Pregnant, or hope to get pregnant in the near future? Of the countless things on your ever-growing list of priorities, knowing which nutrients to take and/or increase during this stage of life should be near the top. One such nutrient is Magnesium, a mineral that each and every cell in the human body needs. Your Magnesium status while pregnant can even affect the baby’s health outcomes later in life.
If you’re wondering if you should take magnesium while pregnant, you are not alone. Ahead, discover need-to-know info about Magnesium for pregnancy, including benefits and how much you need daily. Plus: how to boost your intake of the mineral through food and magnesium supplementation.
Can You Take Magnesium During Pregnancy?
Yes, you can take Magnesium during pregnancy — so long as you keep a few important considerations in mind. To start, if you’re pregnant or plan to get pregnant soon, be sure to clear all dietary adjustments with your primary care physician and OB-GYN. You’ll also need to stay within the healthy bounds of sufficient Magnesium intake, which you’ll learn about shortly. (For instance, the FDA cautions against prolonged, off-label use of Magnesium Sulfate injections, as it runs the risk of preterm bone changes.)
All things considered, everyone — pregnant or not — requires Magnesium to support bodily functions. Taking the right amount of Magnesium while pregnant is generally safe and beneficial for the mother and baby alike.
The Benefits of Magnesium for Pregnancy
Generally speaking, there are many benefits of magnesium for the body. Taking Magnesium can promote a healthy pregnancy and full term, support fetal development, and promote the baby’s long-term health and well-being. All the while, adequate intake of the mineral may decrease the probability of experiencing complications during pregnancy.
Here’s what we know about the link between magnesium and pregnancy.
Healthy Fetal Growth
A 2014 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — which assessed the effects of Magnesium supplementation during pregnancy across 10 trials and over 9,000 women and their babies — uncovered a range of insights.
The findings show that Magnesium supplements for pregnancy:
- May help reduce growth restriction of the fetus
- May help avoid blood pressure (already within normal ranges) and protein in urine
- May help increase birth weight
- Did not demonstrate adverse effects for women or their babies
In addition, the authors expressed that many women — particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds — lack adequate Magnesium levels. Meanwhile, a 2015 review published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism cites that pregnant women (and their children under 5 years of age) are at the highest risk of micronutrient deficiencies worldwide. To avoid magnesium deficiency, talk to your doctor about taking supplemental magnesium on a regular basis.
A 2020 review published in Biological Trace Element Research affirms further benefits of Magnesium for pregnancy. These include:
- Healthy bone development and Calcium assimilation into bones
- Contributing to the activation of Vitamin D in the kidneys (explore the benefits
- Supporting muscle and nerve function
- Supporting blood pressure levels within normal ranges
Potential to Reduce Leg Cramps
As much as half of women experience leg cramps during pregnancy, which typically occurs at night during the second and third trimesters. It’s still unclear as to why leg cramps while pregnant are so common — but fortunately, taking sufficient Magnesium may help provide relief.
While existing research on Magnesium for leg cramps is mixed, the Mayo Clinic notes that the mineral has the potential to ease cramping in the calves and/or feet. Since Magnesium supports healthy muscle and nerve function, it makes sense it could help the legs loosen up after tensing. Even if it has a relatively small effect — as one 2022 study of 200 pregnant women found — it’s still a step in the right direction. (The Mayo Clinic also suggests that pregnant women who struggle with nocturnal leg cramps get 1,000 milligrams of Calcium daily, stay hydrated, and prioritize stretching.) At any rate, Magnesium still offers a range of benefits for mother and baby.
Magnesium is critical for brain health, including prenatal brain health. Per a review of research by HIE Health Center, Magnesium can offer neuroprotective effects for the expectant mother and baby in a number of ways. Though the exact mechanisms aren’t fully understood, experts hypothesize that Magnesium intake during pregnancy may:
- Normalize cerebral blood flow and stabilize blood pressure
- Stabilize membranes of neurons and inhibit excitatory neurotransmitters
- Offer protection against oxidative injury
Altogether, these occurrences can positively influence prenatal brain health, as well as reduce the risk of developing motor and muscular impairments.
