Magnesium During Pregnancy

~Order my ready-to-use magnesium lotion from my online store!~

MagLoDisclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner. This post simply contains my observations and thoughts on the topic, so please consult your doctor or midwife.

If you are a fan on my Facebook page, you probably saw several comments about my iron level during my last trimester. My iron ranged from around 8 1/2 to 9 1/2. Anything under 10 is considered anemic during pregnancy, so my midwife wanted me to try a few things to see if we could get it above ten. We tried EVERYTHING!

First, I started eating high-iron foods and taking spoonfuls of black-strap molasses. I made sure to have any high-calcium foods or grains at other times of the day, since they can interfere with iron absorption. I drank lots of my homemade pregnancy tea, which is high in iron. After a month, I had gone from about 8 1/2 to almost 9 1/2. This was actually pretty disappointing after all of the constant, daily effort. When I added up the amount of iron in my food and the molasses, I was well above my recommended daily allowance.

We wanted to speed things up, so I added a liquid iron and herb supplement. It tasted wicked nasty, but it had helped many other women, so I faithfully took it. My iron went down by a tenth of a point. Seriously?!

So, in desperation, I finally agreed to take iron pills. I, personally, am not a big believer in vitamin/mineral supplements… especially ones that are from dirt, when we should be getting our iron from food. In an effort to try to avoid the risk of going into shock in the case of a post-partum hemorrhage, I quit the liquid iron and took the iron capsules. My iron went down MORE!!! I immediately quit taking any iron supplement (if you aren’t properly absorbing it, that means you are improperly absorbing it, which can cause iron toxicity) and went back to just focusing on diet and herbs.

About a week after the last iron test, I texted my midwife. I was having the most horrid heartburn and couldn’t eat anything for three days. She asked if I had bought the magnesium powder she had recommended for leg cramps. I had, but I hadn’t yet taken any because of the heartburn. She told me that most heartburn in the third trimester is due to magnesium deficiency. While texting her, I took a dose and within half an hour the heartburn disappeared and has never come back! As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of isolated supplements, so I also started taking some powdered coral calcium to keep things in balance. The next morning, I received a blog post in my inbox about magnesium deficiency. Coincidence? 😉 After reading the post and noticing several possible symptoms of magnesium deficiency, I decided to do a little more digging into the topic… whenever I got the chance. Then, I forgot about it and just continued taking my calcium in the morning and magnesium at night. Until…

Just over a week later, I saw my midwife. She checked my iron. It was 11! We were shocked! I had been so focused on getting my hubby over a nasty virus before the baby’s arrival that, not only had I not been taking any iron supplementation at all, but I hadn’t even been very good about eating high-iron foods! I was sure it was the magnesium, but I wasn’t sure how…

If you google “iron and magnesium”, the only thing you will see is a warning that consuming magnesium with iron will decrease your iron absorption. Okay, but I wasn’t even taking iron and my iron level went up! So, I did a little more research on what, exactly, that 11 meant. Turns out that it is not actually an iron level, it is a “hemoglobin” level. Hemoglobin is a protein that contains iron. In order to make hemoglobin, you need… MAGNESIUM! That’s why my iron shot up so suddenly. I didn’t have low iron… I was probably getting too much, in fact! What I had was low hemoglobin due to a lack of an essential hemoglobin building block: magnesium.

Low hemoglobin is one of the many ways that a magnesium deficiency can cause fatigue. It turns out that magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. For example, we can get tons of calcium and still develop osteoporosis. That is because our bodies cannot absorb calcium properly without magnesium. There are tons of other examples that you can read about here. It’s also interesting to note that a person’s blood levels of magnesium can be “normal” when the person is actually low in magnesium. That is because the body works really hard to keep a steady level of magnesium in the blood, but most magnesium is in the bones and other parts of the body, not the blood. My question was, how can I be eating such a healthy diet and still be deficient in magnesium?

