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The REAL Cause Of Morning Sickness

Affiliate Disclosure | in Motherhood | by | with 304 Comments


“Daddy!!! Diarrhea is coming out of Mommy’s mouth!!!”

Ahhh, morning sickness. The quintessential pregnancy experience in which a woman heaves a whole plate of eggs into her own hair. We’ve come to expect it as a normal part of pregnancy, but is it? Not necessarily, says Kristen of Food RenegadeIn her Beautiful Babies e-course, Kristen challenges common myths about “inevitable” pregnancy woes (morning sickness, stretch marks, swollen ankles, etc.) and teaches mamas how to increase fertility, have a happier pregnancy and birth a gorgeous, healthy baby.

Hands down it is one of the best classes I have ever taken, and today I get to share a little snippet from lesson #5 with you: How to prevent morning sickness!!! This is no gimmick, ya’ll.  Kristen and I went to college together, and if there is one thing I learned about her there it’s that she doesn’t make claims she can’t back up via 10 independent sources and possibly citations from a dead language or two. The research on this is solid, so let’s jump right in!

Flip On The News . . .

morning sickness cureAny night of the week and you will find a smattering of pregnancy-related stories: Jedi forcefields that prevent moms immune system from attacking baby as an invader,  Snooki says breastfeeding is “like you’re a cow,” and a pregnant woman is criticized for jumping into icy waters to save a toddlers life.

Sandwiched between all that mess there are usually a few common theories about morning sickness floated here and there. Though they are commonly accepted as true, these theories are either incomplete or flat out wrong. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • Theory #1: Morning sickness protects baby from toxins – According to this perspective, “Doctors have long known that morning sickness — the nausea and vomiting usually experienced in early pregnancy — is actually a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, despite the discomfort it brings” (source). Nausea is an inner wisdom which prevents mama from eating foods that would be toxic to baby.

What’s wrong with this theory? Well, a couple of things: First, many of the foods women find themselves unable to eat are the very ones recommended by Dr. Weston A. Price as part of a nutrient-dense diet (pastured eggs, oily fish, fresh beef and lamb). These foods are far from toxic!  Second, plenty of women carry healthy babies to term without this so-called “protective” mechanism, and while consuming copious amounts of the foods typically avoided during morning sickness.

  • Theory #2: The body is adjusting to a flood of extra hormones – This is partly true, but the presence (or lack) of a particular nutrient may determine how intensely this change affects us (more on that below!)
  • Theory #3: It’s caused by low blood sugar  – This is also partly true (and eating constantly throughout the day helps!), but it’s a symptom, not the cause
  • Theory #4: You’re deficient in vitamin B6 & B12 – Many mamas find significant relief when they intentionally build up B-Vitamin stores, and that makes sense, because B6 and B12 aid in the absorption of the mineral which truly helps to prevent morning sickness – magnesium!

Wait, Another Post About Magnesium?!?!?

morning sickness cure

Poço Azul – Magnesium is what makes the water so blue!

I know, ever since Cheeseslave wrote a blog post about magnesium deficiency it seems like the world’s gone mad with it! Did your dog’s tail turn blue? Magnesium deficiency! The bus was late? Magnesium deficiency!  I was pretty surprised to learn that even people who eat a nutrient-dense diet are at risk of magnesium deficiency, but her research is spot on.

“A hundred years ago, it was easy to get enough magnesium just by eating a variety of foods and drinking water. However, our modern soil is very depleted . . . [And] so is the water. ‘ Our human ancestors evolved in a world in which healthy drinking water came directly from streams, rivers, and lakes, rich in mineral content. The human body became reliant on obtaining a considerable proportion of its daily mineral needs from natural water sources.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. We obtain drinking water from a spigot or a plastic bottle. Pesticides and other chemicals seeping into the water supply have made everyone suspicious of water quality. As a result, municipal water-purification facilities have intensified their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. Unfortunately, these modern water-treatment methods also deplete drinking water of desirable minerals like calcium and magnesium. Exacerbating this problem is that many Americans, distrustful of the purity and safety of municipally treated water, have added home water filters and purifiers that efficiently extract any remaining minerals from the water, thus converting “hard” into “soft” water. In fact, the manufacturers of these devices boast of their power to yield water free of “contaminants” — including minerals like magnesium. Thus, the magnesium content of the water that passes through most commercial filters is zero. (Source)‘”

So what does this have to do with morning sickness? I’m glad you asked!

