium levels in patients who suffered severe leg cramps were at or below the lower reference limit. The control group who were put on oral magnesium supplementation showed decreased leg cramp distress.
Another study published in British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (August 2007) examined the effect of magnesium supplementation and the development of hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) or Perinatal hypoxia in babies. HIE is the reduction of oxygen supply to tissues and the brain due to inadequate blood flow and has symptoms like decelerated fetal heart rate, low Apgar Scores, meconium aspiration pneumonia and stillbirths. Perinatal hypoxia during birth was less in the women who took the magnesium supplements when pregnant. 
And in the 2009 Cochrane Review, leading researchers from Australia found that giving pregnant mothers magnesium sulphate when they are at risk of preterm birth, can help protect their babies from cerebral palsy 
What makes Magnesium Magical during Pregnancy?
Magnesium is essential in many bodily functions. Magnesium helps build strong bones and teeth, regulates insulin and blood-sugar levels, and helps certain enzymes function properly. It also controls cholesterol and irregular heart beats. During pregnancy your body needs more of this mineral. Physical and emotional stress during pregnancy also increases magnesium requirements.
RDA recommends about 375 mg of magnesium daily for pregnant women. Pregnant women who do not intake sufficient amounts of magnesium, are at a risk of becoming magnesium deficient. Deficiency of magnesium during pregnancy can lead to many serious consequences for you and your baby. And a severe deficiency of magnesium during pregnancy may lead to preeclampsia, birth defects, infant mortality and pre-mature labour. (Read more about prevention and management of preeclampsia with magnesium here.)
Enough magnesium in your diet during your pregnancy will make you feel healthier and help you cope better with discomforts related to increased hormonal activity. Magnesium also has the following beneficial effects on you and your yet-to-be-born baby:
- Builds/Repairs body tissue: Magnesium does wonders for the bone density of your baby and helps build better teeth. It also works to regulate your insulin and blood-sugar levels. Certain enzymes also function better in the presence of magnesium.
- Good Cardiovascular Health: Magnesium controls cholesterol and irregular heartbeats.
- Calcium Synthesis: Magnesium and calcium work very well together when present in a good balance (1:2). Magnesium relaxes the muscles, while calcium stimulates muscles to contract. Adequate levels of magnesium during pregnancy help keep the uterus from contracting until week 35.
- Decreases risk of Osteoporosis: Adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium during pregnancy can actually decrease your risk of osteoporosis later in life.
- Stress-relief: Magnesium is invaluable if you are suffering from stress. It also provides relief from insomnia. For a good sleep, take it as a supplement about an hour before going to bed.
- Reduces cramping: Magnesium can help reduce cramping and also decreases the intensity of Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Laxative: Magnesium also works as a mild laxative and can be used to provide relief in case you suffer from constipation during pregnancy.
- Prepares your body for delivery: Magnesium optimizes blood pressure levels during pregnancy and increases your pain tolerance threshold, making for a more comfortable delivery.
How can I Add Magnesium to my Pre-natal Diet
Disclaimer: Your doctor will probably put you on a prenatal multivitamin and calcium supplements as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed. Prenatal vitamin tablets include magnesium, but in very low doses. If you are worried that you may not be getting enough magnesium in your diet, then you can add magnesium-rich foods to your diet. It also makes sense to take a magnesium supplement like Mag365 or for Magnesium Rub or Magnesium Gel. Magnesium Rub is a sea-water concentrate which can be applied directly to your skin for transdermal absorption for maximum benefit.
The information in this article is meant for information purposes only and is not prescriptive. We recommend that you consult with your doctor before you introduce magnesium supplements into your diet, especially if you have severe kidney disease or are taking hypoglycaemic drugs. If you do take a magnesium supplement, be aware that it can inhibit the absorption of iron, so it should not be taken within two hours of taking an iron supplement.
- The effect of oral magnesium substitution on pregnancy-induced leg cramps: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7631676
- Dahle LO, Berg G, Hammar M, Hurtig M, Larsson L., Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Link
- Doyle et al. Magnesium sulphate for women at risk of preterm birth for neuroprotection of the fetus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Reviews, 2009, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004661 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004661.pub3