Magnesium during Pregnancy: How Much to Take, Food Sources & More

Magnesium Intake in Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

During pregnancy, it is of utmost importance to include essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals in your diet to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy. One such vital mineral to take during your pregnancy is magnesium. Magnesium helps in abating leg cramps, to preventing premature uterus contractions. If your prenatal diet is not providing you with the minimum required dosage of magnesium, you need to increase your intake of this essential nutrient by consulting your doctor. Enough magnesium supplementation during pregnancy in magnesium-deficient women can make their pregnancy a breeze and delivery less painful.

Is It Safe to Take Magnesium When Pregnant?

Magnesium must be implemented in prenatal diets and only supplemented when there is a deficiency in mineral consumption. It is safe to supplement magnesium during pregnancy, provided that expecting mothers do not overdose or self-medicate with only capsules.

Why Is Magnesium Important During Pregnancy?

Magnesium is a highly important mineral vital for pregnancy. There are numerous benefits of magnesium during pregnancy

  • Taking magnesium while pregnant supports muscle relaxation and optimises blood pressure levels, thus making delivery less painful.
  • It prevents the possibility of premature contractions, preterm labour, preeclampsia, and other pregnancy complications.
  • Taking magnesium during pregnancy also enables the growth of strong bones and teeth in your baby, as almost 6 per cent of magnesium is stored in bones.
  • It also regulates the risk of cholesterol and heartbeat.
  • It stabilises the mood and gives you restful sleep.
  • Constipation and digestive issues become a distant memory with enough magnesium in the body.
  • Muscle stiffness and leg cramps are also because of a deficiency of magnesium.
  • Taking magnesium supplements during pregnancy also prevents the increase of diastolic blood pressure in pregnant women during the last weeks of pregnancy.
  • Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that is connected with brain chemistry, and preparations rich in magnesium help manage depression. Even there are several magnesium preparations in homoeopathy that work as a remedy for numerous mental health problems.

How Much Magnesium Is Recommended for Pregnant Women?

The overall daily magnesium dosages for women are as follows. according to the stages of pregnancy:

18 years and below –

  • Pregnant: 400 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding: 360 mg/day

19 years to 30 years –

  • Pregnant: 350 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding: 310 mg/day
  • Non-pregnant: 310 mg/day

31 years and older –

  • Pregnant: 360 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding: 320 mg/day
  • Non-pregnant: 320 mg/day

What is important is not getting the magnesium dosage right on a daily basis but aiming for a weekly average of the recommended amounts over the course of time for best results.

Effects of Magnesium on the Baby

The following are the effects of adequate magnesium supplementation on babies:

Effects of Magnesium on The Baby

Deficiency of Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency results from a lack of a balanced diet. If you are not getting regular dosage numbers through your daily diet, you may need to take magnesium supplements based on doctors’ recommendations. Magnesium deficiency leads to chronic fatigue, muscle cramps, and even premature uterus contractions, thus affecting the delivery of the baby. Foetal development is also affected by magnesium deficiency, and pregnant mothers experience muscle twitching due to a lack of sufficient magnesium in the blood.

Deficiency of Magnesium in Pregnancy

Reasons for Magnesium Deficiency

Though it is not common, magnesium deficiency exists in individuals and women in general. During pregnancy, the need for magnesium increases in deficient women for the optimal growth of the baby and women’s health. Magnesium deficiency is known to cause a number of health problems, like depression, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, headaches, etc. Some common reasons for magnesium deficiency include:

  • Inadequate dietary intake
  • Increased losses through the gastrointestinal or renal systems
  • Inadequate gastrointestinal absorption
  • Increased requirement for magnesium in pregnancy

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Lack of magnesium in the body could lead to:

  • Low appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • Fatigue and weakness

Why Are Pregnant Women More Likely to Have Magnesium Deficiency?

Although taken through several fruits and vegetables, low magnesium intake through diet is common in individuals from low-income regions and not just restricted to it. Women and adolescents are prone to magnesium deficiency. Plus, during pregnancy, the need for magnesium increases to cover the growth of the foetus as your fluctuating hormones can impact the magnesium reserve in your body. Magnesium deficiency during pregnancy is associated with preeclampsia, chronic HTN, premature labour, and placental dysfunction, risking the unborn baby and her mother. As per Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2004, it is recommended that women consume 280 mg of magnesium per day.

How to Include Magnesium in Your Diet?

Magnesium can be included in your diet through a combination of a healthy diet, prenatal vitamins, and supplements. Supplements are ideal when your diet isn’t providing you with sufficient doses of magnesium or you fail to eat enough to reach the recommended numbers. However, before taking over-the-counter magnesium supplements, it is highly suggested that you consult a doctor since overdosing leads to blood toxicity, muscle cramps, and other health problems.

Magnesium Food Sources

You can include magnesium in your diet by incorporating foods such as peanut butter, almonds, leafy green vegetables, and fruits such as bananas, avocados, and dry fruits. Dark chocolate is the queen of magnesium for pregnant women and can be included in their diets! The purer the dark chocolate, the more magnesium content it has. Aim for a daily value of 350 mg of magnesium through your diet by ingesting foods like almonds, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, spinach, and black beans.