You’ve Probably Heard By Now . . .

morning sickness cureThat cortisol (the stress hormone) can cause weight gain, but did you know that’s because one of it’s main functions is to increase blood sugar? Yep, excess cortisol in your system takes your blood sugar through huge spikes and crashes, resulting in fatigue and nausea (aka morning sickness).

Normally, magnesium balances cortisol levels by cleaning the excess from our blood. BUT – Pregnancy hormones inhibit our ability to absorb magnesium! This can lead to a vicious cycle in which excess stress hormones cause nausea, which causes stress, which we can’t fully remedy because the very thing we need we can’t fully absorb, and then you get this → Ugh!

That’s Why The Secret To Morning Sickness . . .

41W1M2PFo-LIs to build up your magnesium stores before getting pregnant! You can can do this by consuming magnesium rich foods such as bone broth, seaweed, leafy green vegetables, properly soaked seeds and nuts, unrefined sea salt.

Because Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and a little calcium are essential for magnesium absorption you’re going to want to eat foods that contain those nutrients, too. (Note: According to Kristen, this is one of those instances in which Vitamin D supplements cannot replace sunshine. Studies comparing fermented cod liver oil vs. sunlight show that magnesium absorption goes WAY up when you get real sunlight! More info on how to get the benefits of sunlight without burning here.)

Of course, modern farming practices and water filtration systems have drastically reduced the magnesium content of the foods listed above, so you may want to add in a supplement as well. I personally use magnesium oil because it is much more easily absorbed  by the body than pills. Be careful to by from someone you trust, though, because some magnesium oils contain contaminants like mercury.

(Wondering where I get mine? This is the brand I use.)

My Story

morning sickness cureMy pregnancy with Katie was gloriously healthy overall, but I did have some morning sickness and awful problems with restless leg syndrome. Supplementing with magnesium helped control the RLS, but it wasn’t until after Katie’s winter solstice waterbirth that things finally resolved.

Looking back, it makes sense that pregnancy hormones were preventing me from fully correcting a magnesium deficiency. Of course, I had lots of time to work on it by the time I got pregnant with Micah, and the difference was amazing. No morning sickness at all and virtually no restless leg! I have nerve damage in one of my legs from an old ballet injury so it’s not completely avoidable when there’s lots of pressure on my hips, but it was much, MUCH better! Do you know someone that needs to read this series? Why not share it with them???

NEXT: 7 Real Food Remedies For Morning Sickness

Photo credit: Guillherme Jofili

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304 Responses to The REAL Cause Of Morning Sickness

  1. Sara G says:

    Hi Heather,
    How did you know how much of the magnesium oil to spray on youself daily? I have that spray and use it daily however in prepatation for baby # 2 I am unsure how much I should be spraying to get the needed amount. Any pointers?

  2. Angela M. says:

    The magnesium oil you use and recommend, is it consumed or just absorbed through the skin? I was reading it on amazon and it seems to only be put on not swallowed. Dumb question I know but just wanted to be sure. I’m wanting to get pregnant within a few months and wanted to get a head start on my magnesium intake like you say, to prevent morning sickness. Any other suggestions would be appreciated as well.

  3. AnRene` says:

    this is super interesting. I had morning sickness the typical times…right when I woke up or hadn’t eaten in a while. I craved orange juice all the time with calcium (magnesium too maybe to help it absorb…is that even possible?) I thought it had two things added to the juice…but I would puke after drinking it. Always. I didn’t think my body could handle the acid, but now I’m thinking after reading this that I couldn’t absorb it while pregnant and it was winter, so there was minimal sun vitamin D to help. My first pregnancy was also very stressful, my freshman year of college, newly married… I think there is a lot of truth to the stress hormones not being regulated as well. I can’t remember ever being more stressed than those first few months of school and pregnancy.

