Ensure you’re getting enough magnesium during pregnancy


By Monya De, MD MPH

When I was a medical student, “magging” was a popular activity in the obstetrics ward. “Magging” referred to injecting magnesium sulfate into the IVs of laboring women. Magnesium slows down contractions and reduces blood pressure in women suffering from pre-eclampsia, the old “toxemia of pregnancy,” also referred to as “pregnancy-induced hypertension.”  

Magnesium was certainly effective in the hospital. But did you know that magnesium can be helpful in pregnancy in many ways?

A few examples include:

  • Improving learning and memory. Researchers gave magnesium to rats who had been exposed to an inflammatory substance; offspring of the magnesium group had fewer problems with learning and memory.
  • Protecting the brains of preterm babies from strokes and other adverse events. Severely preterm babies, though, still suffer from intellectual deficits and other problems, despite the magnesium.
  • Successful pregnancy with Gitelman’s syndrome. In Gitelman’s syndrome, the kidney “dumps” magnesium, which leads to miscarriage unless the mother takes large quantities of magnesium.

Unfortunately, magnesium was not significantly helpful for leg cramps during pregnancy or decreasing fetal heart rate to prevent eclampsia (seizures) risk.

Note that several of these studies used IV magnesium, so we can’t say exactly how much magnesium is effective for these outcomes in the oral form. Be safe and ask your doctor how much magnesium you can take while pregnant, and always know what is in your supplements! You can also test your magnesium levels and proactively identify deficiencies.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

Monya De, MD, MPH is a specialist in internal medicine and previously was a medical reporter for ABC News. She graduated with her MPH degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and her MD degree from the University of California, Irvine; she received her undergraduate degree with honors in human biology from Stanford University. Dr. De is also a member of the Proactive Health Labs Medical Advisory Board, which monitors all programs, products and services.