Magnesium in Pregnancy: What Can It Do? - Baby Chick

Magnesium in Pregnancy: What Can It Do?

Explore the importance of magnesium during pregnancy for mom and baby and discover where to find it in different foods.

Updated December 11, 2023

by Jamie Adams

Registered dietitian and Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor, MS, LDN
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Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in many bodily functions, and its importance is magnified during pregnancy. Getting adequate magnesium in pregnancy is vital for the health of both the mom and her baby. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, prevents preterm labor, reduces leg cramps, improves bone health, and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.3

Curious whether you are consuming adequate magnesium during pregnancy and how you can get more of it? In this article, we will explore the role of magnesium in pregnancy, how much magnesium you need during pregnancy, and where to find magnesium in different foods.

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is essential in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function and building strong bones. It also regulates blood sugar levels and blood pressure and plays a role in producing energy and protein.1,2,3

Magnesium can be found in many foods, including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. It can also be obtained through supplements, although getting nutrients through a balanced diet is generally recommended.3

The Importance of Magnesium in Pregnancy

Magnesium is essential for bone, muscle, and cardiovascular health and is particularly important in pregnancy. Magnesium can provide many benefits throughout pregnancy, including:

  • Helps regulate blood pressure: Magnesium can help regulate blood pressure, which is vital as high blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous for both the mother and baby.3,4
  • Reduces leg cramps: Magnesium may help reduce leg cramps common during pregnancy.5
  • Improves bone health: Magnesium is essential for building strong bones, which is important for the developing fetus and the mother.1
  • Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and improves glycemic control in gestational diabetes: Studies have suggested that magnesium may help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes. This condition can develop during pregnancy and affect both the mother and baby. For those with gestational diabetes, supplemental magnesium positively affects insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.6,7,8

How Much Magnesium Do You Need in Pregnancy?

Your need for magnesium in pregnancy increases slightly. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily intake of magnesium during pregnancy is:3

  • 350 mg/day for pregnant women aged 19-30
  • 360 mg/day for pregnant women aged 31-50

However, pregnant women with certain medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, may require higher doses of magnesium under the guidance of their healthcare provider.3

Ways to Add Magnesium to Your Diet

Magnesium is found in a variety of plant and animal foods. Magnesium is commonly found in green leafy vegetables and added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods.

Foods rich in magnesium include:3

  • Pumpkin seeds: 156 mg per 1 ounce
  • Almonds: 80 mg per 1 ounce
  • Spinach: 78 mg per ½ cup
  • Cashews: 74 mg per 1 ounce
  • Avocado: 22 mg per ½ cup
  • Black beans: 60 mg per ½ cup
  • Edamame: 50 mg per ½ cup
  • Salmon: 26 mg per 3 ounces

Other foods that are good sources of magnesium include whole grains, dark chocolate, chia seeds, bananas, and peanuts.

Should You Use Magnesium Supplements?

Obtaining nutrients through foods first is always best rather than relying on supplements. However, some people may have difficulty meeting their daily magnesium needs through diet alone or may have a medical condition requiring higher magnesium doses. Whether or not to use supplements depends on your needs and circumstances and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.3

Your healthcare provider can help you determine if supplements are necessary and, if so, what dosage is appropriate for you. It’s essential to note that taking excessive amounts of magnesium supplements can lead to adverse side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Additionally, certain medications can interact with magnesium supplements, so it’s essential to disclose all medications and supplements to your healthcare provider.3

What Do Magnesium Supplements Help With?

Supplemental magnesium may provide various health benefits, depending on your circumstances and needs. When taken under the guidance of your healthcare provider, additional magnesium supplementation during pregnancy may help with the following:

  • Improved sleep: Some studies show magnesium may help regulate the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Taking magnesium supplements may help improve the quality and duration of sleep.9
  • Relieve muscle cramps: Magnesium is involved in muscle function and can help prevent and relieve muscle cramps. If you struggle with restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, discuss with your healthcare provider whether you may benefit from taking magnesium supplements.3
  • Promote bone health: Magnesium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones, and taking magnesium supplements may help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.3
  • Regulate blood pressure: Magnesium supplements may help regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension during pregnancy.3

Again, it is essential to note that the benefits of magnesium supplements may vary depending on an individual’s needs and circumstances, and excessive intake of magnesium supplements can be harmful. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before taking magnesium supplements to determine if they are necessary.3

Magnesium in pregnancy is essential. While it can be obtained through a balanced diet, some pregnant women may need to supplement their intake under the guidance of a healthcare provider. It is vital to note that excessive magnesium supplements can be harmful, and you should always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

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Jamie Adams
Jamie Adams Registered dietitian and Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor, MS, LDN
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Jamie Adams is a mom, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Prenatal Yoga Teacher who specializes in women's health, infant, and pediatric nutrition. She holds a master's degree in clinical nutrition from… Read more

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