  4. anacarina munoz says:

    Well this is very interesting and helpful, the only bad thing is i should have read this 4 months ago lol. I am now pregnant with my first child and am desperate to find a solution to my morning sickness problem. Its not so bad, but I hate feeling nauseated and I hate vomiting. This will be helpful on my second baby in another 6 years hopefully.

  5. Lindsay says:

    I use Life-Flo Magnesium oil. I found one source that said it is free of mercury. Wondering if you have heard that this is a good brand. I can always call the company as well but thought in all your research you might have already figured out is this a good go to brand. Thanks!

  6. Morning Sickness » In Her Shoes and Through Her Lens says:

    […] so I knew that wasn’t it. A quick search in my favorite crunchy granola mom blogs and I saw m/s can be caused by a magnesium deficiency. That totally rang a bell and I quickly purchased a top notch bottle of magnesium oil. I applied […]

  7. Ashley says:

    Okay, I did some research after reading a few articles like this one. All the things I have craved this pregnancy are high in magnesium. I had morning sickness up until week 20. Once I could start getting these foods in me it went away. Who would have known? I wish I had when I started this pregnancy! I’m happy to know that my body can still tell me what it properly needs. Haha. Thank you for the information!

  8. ellen says:

    I know in this article you said to use the magnesium spray before you are pregnant, but is it safe to use while pregnant? I’m having terrible morning sickness right now and would try anything to make it better!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Ellen, I am not a doctor and cannot recommend supplements for anyone, but I will say that after researching magnesium I personally felt completely comfortable using it while pregnant. I have used it with three pregnancies :)

  9. Can You Prevent Morning Sickness? says:

    […] seems to be a strong argument for magnesium deficiency as the culprit that causes morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum. It’s likely that with three pregnancies in a little over 4 years, […]

  10. Bri says:

    So can I take mag while pregnant or will it not get absorbed?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Bri, I personally chose to take magnesium while pregnant. While I cannot say what anyone else should do, I felt it was beneficial because even though my absorption would be lower than usual I would still get some. Hope that helps!

  11. Shana says:

    How do you recommend taking the Mag oil? Internal? Is it specified on the label? I have saved an article on making the spray, wasn’t sure if that would be sufficient for someone TTC. Thanks much. Love your blog!

    • Heather says:

      Yes, there are directions on the label. It is to be used externally. Making your own is a great idea, but it is not as concentrated as store bought so you may find that you need to use more to get the same effect.

      • Erica says:

        I had no idea it isn’t as concentrated… why not (I mean that in an inquisitive way, not a challenging way ;))?? How can we figure out just how concentrated it is to get the proper dosing?? I don’t want to mess with anything I am not sure of while pregnant.

  12. Gina says:

    Oh my gosh, Mommypotamus, you changed my life. I’m out of bed 4 hours earlier than everyday this week because I am so much more alive! I forced myself to eat protein and all that jazz and it is working miracles already. I ordered the magnesium and having it rushed. Oh thank GOD there is actual help out there….

    thank you!

  13. Lindsay says:

    So once you are pregnant is it useless to keep using the oil? You said magnesium can’t be absorbed once you are pregnant but does any little amount get absorbed to make it beneficial to keep using it?

    • Heather says:

      It is my understanding that absorption is reduced, but still possible. I supplemented with magnesium through all three of my pregnancies and felt it was beneficial.

  14. Induldge In These Delicious New Bath Soaks from EveryOne says:

    […] my own need for magnesium till I became pregnant with my third and happened to stumble upon an article about morning sickness and how it can be caused by a magnesium deficiency! I immediately started taking epsom salt baths […]

  15. Morning Sickness | makingendsmeetblog says:

    […] away while I’m outside in the sun!) 4. Get plenty of Magnesium (found a great post on that here) The following are some of the suggestions from my […]

  16. Cure Morning Sickness With Magnesium! - says:

    […] I read something that has changed my view of what causes morning sickness forever.  Check out this post by Mommypotamus!  Apparently the cause of morning is a lack of magnesium.  Now, I have used magnesium to […]

  17. Katrina says:

    That’s a nice idea for when you are trying to conceive but what about those of us who just happened to get pregnant? I’m so nauseous i want to die can’t eat or sleep feel as if I’m spinning. I started drinking alkaline water, it has magnesium in it too. But are you saying this won’t help because I’m already pregnant? Not everyone PLANS you know!

