Friday, April 23, 2010

More Magnesium Mumblings

Some stuff that has been rolling around in my brain thanks to my recent magnesium obsession...

Prenatal Vitamins and Leg Cramps

So... this morning, out of curiosity, I looked at the bottle of prenatal vitamins I took on occasion while pregnant. Lots of folic acid and calcium, for sure. Magnesium... nope. What the?!

Then I remembered something about my sister.  A year or two ago, she told me that she always got bad leg cramps with her pregnancies (I did too). Then she switched to the prenatal vitamins from NuSkin where her husband works, and her leg cramps disappeared. She thought maybe the NuSkin vitamins just absorbed into her body better, and she may be right. After I saw that my bottle of vitamins didn't contain magnesium this morning, I got wondering about NuSkin's prenatals.  So I googled it. And... Yepperdoodle. 39% of the DV of magnesium.  More magnesium, fewer leg cramps.  Just like you'd expect.

Hard Water for Contractions?

My sister also used to get a lot of contractions in the last trimester of her pregnancies (I do too), but she noticed (or her doctor suggested) that if she drank a bunch of water, they would go away. It may have been partly dehydration, but I can't help wondering whether drinking a large amount of the hard, mineral-rich Utah mountain water gave her magnesium stores a boost and helped relax her uterus?  Maybe. Who knows for sure, but I thought it was an interesting connection. 

Hard Water for Cramps and Fetal Hiccups?

Not long before I got married, I was visiting my future-in-laws with my future husband.  While there, my period arrived, and I was hit with some horrendous menstrual cramps.  I literally passed-out in their basement bathroom from the pain, and then spent the next several hours moaning, embarassingly in the arms of my fiance while his mother and sister offered their sweet sympathy.  I remember my mother-in-law saying that she always had excruciating cramps until after her first pregnancy.  So I've been wondering over the past week whether low magnesium was to blame for both of us.

Then a friend recently mentioned that her doula trainer, a midwife, had taught her having that a fetus who hiccups a lot can be a sign of magnesium deficiency.  I told my husband about that, and he remembered his mother talking about how her first baby hiccuped all the time while in utero.  Then the cogs and wheels started going in my brain.

Something changed between her first pregnancy and the rest. She only remembers the first baby hiccuping, and she no longer had bad cramps afterward.  Interestingly enough, she had been living in California for a while before getting married and pregnant.  At some point after her baby was born, the family moved to Utah.  That baby was the only one born in California.

So I found a map showing the relative hardness of the drinking water in the U.S.  on a water science website. I'll throw in a screen shot of it here:  

They were measuring calcium in the water, but I'd venture a guess that water high in calcium would also be high in magnesium.  So if you look at the map, most of California has relatively soft water while Utah's water is completely hard.  I can't guarantee that water hardness was what changed to get rid of my mother-in-law's cramps and baby hiccups, but it's an interesting possibility.

*Edited to add*:  My mother-in-law also grew up in New Zealand which has primarily soft water.  She moved to Porterville, California (a soft water area) as an adult just a few years before marrying.  She was probably already low on magnesium when she arrived in the U.S.  (Fortunately, New Zealand is also surrounded by ocean water, so God provided a simple way for those soft water islanders to get their mg.)

Fluoride + Soft water + Lousy diet = Scoliosis?

The other day I had an epiphany... maybe magnesium will help my scoliosis pain?  So that led me on a google search that turned up some really promising stuff.  There definitely seems to be some connection between scoliosis and low magnesium.  Also, most women who have osteoporosis also have scoliosis and seem to exhibit a cluster of similar symptoms related with magnesium deficiency.  I was thrilled to make this discovery. So I am full of hope that magnesium will tremendously reduce or eliminate my back pain and save me from a future of other possible health problems.  Yay.

But that also led me on a search for other answers.  I was diagnosed with scoliosis around age 14.  At the time, I was living in Massachusetts, in area with fluoridated water.  So yesterday I turned to Google to see if it might be related.  And it turns out that when fluoride meets magnesium in the bloodstream, they bond into magnesium fluoride.  Magnesium fluoride is insoluble, so it "cannot be assimilated by the pituitary, with the consequent failure of the pituitary to function properly that leads to the symptoms of magnesium deficiency" (source). Yikes.

I can also tell you that I had a fairly lousy diet as a teenager.  Most days I skipped multiple meals out of sheer busy-ness or laziness.  Many days all I had for lunch was french fries and a carbonated beverage.  (Oh the things I wish I could go do-over!)  Dinner was the only somewhat nutritious meal I had every day, but we still ate a lot of refined carbs. So... what little magnesium I may have been getting in my diet was probably getting trapped by the fluoride in our water.  Dang.