It turns out that there is a new book out on the subject. I haven’t read it, but you can order The Magnesium Miracle here, if you’re interested. The book is on my “to buy” list, considering the amazing results I’ve had with magnesium, so far! The review on the book says that we aren’t getting magnesium from our foods because most of our foods don’t have much magnesium in the first place. The soils are so depleted from over-farming and synthetic fertilizers that there is no magnesium for the plants to absorb. When we see that pumpkin seeds have x amount of magnesium per cup, that is very misleading. Under optimal conditions (fertile, organically farmed soil) they might, but how often are they really grown that way? The actual magnesium level for conventionally grown pumpkin seeds is most likely very low. Makes sense to me. I buy organic as much as possible, but there are often products (like pumpkin seeds) that I either can’t find organic or I just can’t afford.

So, here I am taking a magnesium supplement… and I’m good with that! As I write this post, I am still two days from my due date, and I’m hoping that my baby is benefiting from the magnesium (and a little extra calcium) by building strong bones and doing whatever else it is that a baby needs to do, at this point! I plan to continue with the magnesium supplement, but I will also be doing more research and making certain that I am making the best choices possible for myself and my baby.

{Update: I have since learned that topical application of a specific type of magnesium is the best way to absorb it! Magnesium flakes, which are magnesium chloride, can be put into a bath/foot bath or made into “magnesium oil” or a magnesium oil lotion. It’s easy to apply and raises magnesium levels more quickly and effectively than taking supplements.

I also learned that magnesium can prevent and reduce morning sickness! Read more about that, here.}

~Order ready-to-use magnesium lotion from our store!~

Have you taken magnesium? Did it make a noticeable difference?

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18 comments to Magnesium During Pregnancy

  • Kristie

    I take magnesium along with alot of other supplements. My doctor is treating me for lots of different issues. He is an integrated dr. so most of what I take is not prescription, but supplements. One question I thought of is-do you have any recommendations for types of magnesium or brands? What brand do you take?

    • Kristie

      I forgot to mention that my ferritin is very low (which is a measure of iron.) I have had some iron iv’s to help this.

      • One thing I’ve been learning about “low iron” is that most of the tests done are not very accurate by themselves. The ferritin test is an indirect measure of iron levels, just like the hemoglobin test I was having done. Although it is certainly possible for low ferritin to mean low iron, there are situations when it might not be accurate. There’s a chart at the bottom of this page that goes into detail. If your doctor hasn’t verified low iron with some of these other tests, you might want to request some of them to confirm the diagnosis.

    • The magnesium that I found at our local health food store is “Natural Vitality” Natural Calm. It is in a powdered form, so I just stir it into a little water and gulp it down (it’s pretty sour, but you can buy a flavored version). I chose this one because it is ionic, so it is very easily absorbed. I always know when I forget to take it, because I wake-up with leg and foot cramps early in the morning! 🙂

  • Ariane

    I started taking Magnesium supplement just as I entered my second trimester. My insomnia was horrible. At first I tried the pill form 250mg. But it seemed to be too much. I found out that taking a liquid you actually absorb better compared to pills. I now take at most 3/4 of teaspoon most nights and the dose for 300mg is a full tablespoon. So for each dose I take I am getting at most 75mg. Sometimes I worry about taking it, but it is such a small amount and I sleep well, have less heartburn than I did with my first pregnancy, and charlie horse pain is nonexistent. I am at 20 weeks and having a very active boy. I can remember when the insomnia started I prayed for an answer. I feel like I am making the right decision for us but it still bothers me that doctors can’t really say what I am doing is safe. But then I think about how low the dose is and that makes me feel better.

    • It sounds like you’re taking a good dose, Ariane. Those minerals are so important, especially when we’re growing little babies! I’ve started using liquid minerals in my water and I love how easily absorbed they are. Plus, I can’t even tell that they are there. If you start having diarrhea, that’s your body’s way of telling you you’re getting too much. Otherwise, just make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium in your diet or, if necessary, from a supplement like coral calcium.

      Blessings to you and your baby boy!