    • Erica says:

      Wow, sorry you feel so awful… I have been through it too for many pregnancies the entire 9 months… & my babies were planned (one wasn’t exactly planned, but being adults we sure knew what could happen so I can’t say baby was unplanned either; I’ve also battled infertility for 19 years so it was still a shock even being fully aware of what COULD happen when we were told it simply would NOT happen on our own). I believe for some women that our bodies react (or maybe overreact?!) to certain hormonal changes much more violently & drastically than others do.

      I do believe nutrition can & does affect it, but I also know I am far more healthy now than w/my 1st pregnancy 14 years ago & the hyperemesis is just as awful, & even worse in some regards. This time I also have experienced dizziness/spinning, which is new for me, yet I have eaten the best in my life prior to this pregnancy. My last pregnancy I had horrendous reflux in the middle of the night I would wake up gasping for breath because of it, so I had to sleep sitting up, & even then it was still terrifying.

      I was using magnesium prior to my current pregnancy, though I haven’t had enough time to really build up reserves. I did use some homeopathic remedy to help heal my adrenals & I have NEVER had so much energy during pregnancy as I have now. It used to be painful to get out of bed, but now I bounce out of bed like my usual self (puke bucket in tow.. which I sleep next to ;)).

      Recently I forgot to use magnesium oil for a few weeks & my hyperemesis seemed to go from a 10 (being the worst) to an 8. While that is far from great, I will take what I can get. The past couple of days I have been sicker than ever, & you know what?! I have been using the magnesium oil again, which I have now stopped again. Perhaps it is coincidence but I am going to take a break & see if it settles back down a tad again before I use it again.

      I know for some women the magnesium & mag oil work wonders, but for some of us, it doesn’t & may even have the reverse affect?! I don’t know for sure, but I am not about to endure 9 months of non-stop hyperemesis if I don’t have to.

      You won’t absorb as much magnesium while pregnant, but you will still absorb some. I sure hope you have found some relief!! Hang in there, it will get better… I think my dizziness eased up around week 12 when I could drink more water & raspberry leaf tea (not the fake fruity flavored stuff most places sell… that stuff totally makes me even more nauseous). Whether a baby is planned or not, hyperemesis is NEVER easy!

  18. Marisa says:

    First off, I love your blog and all your info! I recommend to anyone who will listen :) I have a question, though: I knew about this post well before getting pregnant, and of the benefits of having enough magnesium for health in general. I had been faithfully supplementing internally with liquid ionic magnesium daily, as well as using the Ancient Minerals magnesium spray on my skin daily for at least two years before getting pregnant. I assumed that because of that, I’d have a fairly easy time with morning sickness. Well, fast forward to a couple months ago, as I’m now pregnant with our first child: I had a horrendous time with nausea! I tried everything I knew: eating small amounts often (very hard, as I could barely eat anything during the worst weeks!), *trying* to eat more fat and protein, etc. I have had been any sicker, I would have had to look for medical help. I did notice that upping my dose of fermented cod liver oil (which I’ve already taken daily for years) helped me some, but it’s only now, getting close to the 14th week, that my nausea symptoms are really starting to lessen. I kept up with the transdermal magnesium through this, and either took the liquid ionic or the “Natural Calm” magnesium powder internally in water. I just feel that there has to be more to the situation than magnesium deficiency, since I don’t see how I could have been deficient, yet had a really rough time. I stick to a real food, WAPF diet, make everything at home from scratch, emphasize healthy fats, etc. Do you have any ideas? Thanks! :)

    • Whitney says:

      I was just remembering that I’d have to stay in an Epsom salt bath for a whole hour before feeling better. Also, I too was early pregnant this time of year, and got painfully nauseated when we visited a farming area where pesticides were in use. I think detoxing the pesticides was depleting magnesium. Just a thought! I kinda doubt magnesium deficiency is the sole cause of morning sickness. But I know it was an issue for me after years of WAPF eating, and that I needed lots of magnesium before seeing a glimmer of light.

