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Magnesium During Pregnancy

Nature's clever defense mechanisms mean that even mothers who eat less than ideal diets can grow healthy babies — by depleting the mom's reserves.

What role does magnesium play during pregnancy?

Nutritional deficiencies are always bad news, but pregnant women should take special care to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Thankfully for fetuses, nature’s clever defense mechanisms mean that even mothers who eat less than ideal diets can grow healthy babies — by depleting the mom’s reserves.

Magnesium and calcium are partners, and these two important minerals need to be present in the body in the right proportions for everything to function normally. In the west, most pregnant women get lots of calcium, but have a shortage of magnesium. What happens if there is a magnesium deficiency during pregnancy? And what can expectant mothers do to get enough magnesium?

maternal and fetal health during pregnancy

With this incredibly informative blog available to you, there’s obviously no need for me — as a guest blogger — to examine the huge number of roles magnesium plays in the human body. It’s clear that such an essential mineral plays a large role in maintaining both maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, and that a deficiency during the fetal stage can result in some long-term problems. Some of the less obvious symptoms of a magnesium deficiency in [non-pregnant] people can include headaches, depression and anxiety. Those, along with high blood pressure, muscle cramps, and other most famous symptoms of magnesium deficiency, are reason enough to make sure you get enough of the stuff.

But for women who are wondering how to get pregnant , or who are already expecting, taking another look at magnesium levels is an especially good idea. If you are low on magnesium, you’re actually less likely to conceive because of possible spasms in the fallopian tube. If you do get pregnant, your risk of having a miscarriage is higher and you are more likely to go into labor prematurely because of uterine hyperexcitability (in other words, an over-sensitive uterus). The life-threatening pregnancy complication preeclampsia is associated with a magnesium deficiency, and the same goes for gestational hypertension, as well as leg cramps and water retention.

baby handsScientists have suggested that a magnesium deficiency can lead to problems with regulating body temperature in babies, and that this can result in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)1. Other studies looked at the link between magnesium deficiency and IUGR, intrauterine growth restriction, with metabolic disorders potentially resulting — something that has consequences for the rest of a person’s life. The message is clear; magnesium is far too crucial to ignore. What can you do to make sure you get enough, while you are coping with pregnancy signs and symptoms? Here are some suggestions:

  • Foods rich in magnesium include whole grains and cereals, beans, leafy green vegetables, avocados, dried fruits, fish… there is really no shortage of magnesium-rich produce, but organic fruit and vegetables will give you more of it.
  • Avoid eating too much sugar, refined & processed foods, saturated fats and caffeine – that’s a great way to stay healthy when you’re pregnant, anyway!
  • Talk to your doctor about a good supplement.
  • Get enough sunlight — vitamin D increases magnesium absorption.


Olivia blogs about fertility, pregnancy and beyond at Trying To Conceive.


1. Bara M, Bertin R, Durlach J, Durlach V, Goubern M, Guiet-Bara A, Mettey R, Olive G, Rayssiquier D, & Ricquier D (1991). Magnesium Research. Magnesium and thermoregulation. I. Newborn and infant. Is sudden infant death syndrome a magnesium-dependent disease of the transition from chemical to physical thermoregulation?, Vol. 15, No. 3-4, pp. 259-78. PMID: 12635883