  • Melissa

    I was very interested in your comments about magnesium and heart burn! I have a two-year-old little boy with down syndrome who has been on acid reflux meds nearly since birth! I wonder if you (or any of your followers reading this) might know of any info out there that could help me find more info on GERD and how I can use a supplement instead of a chemical/prescription to treat him? I am concerned with the prescription interfering with his vitamin/mineral absorption. Thanks for this great post! I’m ordering magnesium flakes from your store today to try some lotion for myself, too!

    • Poor little guy! I will ask your question on my Facebook page today and see if any readers have wisdom for you. I’d suggest looking into the GAPS diet to see if it’s possible to heal whatever is wrong. If it’s a food sensitivity, that could work. If it’s a structural problem that lets the food come back up due to the way his esophagus is formed, that wouldn’t work. I would certainly try magnesium and some digestive enzymes, too.

      Have fun making lotion!!! It’s a blast! With summer weather coming, you’ll probably want to do the thinner version (using part grapeseed oil and less beeswax), since the cream I made is pretty thick. 🙂

      I’ll post back here if my other readers have ideas for you about natural GERD options.

  • I love Carolyn Dean’s Magnesium Miracle book. It’s partly responsible for my magnesium obsession. I have done a lot of reading and learning about magnesium, but I didn’t know this awesomeness you have shared! Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’ve shared your post on my facebook fanpage.

    • Thanks so much, Lani! I hope that many mamas-to-be get some good info that helps them. I’m excited about checking out your site!! I love all things birth related. 🙂

  • kim

    Hi there-
    I read somewhere that mixing epsom salts and water to create a spray would be comparable to using other magnesium sources such as the flakes. I am looking to stay as economical as possible. I am trying to prepare for my next pregnancy ahead of time to help alleviate the morning sickness, fatigue, etc. I would love to hear your thoughts, thanks!

    • From everything I’ve read, the magnesium in epsom salt just doesn’t have the potency of magnesium chloride flakes. For the most economical option, you can watch for a really good price on amazon (where I linked to for the magnesium chloride flakes) and order the flakes. Then, just make up a batch of magnesium oil yourself and put it in a spray bottle. The only problem is that it can really irritate the skin for some people, which is why I make mine into a lotion. You could also add the flakes to a bath or foot bath every day, instead. I hope that helps!! 🙂

  • Tabitha

    Magnesium is huge. I started using magnesium oil because if have gluten & prolamine sensitivity so I figured I was deficient. I also didn’t want to rely on oral delivery since my digestion is still healing. I didn’t notice too much except being a bit more regular until my period. No back aches or cramping. Your lotion allows me to put more on. I am now 23 weeks pregnant and have bypassed the whole morning sickness/nausea phase I went through with three other pregnancies. It’s miraculous stuff.

  • Belinda

    Hi there, If one is using Iron can Magnesium still be taken?

  • Jasmine

    Thanks so much for the info!!! I’m 6 weeks pregnant with my first child and I’m having such horrible nausea! I’ve come across a few articles talking about taking magnesium for pregnancy nausea. I didn’t catch this part: why is it important to take a calcium supplement when taking magnesium?

    • Congrats, Jasmine!! The reason that calcium is so important when using magnesium is that the two minerals need to stay balanced out. I prefer to eat calcium-rich foods and use a very natural calcium supplement instead of the cheap calcium from most stores, though. 🙂

  • Annalisa

    Thanks for your awesome article! I’ve been scouring the web for articles like this. I’ve always believed that we need to supplement our diet, there is no way we can get all the benefits just From food.
    I’ve taken a dose of magnesium for about 3 years. When I fell pregnant I stopped. I’m now 28 weeks, first baby and started taking half a tablet before bed. Ive just started getting small leg cramps just before I wake up and a little insomnia, sore middle back. If I wasn’t pregnant without hesitation I’d be on magnesium. After some research, this is what I’ve supplemented with to help remove these ailments.
    I’ve read that the floradix cal/mag liquid is great and the benefits of taking magnesium in the last trimester helps with labour and recovery.
    Hopefully it will do the trick!

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