As doulas, we cannot provide medical advice nor prescribe anything. However, we can provide general information about nutrition and wellness during pregnancy. Magnesium during pregnancy is a topic which may come up frequently with clients.
Being familiar with evidenced based information regarding supplements and nutrition is important. Again, you cannot prescribe or make specific dietary recommendations to an individual, but you can educate about general wellness.
So, what should a doula know about magnesium during pregnancy?
Magnesium During Pregnancy
The field of nutrition is a growing one and something we are learning more about each day. While the evidence changes regarding the exact amount needed of different nutrients, best sources of nutrition, and the proper balance in diets, we do know magnesium is an important part of the human diet.
We also know there are benefits of maintaining adequate magnesium intake during pregnancy. Here are 6 FAQs answered:
#1: What Is Magnesium?
When you think of magnesium, you might think of Epsom salt or that drug they give for pregnancy hypertensive disorders.
Magnesium is available in a variety forms with a variety of uses. However, when we are looking at intake during pregnancy, we are looking at magnesium which occurs naturally in foods, or as an oral supplement.
Magnesium is a mineral which is abundant in our body. It is also something we need to regularly consume to remain healthy. It plays a big role in several body systems.
#2: Why Is Adequate Magnesium Intake Important For A Healthy Pregnancy?
Adequate magnesium intake is important to help your body function its best. During pregnancy, we want the body to be at its best. This gives both mother and baby the best chance at a healthy pregnancy, birth and recovery.
The body needs adequate magnesium to:
- Maintain healthy brain function
- Help the heart function properly
- Regulate muscle function and prevent cramping
- Help overall cardiovascular health
- Aid in healthy blood sugar control and the metabolism
- Help with sleep quality
In addition to the above, during pregnancy, the body needs adequate magnesium to:
- Aid in muscle function, including possibly reducing the risk of preterm labor contractions
- Reduce the risk of and frequency of muscle cramps and restless leg syndrome
- Maintain healthy blood pressure
- Reduce pregnancy nausea
- Reduce overall risk of pregnancy complications
- Lower baby’s risk of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
- Improve fetal blood circulation
#3: How Much Magnesium Is Needed During Pregnancy?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium depends on age, sex, and pregnancy status.
For females aged 14-18 the RDA is 360 and during pregnancy it increases to 400. Females aged 19-30 the RDA is 310 and increases to 350 during pregnancy. Finally, females aged 31-50 the RDA is 320 and increasing to 369 during pregnancy.
Knowing these values helps you educate clients about the importance of paying attention to food labels and supplement labels. Learning about the nutritional value of natural foods can help people get adequate nutrition during pregnancy.
Remind clients they do not need to stress or obsess over food each day. However, keeping a general eye on overall nutrition during pregnancy is beneficial.
#4: Should Magnesium Supplements Be Taken During Pregnancy, Are They Safe?
Some of the benefits of magnesium during pregnancy listed above are based on studies on magnesium supplements during pregnancy.
Overall, magnesium supplements are considered safe during pregnancy. However, it can be beneficial for clients to track their diet for a few days to see if they’re getting plenty in their regular diet.
It is important to look at any multivitamins taken before adding additional supplements. You should always direct clients to talk to their maternity care provider about vitamins and supplements.
Consuming too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, lethargy, muscle weakness and other issues so it’s important to take any supplements as directed.
#5: Which Foods Contain Magnesium?
Vitamins and supplements may play a role in an overall healthy diet for some individuals. However, in many cases, our bodies absorb and respond to nutrients best when we consume them via natural foods.
There are many food sources for magnesium including:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Dark chocolate
- Legumes, nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Some fatty fishes such as salmon and halibut
Meal replacement and protein shakes and powders often have magnesium as well. Protein bars, fortified cereals and grains, and some other packaged foods often contain magnesium. While it is difficult to consume too much magnesium to get ill, be cautious consuming supplements while also using shakes, powders or bars containing added minerals.
#6: What Are Symptoms Of Magnesium Deficiency During Pregnancy?
Depending on dietary habits, level of morning sickness and pre-pregnancy health, some clients could be suffering from a magnesium deficiency.
As noted above, magnesium plays an important role in overall health and in pregnancy outcomes. It is important to get adequate magnesium and when one does not, they might suffer some side effects. As a doula, you will never diagnose or treat for a deficiency. You can, however, provide information about nutrition and possible signs of deficiencies. Then direct clients to speak with their provider about any concerns.
Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular heartbeat
If you’re anything like myself, you just read that list and thought, “Aren’t those just symptoms of pregnancy?”
Yes, it seems symptoms of low magnesium are remarkably similar to common pregnancy ailments. Most pregnancy symptoms are related to hormone changes. However, the demands of pregnancy can make it easy to fall behind on necessary nutrition.
Again, as a doula you do not diagnose. You can simply educate clients about nutrition and redirect them to their providers.
Looking to provide even more information to your clients? Become a Perinatal Nutrition Educator today!