Magnesium as a Supplement
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Magnesium has over 400 functions in the human body. It's also one of the most commonly deficient minerals in the UK. Supplementing can have great benefits.
Because magnesium has so many functions, the baby will start to use up stores very early on in pregnancy. This can put an extra drain on the mother's magnesium stores and exacerbate a deficiency.
Low magnesium intake is associated with lower birth weights. Higher magnesium intakes are associated with longer gestation times and bigger head circumferences.
Other functions magnesium is essential for include:
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- Insulin sensitivity
- Relaxing the nervous system
- A healthy stress response
All these functions are important for prenatal health for you and can contribute to a smoother pregnancy as well and a healthier baby.
For example a healthy stress response means lower cortisol levels. High cortisol, your stress hormone, during the third trimester of a pregnancy is not a good thing. It is actually correlated with impaired cognitive functions in the baby as well as worse body composition (more weight gain) for you.
Low magnesium is also correlated with pre-eclampsia. This is a quite dangerous pregnancy condition in which the mother will experience weight gain and high blood pressure.
What makes a good product?
The most important issue with magnesium is simply to get a product that is biologically available and well absorbed. Luckily these are readily available and relatively inexpensive.
One of the best forms is magnesium glycinate in a capsule. Magnesium citrate is also well absorbed as is ionic magnesium from trace minerals research.
The ionic magnesium is in liquid form, thus is suitable for those who do not like tablets or who are vegetarian and want to avoid the gelatine in capsules.
You can also get topical magnesium. This gets rubbed on the skin behind the knees and absorbed, surprisingly efficiently, through the skin. Again it is great for those who do not want to take capsules, or mixing your sources so you take less capsules.
Avoid cheap magnesium salts as they are not effectively absorbed and can cause digestive discomfort. Magnesium oxide is a common but poorly absorbed type of magnesium.