Calcium and Magnesium
Minerals rarely work in the body in isolation. They are all in a convoluted relationship with one another, where if one mineral is low in the body it can cause another to become too high, or vice versa. To be healthy (keep the body in a state of homeostasis) we need to have these minerals in a certain ratio to one another. Some examples of important mineral ratios include sodium:potassium, zinc:copper and calcium:magnesium. If a person had good levels of zinc, but even higher levels of copper, that would typically present with a zinc deficiency. One of the most well known minerals is sodium (salt), which is famous for elevating blood pressure. There are some people that are very sensitive to a disruption in their sodium:potassium ratio, and having the slightest amount of sodium can send their blood pressure through the roof.
Calcium and magnesium ratio is most commonly recommended at a 2:1, however there is some evidence that suggests that supplementing with doses of 1500mg calcium per day does not disrupt magnesium concentrations. However it is always important to take into consideration individual requirements, as there are many factors that affect the utilization and absorption of minerals such as digestive health, diet, stress and genetic makeup. The type of mineral is important as well. A well known form of calcium supplement, in the form of calcium carbonate is advertised as being the highest dose of calcium available. This does not take into consideration our ability to absorb it or utilise it properly in the body. Magnesium oxide is another commonly sold form, usually because it is the cheapest however this can cause digestive irritation (not something most people would want). It is better to seek advice on the type of mineral that is best for you.
Calcium and Magnesium are important minerals for the body, and we have an increased need for these during pregnancy (particularly from the second trimester on). Most pregnancy multivitamins don’t contain adequate levels of these minerals which are needed in fairly high doses (the multi would need to be the size of a golf ball) so additional supplementation may be necessary.
Calcium is an extremely important nutrient leading up to and during pregnancy. It is necessary for the development of bones and teeth in the foetus. Approximately 30 to 40 g of calcium are transferred to the foetus throughout the pregnancy, the majority in the third trimester. It is important for the mother to have good stores of calcium before becoming pregnant so that the health of her own teeth, bones, nervous system and muscular function is not at risk. Adequate maternal calcium levels can also help to maintain normal blood pressure during pregnancy.
Along with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium is essential for the development of healthy bones, teeth and nervous system, and for maintaining the health of these tissues in the mother.
Adequate magnesium will help prevent muscle cramps and keep blood pressure normal. It also plays an important role in regulating normal blood sugar and insulin levels and nourishing the nervous system.
If you are pregnant or are looking at becoming pregnant, give us a call or send me an email and we can book you in for a consultation to discuss your nutritional needs.
The effects of Calcium supplementation during pregnancy
Pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertensive disorders are significant causes of maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality worldwide. Many studies demonstrate a link between calcium intake and these hypertensive conditions during pregnancy. This review of 15 randomised controlled trials investigated the influence of calcium supplementation during pregnancy and the incidence, risk and severity of these hypertensive disorders and neonatal outcomes.
- Calcium supplementation during pregnancy reduced risk of pre-eclampsia by 52%.
- Calcium supplementation during pregnancy reduced the risk of severe pre-eclampsia by 25%.
- No effect on incidence of eclampsia.
- Significant reduction of risk of maternal mortality/severe morbidity.
- Calcium supplementation during pregnancy significantly reduced risk of pre-term birth.
- Additional weight gain of 85 g in the calcium group compared with control.No effect on perinatal mortality.
- Statistically non-significant increased risk of urolithiasis (kidney stones) in the calcium group compared with control.
The authors concluded “calcium supplementation during pregnancy is associated with a reduction in risk of gestational hypertensive disorders and pre-term birth and an increase in birthweight. There is no increased risk of kidney stones.”
Imdad A, Bhutta ZA. Effects of calcium supplementation during pregnancy on maternal, fetal and birth outcomes. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012; 26(S1): 138-52.