  19. Whitney says:

    I was remembering this post with my sweet baby in my arms, and thought I’d take a moment to say thank you! Magnesium, alongside faith God would help me be the mom to my toddler that he intended, got me through! There were many times magnesium carried me from painfully nauseated to able to eat. Amazing!! After so many WAPF years, I’m amazed to still be magnesium-deficient–but hope to correct that before the next baby (never again!!!). Super thankful for this article, and planning to keep sending it along to fellow pregnant mamas!

  20. Sarah says:

    I had hypermesis gravidarum with both of my pregnancies. I took/take prenatal vitamins as my multivitamin for years prior to the conception of my first child to ensure adequate levels of folic acid. I was on EVERYTHING that was baby-safe to treat my “morning” sickness, including acupuncture, all to no avail. I was still vomiting during labor. I honestly think that it’s just the body’s response to hormones, especially progesterone. Since pregnancy, I am still sensitive to my post-ovulation progesterone surge, nearly to the point of vomiting.

    • Erica says:

      You make me feel not as bad that we couldn’t afford to try acupuncture too, along w/every other remedy we tried to treat my hyperemesis. Your experience sounds like mine & I also puked in labor. I’ve also gotten extremely nauseous (very close to losing it) during 3rd stage while delivering the placenta. Once the placenta is out, I am a new mama w/ZERO sickness and can eat, drink, etc. w/no issues.

  21. Divya says:

    I’m terribly sorry if this has been asked already in the comments but is there a difference between the benefits of magnesium citrate and magnesium bisglycinate for reducing morning sickness? I’ve heard too much of the citrate variety can cause loose bowel movements whereas the bisglycinate form is a much more potent and superior product. Thoughts?

    p.s. This is my first comment on the site but I’ve been a fan of Mommypotamus for many months now! Thank you for sharing all the excellent and essential information :)

  22. trisha says:

    would taking trace minerals work as effectively as the magnesium oil? i have been adding ConcenTrace to my water and foods for awhile…

  23. Magnesium Oil: Prevent Morning Sickness, Headaches, Cramps and More, Naturally! | Mamas with Muscles says:

    […] You’ve probably heard “that cortisol (the stress hormone) can cause weight gain, but did you know that’s because one of it’s main functions is to increase blood sugar? Yep, excess cortisol in your system takes your blood sugar through huge spikes and crashes, resulting in fatigue and nausea (aka morning sickness).  Normally, magnesium balances cortisol levels by cleaning the excess from our blood. BUT – Pregnancy hormones inhibit our ability to absorb magnesium! This can lead to a vicious cycle in which excess stress hormones cause nausea, which causes stress, which we can’t fully remedy because the very thing we need we can’t fully absorb, and then you get this → Ugh!” From […]

  24. Ashley C says:

    I read this post when it first came out and kept it close. I went above and beyond to prepare my body for my third, and we ended up TTC for 1.5 years so I had lots of time to work on it (And each birth is spaced by 3.5yrs so no back to backs sucking my stores dry). I had all my blood work done shortly before I finally conceived and it looked the best it ever has. Even my anemia was gone, a first in over a decade! So I was super excited that the magnesium might allow me to avoid morning sickness (as it was horrific with my first two. Looking back, I should have been diagnosed with HG). Sadly, my morning sickness this time around has been MUCH worse and lasted MANY more weeks. Luckily my care provider this time at least takes it serious and after trying every trick in the book I accepted a prescription for medication. Which still didn’t help. So then a second medication, and it took the edge off enough to survive each day with two kids on my own (husband is deployed) and leave the house on a desperate trip to get groceries every 2-4 weeks. I am 15 weeks now, still sick but a bit better aside from a few days ago when I vomited violently every half hour all day and nearly drove myself to the ER. :( I hope this helps many women though, or that something out there does. Because nothing has truly helped me and I’ve decided this will be our last biological child because of it. If only there really was a simple explanation and solution for it and every woman. *sigh*

    • Marisa says:

      I’m glad to hear others post their experiences, so I know I’m not alone. There is definitely more to it than magnesium deficiency.

