Magnesium is one of those minerals that can seemingly do no harm. Beloved by natural living enthusiasts everywhere, the lists of conditions it’s been credited with curing go on and on… Leg cramps, heart palpitations, insomnia, constipation, migraines, anxiety, even incontinence. And now we can add morning sickness to that list.
I’ve read several explanations regarding the mechanism by which magnesium lessens the symptoms of morning sickness, but frankly, none of them really stand up to close scrutiny. The most popular theory I’ve run across online credits magnesium’s ability to lower cortisol levels. While it’s true that magnesium supplementation has been shown to reduce levels of this hormone, cortisol production actually peaks later in pregnancy. That means that if cortisol was to blame for morning sickness, we’d be feeling nauseated later in pregnancy, not in the first trimester.
Regardless of how it works, I have found that using a magnesium supplement can reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. For me, it seemed to take away the feeling that my digestive tract was super-irritated which was one of the worst parts of morning sickness for me. It can also lessen nausea and aversions to foods and smells.
There are several ways to increase your intake of magnesium. The best is probably to up your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as nuts and seeds, spinach, and black beans. The magnesium found in foods is most readily absorbed by your body, so if you can tolerate eating foods that are high in magnesium, consider adding them to your daily diet. It’s likely however, that you may require additional supplementation if your morning sickness symptoms are severe.
While there are many forms of magnesium supplements available, I prefer powdered magnesium citrate, taken before bedtime. The most popular and widely available brand of magnesium citrate is probably Natural Calm, but independent testing of this supplement has shown it may contain unsafe levels of lead. Not the best thing to be ingesting while pregnant (or at any time for that matter). It’s entirely possible that the lead issue had been resolved, but just to be safe, I prefer Magnesium Serene (manufactured by Source Naturals and available in several flavors — I’m partial to the tangerine).
Start by taking a half teaspoon in warm water before bedtime and gradually increase your dose until you start to experience loose stools. Then back down a bit until you’re having normal bowel movements and stay at that dose. Take it at least two hours away from any calcium supplements you may be taking, or calcium rich foods (ie don’t take it with a glass of milk). And although magnesium is usually safe to take at normal dosages during pregnancy, be sure to check with your midwife or OB before adding this (or any) supplement to your daily regimen.
The last option is topical magnesium oil or gel. Topical magnesium is gaining in popularity, but may people find that it’s irritating to their skin. It has been purported that topical magnesium is better absorbed by the body and some people swear by it, but I have personally never had great results with it for morning sickness. I do recommend it for leg cramps that may occur later in pregnancy. Of the two options available, I prefer the gel since it’s easier to measure and control.
Have you used magnesium to combat morning sickness symptoms? What form have you found to work best for you? Let me know in the comments below!