Magnesium is one of many vital nutrients that form an essential part of the overall health of your body.
Magnesium helps maintain blood sugar levels and blood pressure, muscle health, nerve function and bone health.
Read on to find out more about the importance having enough magnesium while breastfeeding.
1. How much magnesium do breastfeeding mothers need?
The recommended intake of magnesium for a breastfeeding mother is 360 mg per day.
Magnesium is obtained by consuming foods high in magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables, or by taking magnesium supplements.
Many breastfeeding women do not get enough magnesium from their diet alone and therefore taking magnesium supplements to compensate can be helpful.
2. What does magnesium do for women’s health?
As well as stabilising blood pressure, regulating blood glucose and supporting the immune system, magnesium plays a positive role in hormonal health.
This is particularly important for new mothers, as hormones play a role in mother-infant bonding, as well as the establishment and maintenance of breast milk supply.
Magnesium is also said to reduce stress levels, anxiety and even postpartum depression.
Some studies suggest that depletion of magnesium stores in pregnancy is linked to postpartum depression. In pregnancy, magnesium deficiency is associated with pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature labor.
3. Should I take magnesium while breastfeeding?
It is safe to take magnesium while breastfeeding. Magnesium supplementation for mothers who are breastfeeding is commonly recommended, to support the general health of both mother and baby.
The recommended supplementation for nursing mothers is 400-600 mg of magnesium daily.
The reason the recommended dosage of magnesium supplement is higher than the recommended daily intake is due to supplements being poorly absorbed, by comparison with magnesium that is consumed as part of the diet.
4. Can magnesium help those with breastfeeding aversion?
Breastfeeding aversion refers to negative feelings directly associated with breastfeeding. These feeling can include irritability, agitation, anger or anxiety.
Some breastfeeding mothers have reported that magnesium supplements can reduce the negative feelings related to breastfeeding aversion. This might be due to the role magnesium plays in the function of the nervous system.
For more information, you can read BellyBelly’s article Breastfeeding Aversion – Could You Be Suffering from D-MER?
5. Which foods are high in magnesium?
The best way to increase magnesium levels is to eat a healthy diet, including foods that are naturally high in magnesium.
- Green leafy vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brown rice
- Dark chocolate.
To improve magnesium absorption, you should treat any existing vitamin D deficiencies and avoid high dose zinc supplements.
If you are taking a calcium supplement, it’s recommended that you take it at least 2 hours before or after your magnesium supplement.
6. How do you know if you are magnesium deficient?
Some common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Restless leg syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Poor concentration or memory
- Cardiac arrythmia
- Pins and needles.
If you think you could have a magnesium deficiency, seek advice from your healthcare provider, who will be able to determine your magnesium levels through a blood test and provide advice about magnesium supplementation.
Magnesium citrate supplementation can sometimes cause side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea, so check with your doctor which particular magnesium supplement is recommended.
7. Can magnesium increase breast milk supply?
Milk production is initiated hormonally, then maintained on the principle of supply and demand.
You can read more about this in BellyBelly’s article How Does Breastfeeding Work? An Explanation.
Eating a healthy, varied diet that is rich in essential vitamins and nutrients will support your general health and recovery post birth, but will not directly increase your milk supply.
For more information, you can read BellyBelly’s article 10 Facts About A Mother’s Diet And Breastfeeding.
In saying that, magnesium also plays a role in muscle relaxation, which could have an overall calming effect.
Oxytocin, one of the important hormones involved in the milk let down reflex, is inhibited by stress and anxiety. Reduced stress and anxiety and increased muscle relaxation might contribute to more efficient releases of oxytocin while you are breastfeeding.
8. Does breast milk contain magnesium?
Concentrations of magnesium in breast milk vary widely and are affected by a number of circumstances, including: maternal metabolic disorders; length of gestation; medications; socio- cultural diversity; and stage of lactation.
Despite this, if a mother’s magnesium intake and levels are sufficient, her breastfed baby will get enough magnesium from breast milk alone. The magnesium in breast milk is easily absorbed.
Studies have also found that a normal breastfed infant’s serum magnesium levels gradually increase with time.
9. Can too much magnesium be harmful?
There are no concerns about getting too much magnesium from food. There can be adverse reactions, however, from excess oral supplementation.
Side affects can include (but are not limited to):
- Abdominal cramps
- Urine retention
Medications can be given to reverse the effects of too much magnesium. Seek advice about this from your healthcare provider.