  25. What I'm Reading Around the Web (First Trimester Edition) 5-16-2014 - 20 something allergies and counting...down says:

    […] to articles from Heather of Mommypotamus (The REAL Cause Of Morning Sickness) and Katie of Wellness Mama (How I Avoided Morning Sickness) , magnesium is the main […]

  26. MORNING sickness?! Try all day, forever and ever sickness! » The Attachment Diaries says:

    […] body’s low level of magnesium can contribute to nausea.  Mommypotamus did a great post about it here.  To help raise my levels and also help detox, I took Epsom salt baths about every other day.  I […]

  27. Megan says:

    Hi heather! Thanks so much for this information. I know that you described your stools being the indicator of the proper amount of amount of magnesium, but I’m wondering if you can overdose yourself without diarrhea? Or have adverse effects on your baby if you’re already pregnant? Tia!

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Megan, I am not a doctor and therefore cannot say much regarding dosages, but based on the information that has been relayed to me stools are considered a pretty reliable indicator.

  28. carrie says:

    I just bought the ancient minerals magnesium oil to help with my terrible morning sickness. How many sprays do you recommend? The bottle says 8 sprays gives approx 100mg of magnesium. Also how much time in direct sunlight do you suggest to help with the absorption?

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Carrie, I am unable to recommend dosages fro specific situations, but I believe Ancient Minerals has some recommendations.

  29. trisha says:

    What is the difference between the magnesium delivered by the Ancient Minerals oil and the magnesium in trace mineral drops, like ConcenTrace? (not in dosage, but in source or effectiveness) Thanks!

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Trisha, It is Heather’s understanding that magnesium is not optimally-absorbed in the digestive tract. However, she uses both, because frankly it’s just easier to put a few drops in water instead of rubbing it all over and waiting to dry before she goes to bed :)

  30. Christie says:

    I have been taking a calcium/magnesium supplement daily, for years. (It really keeps pms symptoms away)
    But still, pregnant the 5th time and I have Hyperemesis gravidarum.

    It is true that I cannot tolerate sugar at all either.
    So this is an interesting theory.

    • Christie says:

      also, I don’t think you should title this article as the REAL cause or cure. It misleads people, without backup. I read another one that blamed it on h.ployri bacteria and really got my hopes up because it was also title the ‘cure’. Didn’t work. :(
      You’ll need some studies to back up that claim. 😉

      • Heather says:

        Agreed. Based on what I’ve learned since I wrote this post I would have chosen a different title :)

        • Erica says:

          No matter what you titled it there will always be people something will work for & there will always be people it doesn’t, simply because we are all uniquely created individuals.

          I have HG again (5th time) though it does seem to be lessening some days at random for the 1st time ever. I am always 100% constantly extremely nauseous, but I am not 100% on the verge of losing my lunch (& breakfast & dinner… etc.) as I have been for my previous pregnancies. I’d say it is now maybe 75-80% which is a huge miraculous change for me. I stopped my mag spray for a couple of weeks or so & then started using it again & I was super sick again right away. I haven’t used it since & am feeling the mild reprieve… go figure!

          I am just going to enjoy any reprieve though it would be really nice to know WHY I have it randomly so I could keep it going more constantly.

          This pregnancy HG has also been very brutal come 2:30-3:00pm until bed time, which is also new for me. Not that it isn’t bad ALL day, but it is even worse once the afternoon rolls around… the evening is the worst of all though. I have boys & girls, so I can’t say that I suspect the opposite gender now.

  31. Healthy Child Network The REAL Cause Of Morning Sickness I Mommypotamus - Healthy Child Network says:

    […] By Mommypotamus […]

  32. The Real Cause of Morning Sickness | All Natural Home and Beauty says:

    […] I have a friend that is expecting her baby number 2. She is only a few weeks a long though and hasn’t yet entered the stage where symptoms come into play.  We were talking about the morning sickness she had during her first pregnancy and whether she would get it again this pregnancy.  That of course let to what actually causes morning sickness. I have never really thought much on it before and spouted off the typical scenarios/reasons that most people do. Then I of course looked into it and found that there may be more to that morning sickness. Mommypotmus gives us the real cause of morning sickness. […]

  33. A Healthy Pregnancy | Chamomile Creek says:

    […] an article discussing the benefits of magnesium and a homemade magnesium oil recipe. And, here is an article discussing the real cause of morning […]

  34. Susie says:

    No doubt magnesium is a big player in morning sickness, but I think the bigger picture is adrenal function, which you touch on, but magnesium alone may not be enough to support the adrenals.