It gets worse.

If you look on the map, you'll see that MA is an area with very soft water relative to hard water areas. That's three strikes against me: fluoride, poor diet, and soft water.  Ouch.

But I also carried all my heavy text books around in my monstrous backpack, always on my right shoulder... every school day.  I never used my locker in middle school or high school. Strike four!

It's really no surprise that I was diagnosed with scoliosis two years after I moved to MA.  And it's really no surprise that two years later I started having absolutely horrendous menstrual cramps.  Can we say magnesium deficiency?! 

All of this makes me feel like a detective.  It's kind of fun finding possible answers to all these questions after all these years.


The more I learn, the more amazed I am how much impact little things can have.  It's makes me both afraid and hopeful.  Afraid of what little things are impacting my own children right now that will come back to bite them down the road.  But hopeful because I can see that there is almost always a simple solution to our health problems if we can just find all the puzzle pieces and fit them together. 

How's the water where you live? Hard or soft? Is it fluoridated? Is there magnesium in your prenatal vitamins?  I'm totally curious.


Missy said...

this is all really interesting to me. My prenatals don't have any magnesium in them and I have been meaning to get a higher quality prenatal anyways, so I will definintely be taking a better look at the ingredients.
Tempe water is chock full of minerals, enough to clog up your faucets if you don't clean them out regularly. Annoying, but I guess it might be a good thing.

Fig said...

My prenatals don't have magnesium. I live in Oklahoma, where the water is soft and fluoridated. I never had leg cramps, but Viv has multiple hiccups episodes a day, both in utero and out. Hmmm.

HOWEVER, in defense of fluoride ... I grew up on this Oklahoma water and have never had a tooth cavity. Same goes for my four siblings who were born here. My baby brother, who was born in Utah, has terrible teeth.

Give a little, get a little, I guess. :-)

kamille said...

everything is linked...i am realizing that more every day, as i am on my own quest with max's health problems.

my prenatals have 44% magnesium, but these are a different brand than i used in both pregnancies. i don't have those other bottles and don't remember the brands (some generic one i'm sure) but it'd be interesting to see if they contain magnesium. i never got leg cramps, but my babies did hiccup a lot.

interesting thoughts though.

Cherylyn said...

This is extremely interesting! I love it when I have errant thoughts that lead to interesting connections and possible solutions, like your musings about magnesium. I'm in Utah where we have hard water and our city does not fluoridate the water. I've also made the conscious decision not to give my children fluoride supplements, and after reading your thoughts I'm more grateful that I made that choice.

My prenatal vitamins are prescription and I don't know if they have magnesium. My last pregnancy was horrible on my teeth, and I know I need a good source of calcium and magnesium. I had leg cramps during my last pregnancy as well. The difference between my first four pregnancies and the fifth was that my youngest two are only 18 months apart and I was trying to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, quite unsuccessfully. I couldn't get the right nutrition to support 3 bodies. I wouldn't be surprised if I have at least a little bit of a calcium and magnesium deficiency, and I'm trying to get myself into a healthier state before I get pregnant again.

I'm working with a company called doTERRA now that has excellent essential oils, but I'm also REALLY excited about their nutritional products. There's on in particular that's a really good multivitamin with both calcium and magnesium. I'm anxious to see how it will help me.

missy. said...

So... question. My pediatrician just prescribed flouride for my 3-year-old and 6-month-old. We're in Utah, and the water in our area is not flouridated. What do you know about this? What would you do if you were me? :)

Buscando la Luz said...

I used to live in UT, missy, and our pediatrician prescribed fluoride for my kids too. I gave it to them once in a blue moon. But I didn't really worry about it.

I also spent most of my childhood in UT. And I'll confess to you that I almost never (literally) brushed my teeth. And I've never had a cavity in my life.

I have a "niece" who adores brushing her teeth, multiple times a day, and her teeth are riddled with painful cavities.

I think there's so much more to preventing cavities than fluoride. And I think a lot of it has to do with prenatal nutrition and vitamin D levels... but that's a topic for another post! :-)

I say follow your gut and do what you think feels right for you!

Carol said...

I find this fascinating. Whether my prenatals had Magnesium in them or not doesn't really matter because I took only a quarter of a bottle my whole pregnancy. But My daughter hiccuped not a lot but not a little either. Oh I live in the great state of Colorado.

The Jake Clines said...

And just so you are aware, the Nuskin prenatals you are supposed to take 2 times a day. I used to take them but they made me too sick

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