Magnesium is often overlooked as a fertility mineral but it may be one of the more important elements to balance in your body pre-conceptually to boost fertility, especially given the widespread deficiency of magnesium in women. Magnesium can confer much needed protection on pregnancy and babies too; magnesium deficiency has been strongly associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), fetal growth retardation, pre-eclampsia and premature birth.
In his recommendations for nutritional supplements prior to IVF, infertility pioneer Dr. Sher recommends 400mg of magnesium per day for women who are trying to conceive which is significantly more than the amount contained in prenatal vitamins. Four hundred milligrams per day is also the amount of magnesium in the popular infertility formula 'Fertility Blend' which was tested at Stanford; over a three month period this formula produced an impressive 32% pregnancy rate in previously infertile women.
A small English trial (1) studied six women with unexplained infertility - or early miscarriage - who had deficient magnesium levels (red blood cell magnesium-RBC-Mg) and who remained deficient even after four months of magnesium treatment (600 mg/day). These women were compared with six other similar women who had managed to restore normal magnesium levels. Both groups were evaluated for red blood cell activity levels of an important, key antioxidant - red cell glutathione peroxidase - (RBC-GSH-Px).
The women who had failed to restore their magnesium levels were found to have significantly lower activity levels of this potent antioxidant and were prescribed two months of supplementation with selenium 200 mg daily and further magnesium. All six women restored their RBC magnesium levels with great results;
"All 12 previously infertile women have produced normal healthy babies all conceiving within eight months of normalizing their RBC-Mg levels."
Selenium is another nutrient that is recommended by Dr. Sher prenatally. Restoring good RBC (red blood cell) magnesium levels could conceivably shorten your journey to pregnancy and a healthy full-term baby. Are you getting enough magnesium? Probably not. Chronic magnesium deficiency is regarded as a common condition in part because approximately 20% of the population- especially women - consume less than two-thirds of the recommended daily allowance of this mineral(2).
Interestingly it is not just the standard US diet that is at fault; studies show that the French also are magnesium deficient despite their highly regarded dietary habits; 23% of French women have inadequate magnesium intakes too.
Most adults in the US do not meet the RDA which is not surprising when you look at the best food sources for magnesium; magnesium is predominantly found in dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, whole grains and nuts.
A large population study discovered that the average magnesium intake in US women is 230 mg a day which is about a third less than the current RDA of 320 mg and higher if pregnant at 360 mg a day. Adding insult to injury is the fact that magnesium is washed out of the body more quickly by pregnancy and also by certain beverages and medications.
If you choose to supplement magnesium in your diet magnesium citrate is one of the best absorbed and least expensive forms especially if it is presented in a capsule. Magnesium is absorbed from the small intestine so if you have a condition such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease you may be more prone to depletion.
Prenatal vitamins may contain a little or no magnesium, any magnesium which *is* present is often a very poorly absorbed form of the mineral called magnesium oxide. This is a cheap form of magnesium which takes up less space in a tablet / capsule. Magnesium citrate is a much more bioavailable form of the mineral and should build up your levels more quickly but it takes up far more space. Check how much magnesium is in your prenatal vitamin - and in what form - and make sure that you at least get the minimum RDA daily for peak fertility.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT intended to diagnose, offer medical or nutritional treatment or replace medical or nutritional advice for which you should consult a suitably qualified physician or dietitian.
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1. Magnes Res. 1994 Mar;7(1):49-57. Red cell magnesium and glutathione peroxidase in infertile women--effects of oral supplementation with magnesium and selenium. Howard JM, Davies S, Hunnisett A.
2. J am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6):694S-700S. New data on the importance of gestational Mg deficiency. Durlach J.