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Magnesium in Pregnancy

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Pregnancy and Magnesium

Magnesium in pregnancy: introduction

Magnesium is considered a very important mineral in pregnancy.

On the other hand, as we will see later, this statement can be considered misleading, since each nutrient performs indispensable and irreplaceable functions. However, only in certain cases, increasing the intake of magnesium during pregnancy can prove to be not only useful but even necessary. Let's see why.

General information on magnesium

Magnesium (Mg++) is a nutritional mineral that belongs to the group of microelements. It performs many functions, including participation in enzymatic reactions, the excitability of nerve and muscle membranes, thermoregulation, protein and nucleic acid synthesis, synaptic transmission, alkalinization, modulation of blood pressure, etc. Magnesium is mainly contained in foods of plant origin, such as legumes, vegetables, whole grains, sweet fruits, oil seeds, algae and cocoa. Absorption occurs in the small intestine and is hindered by the presence of calcium. It is also subject to the influence of certain anti-nutritional agents such as phytates; on the other hand, it has a positive effect on the absorption of the plasma content of vitamin D. The main excretion routes are urine and faeces, but vomiting also causes its elimination from the body. Magnesium deficiency manifests itself with nausea, vomiting, anorexia, muscle cramps, vasodilation, cardiac arrhythmia and coma; the excess does not occur in people with normal kidney function. During pregnancy it also performs other roles, most of which are preventive. Let's look at them in more detail.

Requirements during Pregnancy

Importance of magnesium in pregnancy

Magnesium is therefore a very important mineral. In truth there is no nutrient mineral “properly” more important than the other; they are all essential, with some exceptions represented by microelements whose role in health is not yet well defined.

We have already mentioned the main functions of magnesium, but not the specific (or presumed such) functions in pregnancy which, moreover, are often confused with each other. It is in fact a common misunderstanding to mix the prevention of deficiency effects with what should be the effects of an increase in intake beyond the norm.

Since this is a fairly complex topic, to make it easier to understand, below we will propose a practical example:

  • Magnesium has an alkalizing effect. It is an absolute characteristic; Magnesium has an alkalizing power whether it is introduced in small or large quantities. Then, the healthy organism is capable of managing nutritional excesses and defects by regulating absorption and excretion, taking it from bone or eliminating it in the urine. The alkalizing characteristic of magnesium is however objective.
  • Magnesium deficiency can be responsible for dangerous uterine contractions. However, this does not mean that increasing the intake of magnesium BEYOND the recommended ration (the normal one, which any pregnant woman should respect) reduces the risk of uterine contractions, premature birth, etc.

To avoid confusing readers' ideas too much, we will simply specify that:

if the intake of magnesium in the diet is already normal, the preventive functions of a possible nutritional increase are reduced almost to zero. On the other hand, if the pregnant woman's nutritional regime is dangerously at risk of magnesium deficiency, increasing her intake is certainly the most suitable choice.

Causes of magnesium deficiency in pregnancy

During pregnancy, the intake of magnesium through food may not fully cover the mother's needs. We emphasize “of the mother”, not of the fetus, as this physiological condition always favors covering the child's needs. He therefore risks being left without only the mother, not the child. However, any deficiency of the mineral, affecting the muscles (striated but also smooth), can jeopardize the outcome of the pregnancy due to possible unwanted uterine contractions.

The possible reasons for magnesium deficiency, often co-occurring, are:

  • Increased requirement due to pregnancy
  • Insufficient dietary intake (also due to nausea)
  • Vomiting, due to nausea, which causes the expulsion of magnesium from the body
  • Excessive sweating.

Effects of increasing magnesium, if deficient, in pregnancy

Let us now summarize the effects of increasing magnesium during pregnancy (especially when the diet is potentially deficient in the mineral):

Conclusions

What is the point of supplementing a balanced diet with magnesium?

To nothing. According to an April 3, 2014 study called “Magnesium supplementation in pregnancy” that examined the “Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register” (March 31, 2013), there is not significant enough evidence demonstrating the benefits of dietary supplementation with magnesium in pregnancy.

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