Magnesium deficiency may occur during pregnancy and breastfeeding because the baby’s growth increases the magnesium demand. It has been shown that blood concentrations of magnesium are decreased during pregnancy; therefore, it is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers ensure they consume enough magnesium daily.
The magnesium link
Magnesium helps the muscle to relax after contraction. In magnesium deficiency, muscle excitability increases, which leads to an uncontrolled tightening of the muscles and results in painful muscle and calf cramps. Besides conventional nocturnal calf cramps, muscle cramps can also occur in the feet, toes or hands. During breastfeeding, mothers not only provide their baby with security, protection and lots of love but also help the baby to develop a resistant immune system with breast milk. For a healthy start in life, breastfeeding women should also ensure an adequate intake of minerals, such as magnesium.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should ensure a high magnesium intake in their diet, available from foods and magnesium supplementation
Possible signs of magnesium deficiency in pregnancy and lactation
• Muscle and calf cramps
• Muscular tension
• Muscle twitches
• Complications, such as pre-eclampsia and premature labour
If you suspect a magnesium deficiency because of the symptoms described, please talk to your health care professional.
Magnesium and pregnancy complications
About 10% of pregnant women have elevated blood pressure from the 30th week of pregnancy, which left untreated can lead to a serious pregnancy condition called pre-eclampsia. Research has shown that pregnant women with pre-eclampsia have significantly lower magnesium levels, compared to women with a normal course of pregnancy, with magnesium supplementation reducing the risk of contracting this condition by 34%.
How much magnesium do you need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium in pregnancy is 400mg, and in lactation it is 360mg. According to the recommendation by the Society for Magnesium Research all pregnant women should supplement with 400mg of elemental magnesium daily.
What is the preferred form of magnesium to take?
Not all magnesium supplements are the same. The ideal supplement is magnesium citrate, which is found naturally in the body and so is well tolerated and fast-acting. Water-soluble magnesium citrate taken as a drink helps to increase the absorption of magnesium across the intestinal wall and into the cells, where magnesium is needed the most.
Studies also show that magnesium supplementation can reduce premature labour-related hospitalisations by up to 54%.