Magnesium Food Sources

Find below the nutritional value of various magnesium-rich food sources, per 100 grams:

Food Milligrams (mg) / 100 gm
Gelatin powder 16,250
Hemp seeds 700
Hemp seed powder 700
Wheat bran 611
Cumin seeds 442
Sunflower seeds 413
Sunflower seeds powder 413
Poppy seeds 393
Sesame seeds, black 390
Fennel seeds 385
Niger seeds, gray 379
Piyal seeds 373
Sesame seeds, white 372
Coconut meal, de-oiled 355
Flaxseed 349
Niger seeds, black 346
Coriander seeds 343
Chia seeds 335
Cloves 334
Nigella seeds 333
Cardamom, green 330
Sesame seeds, brown 328
Coffee powder 327
Amaranth (Rajgeera), black 325
Safflower seeds 321
Almond 318
Almond powder 318
Garden cress, seeds 307
Cashew nut 307
Cashew nut, chopped 307
Garden cress, seed powder 307

Magnesium Supplements

There is no need to take magnesium supplements, as it is possible to get all the magnesium you need from a healthy, balanced diet. Also, prenatal vitamins contain some amount of magnesium. However, if you think you aren’t getting enough from your diet, you can consult with your doctor about taking magnesium supplements.

Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements

Taking excessive doses of magnesium supplements can lead to certain side effects. The following are the side effects of consuming too many magnesium supplements:

1. Blood Toxicity

Toxicity in the blood is a result of high magnesium levels in the body. This may be counteracted by using an over-the-counter calcium supplement to lower magnesium levels in the blood.

2. Muscle Cramps

Overdosing on magnesium supplements leads to muscle cramping and twitching in pregnant women.

3. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea and irregular bowel movements are a result of increased magnesium intake in the body.

4.  Other Health Problems

High magnesium levels lead to a lack of the knee-jerk reflex in the body. Overdosing on supplements may even lead to cardiac arrest, irregular heartbeat, and blurry vision.

Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium Salts

Dipping into Epsom salt baths is the height of luxury in terms of supplementing magnesium for pregnant women. Magnesium salt baths relieve muscle aches and rejuvenate women during pregnancies, thus alleviating some of the pain by relaxing the body.

According to a 2004 study conducted by the University of Birmingham, magnesium is better absorbed through the skin without adverse effects by soaking in Epsom salt baths. Ingesting magnesium supplements orally sometimes interferes with the magnesium absorption process for those with Celiac disease and Type 2 diabetes, which is why soaking in Epsom salt baths can prove to be highly useful.

Magnesium Salts Baths

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate in pregnancy is administered to women intravenously to prevent preterm labour and ensure a smooth delivery process. Magnesium levels in the blood lower calcium content in uterine muscle cells and allow the uterus muscles to relax, thus preventing premature contractions early on during the 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Why Take It?

Using magnesium sulfate in pregnancy can help to slow and delay delivery by a few days, which makes a significant difference in the proper development of a foetus, prevents death, and regulates fetal lung functions. Additionally, the risk of cerebral palsy for babies is also lowered by ingesting magnesium sulfate during pregnancy.

Magnesium Sulfate Injections

Precautions to Take

Overdosing on magnesium sulfate leads to:

These side effects can be reversed by using a medication called calcium gluconate.

Side Effects

Some of the side effects of high magnesium supplementation or administration during pregnancy include:

Magnesium Citrate

There are many reasons why magnesium citrate is beneficial during pregnancies, such as:

  • Prevents indigestion and can be taken as a laxative.
  • No serious adverse effects or side effects.
  • Promotes regular and easy bowel movements through water retention in stools.
  • Is administered before colonoscopy procedures for cleansing the colon.
  • Does not interact with most medications (except a few like tetracycline antibiotics and potassium phosphate).
  • Can be highly absorbed by the body.

Although there are no serious, life-threatening side effects, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before deciding on the dosage for magnesium citrate intake.

Magnesium Citrate Intake


1. What is the role of magnesium oxide during pregnancy?

Magnesium oxide promotes optimal magnesium levels in the blood during pregnancy. It may be used as a laxative for preventing indigestion and must be taken two hours after taking other supplements based on the doctor’s recommendations.

2. Can I take magnesium hydroxide?

Magnesium hydroxide is used to relieve heartburn and for breastfeeding purposes during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor before deciding to opt for this medication.

3. What other magnesium supplements do doctors usually recommend during pregnancy?

Magnesium recommendations by doctors usually range from supplementing via chelate and citrate forms since these are highly absorbable and are naturally found in food sources. Doctors sometimes recommend magnesium threonate, magnesium orotate, and magnesium glycinate during pregnancies. The type of supplement recommended to you will be based on blood test analysis results for magnesium levels during your pregnancy.

4. Is magnesium oil safe during pregnancy?

Yes. Magnesium oil is safe during pregnancy and is better absorbed through the skin. Oral magnesium supplements may sometimes cause diarrhoea or interact with other medications. However, with magnesium oil, there are no side effects. Before using magnesium oil during pregnancy, it is advised first to consult your doctor.

5. Do pregnancy vitamins have magnesium?

Prenatal vitamins do not usually contain magnesium. They mostly include folate, iron, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, E, and D, and selenium. Your doctor may prescribe you a separate magnesium supplement or advise you magnesium-rich foods if they notice its deficiency in you. It is of utmost importance not to take magnesium supplements on your own and only take them on the doctor’s advice.

From promoting well-being to instilling calmness and reducing anxiety, it is no wonder that taking magnesium means saying goodbye to tension and cramps. Although magnesium is beneficial during pregnancy, it is advisable to start upping your magnesium intake if you’re already deficient since it comes with a host of health and lifestyle benefits. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before deciding on the brand, type, and dosage of magnesium before, during, and even after your pregnancy.


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Also Read: 

Vitamin C in Pregnancy
Intake of Potassium during Pregnancy
Taking Vitamin E when Pregnant

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