The mineral magnesium performs many important tasks in our body. Apart from its stabilizing function in our bone formation, it regulates the energy metabolism in our cells and is involved in the activation of over 600 enzymes, as has recently become known. A well-adjusted magnesium balance makes us more stress-resistant and even-tempered, as it regulates the cardiovascular system and ensures healthy blood pressure. Magnesium is important for women when they are not pregnant because a balanced magnesium level contributes to loosen cramps and alleviate menstrual pain, among other things.
How does a magnesium deficiency affect pregnancy?
Many pregnant women complain about calf cramps and vague abdominal pain that can occur as a consequence of magnesium deficiency. Other magnesium deficiency symptoms are strong palpitations and exhaustion. All of them are not, as such, a reason to start worrying yet, but you should nonetheless listen to your body’s signals and possibly undergo a test for magnesium deficiency. If strong magnesium deficiency occurs during pregnancy, a contracted womb cannot relax any longer. Consequently, there are cramps that could trigger premature contractions – and lead to premature delivery in serious cases. When there is magnesium deficiency the balancing effect on the cardiovascular system ceases and the risk for pregnancy hypertension rises.
Importance of Magnesium during Pregnancy
- Magnesium is an essential mineral, which plays a vital role in maintaining both maternal and fetal health during pregnancy.
- Magnesium is essential for repairing and building body tissues during pregnancy.
- The role of magnesium and calcium are interconnected: when the magnesium relaxes muscles, the calcium stimulates muscles to contract. Therefore, by ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium during pregnancy helps to prevent the uterus from premature contractions.
- Magnesium helps in controlling maternal blood sugar levels by regulating insulin
- Magnesium helps in protecting the mother from preeclampsia – a life-threatening pregnancy complication.
- It is found that the babies born to mothers who ensured sufficient magnesium intake during pregnancy are less prone to perinatal hypoxia, which is a condition that arises due to oxygen deprivation to the brain and tissues during delivery
Which foods contain magnesium?
Nuts and seeds have the highest amount of magnesium – the leaders being sunflower seeds and linseed, with 420 and 350 mg of magnesium for each 100 g. However, wheat germ and oats also have respectable quantities of magnesium. One portion of colorful muesli a day – maybe with two added banana slices (45 mg of magnesium for each 100 g of bananas) – already takes care of most of the daily magnesium dose, especially when one or two glasses of magnesium-rich mineral water are taken. Nonetheless, every third woman does not reach the recommended values because our body cannot utilize magnesium from plant-based foods. The reason is that the phytates commonly found in plant-based foods bind the magnesium taken with the diet and we directly excrete most of it.
Side effects of magnesium during pregnancy
Healthy individuals excrete the excess of magnesium in the blood through the kidneys and into the urine. If you take a lot of magnesium all at once, one part of the dose moves through the intestine untouched and is once again excreted with the stool – because less is absorbed as the intake increases. This can even lead to a side effect, namely that magnesium’s slightly laxative effect mitigates constipation that often occurs during pregnancy. Taking small doses of magnesium throughout the day can easily prevent this side effect. For example, effervescent granulate can be dissolved in 500 to 750 ml of water and taken over the course of the day. Alternatively, and in consultation with your physician, suitable medicines or food supplements containing not too high doses can also be taken throughout the day.