Future Health Outcomes of the Baby
Getting enough Magnesium during pregnancy isn’t only crucial to support a healthy fetus. In fact, the Magnesium status of an expectant mother can affect birth outcomes as well as the baby’s long-term health span. For this reason, it’s essential to take an oral magnesium supplement if you have low magnesium levels.
Research shows that Magnesium deficiency while pregnant can lead to adverse changes in fetal growth and increase the chances of preterm labor. Plus, a 2015 review in the journal AIMS Public Health explains that a lack of adequate Magnesium during pregnancy “may be responsible for not only maternal and fetal nutritional problems, but also lifelong consequences that affect the offspring throughout their life.” Among them is the potential to increase the likelihood of developing major metabolic health issues in later life “by altering the epigenetic regulation of gene expression, thereby inducing different metabolic phenotypes.”
Simply put, Magnesium status has a major bearing on the well-being of the mother and fetus during pregnancy, as well as the baby’s health for decades to come.
How to Increase Magnesium Intake During Pregnancy
According to the NIH, pregnant women require 350 to 400 milligrams of Magnesium daily, with precise amounts varying by age. (For reference, adult women who are not pregnant or are lactating require 310 to 360 milligrams. It’s hypothesized that pregnant women may need about 10 percent more Magnesium than usual given all of the changes happening within the body.)
While pregnant, you can increase Magnesium intake by eating foods that contain the mineral or by adding supplemental Magnesium into your daily routine. In many cases, it would be beneficial to opt for both.
A variety of plant-based foods contain Magnesium, including:
- Fruits: bananas, berries, raisins
- Vegetables: broccoli, swiss chard, spinach (cooked), sweet corn, white potatoes (with the skin on)
- Legumes: black beans, edamame, soybeans
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
Protein-rich animal foods such as fish, seafood, and poultry also offer Magnesium. Bonus: If and when any pregnancy cravings for desserts take hold, the good news is that you can reach for dark chocolate. Per the USDA, an ounce of dark chocolate consisting of 70 to 85 percent cacao offers 65 milligrams of Magnesium. In other words, enjoying a square of dark chocolate daily can help you get around 17 percent of the RDA of the mineral.
These foods that contain Magnesium can very well be part of a healthy, varied diet. If you already eat them, that’s great. If not, you may wish to include more of them in your pregnancy dietary plan. MyPlate (a food guide created by the USDA) recommends that pregnant women stick to a diet rich in produce, legumes, and plant- and/or animal-based protein. Some of these food groups will not only contain Magnesium, but also important, diverse nutrients to nourish both mother and baby.
By and large, it’s ideal to take a food-first approach to get vitamins and minerals and to supplement as needed for extra support. However, Magnesium is a unique case since it can be difficult to get enough of the mineral through the aforementioned foods alone. That’s due to several factors — including some out of our control — such as:
- Depleted soil of modern food crops
- Water demineralization
- An inability to synthesize Magnesium in enough quantities
- Not consuming enough bioavailable types of Magnesium
Due to these reasons, you’ll likely want to take a Magnesium supplement while pregnant. Doing so can help ensure that you and your growing baby get enough of the mineral daily to yield the benefits of Magnesium for pregnancy listed above.
To adequately cover your bases, it can be helpful to take an oral Magnesium supplement for pregnancy. A Magnesium powder supplement may be especially beneficial for pregnant women — particularly those who are crunched for time, lack an appetite, or experience nausea — as you simply blend it with water and sip. Magnesi-Om® contains 3 bioavailable forms of Magnesium (Gluconate, Acetyl Taurinate, and Citrate), so you know you’re actually making good progress towards your RDA.
One serving (1 tsp) of Magnesi-Om® contains 310 milligrams of the mineral. Since pregnant women require 350 to 400 milligrams, you can aim to use a heaping teaspoon. Or, if your diet is abundant with the Magnesium-rich foods shared above, a single serving size may suffice.
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Taking Magnesium during pregnancy is associated with beneficial outcomes (and few adverse side effects for those who adhere to the RDA) for both mother and baby, which last far beyond childbirth.
Again, though taking Magnesium while pregnant is often recommended, be sure to clear your supplement regimen with your healthcare team. They can also help you decipher the other vitamins and minerals to prioritize while pregnant — including if a single prenatal supplement will adequately meet your personal needs — and provide tailored recommendations.