    In addition to making cortisol, your adrenals are a secondary source of sex hormones. In the first trimester when you’re making all those lovely hormones, it’s your ovaries and adrenals that are responsible, until the second trimester when the placenta takes over. The extra burden of making all those hormones is too much on the adrenal glands, and they prioritize making the hormones over making and regulating cortisol, therefore your blood sugar peaks and craters, resulting in morning sickness (as you mention). But it isn’t too much cortisol (if anything, it’s not enough), and it might not be that there isn’t enough magnesium to regulate cortisol (although that’s a consideration), it’s that your adrenal glands are tired and otherwise occupied! Magnesium DOES play a big role in adrenal support and blood sugar regulation, but the deeper problem is adrenal fatigue rather than a simple mineral deficiency.

    Also, the biggest sign of low adrenal output is fatigue! Hence, first trimester fatigue. I’ve heard it mentioned that progesterone is the culprit for first tri fatigue, but how does that make sense if your progesterone levels only continue to rise throughout the pregnancy?

    I mean, don’t we all know someone who eats terribly and manages to not get sick or tired in the first trimester? Or that person who is a WAPF poster child, but still gets sick? Some people defy logic and can eat terribly, but still have adrenals of steel. Conversely, someone can have a stellar diet, but maybe work a stressful job or have other lifestyle stresses that drain their adrenals.

    He doesn’t mention pregnancy specifically, but I love James Wilson’s book on adrenal fatigue.

  35. My Supplements (prenatal, postpartum, and otherwise) | Natural Mommyhood says:

    […] or a host of other symptoms, you’re probably deficient.  It’s also been shown to reduce morning sickness (your levels would need to be adequate before becoming pregnant to see a decrease in […]

  36. Benefits and Uses for Epsom Salt - Nature's Nurture : Nature's Nurture says:

    […] Reduce symptoms of morning sickness […]

  37. Rebekah says:

    Hi Heather, can you use Magnesium Oil during pregnancy? We’re trying to get pregnant for the second time (we had a miscarriage last year) and I am wondering about trying to get my magnesium levels up! Thank you!

    • Heather says:

      I personally feel comfortable with using magnesium oil during pregnancy, and have not come across any contraindications regarding its use for pregnant women in my research. I used it during my last two pregnancies :)

  38. Elizabeth says:

    I have to say, when I first saw this post it was after my first baby and I was desperate for help. I’d been sick the whole pregnancy with undiagnosed hyperemesis gravidarum (our first doctor should have seen this but was incompetent and careless, we switched at 34 weeks). Anyway, I became obsessed with upping my magnesium levels and began immediately taking supplements and eating magnesium rich food and I could see a difference quickly. However fast forward a year and a half later and my morning sickness is worse than ever. It starts just before 5 weeks and tends to last the whole pregnancy. I really thought that my better diet, focus on increasing my mineral levels and taking better care of myself would eliminate it but apparently HG is different. I’ve heard theories that HG is because of a certain type of bacteria (h. Pylori) in the intestin but haven’t confirmed it. This could be why morning sickness sufferers fare better with magnesium than those with HG. Just my experience, hopefully in the future we’ll be able to find something for those of us struggling with this, because I’d love to have more children but have no idea how we’d ever manage through another pregnancy this sick again.

  39. Anna says:

    Hi :) I just wanted to leave a comment, just in case it might help someone else figure out what’s going on with their body and pregnancy. I started having severe morning sickness at about 8 weeks pregnancy that lasted until I found out the cause (for me) 9 weeks later. I was COPPER DEFICIENT. I still can’t believe it, but it was absolutely horrendous and even now if I think I can skip a dose of copper with my prenatal I will get paid back for it and the symptoms immediately come back. I am taking Garden of Life’s Prenatal with added chelated copper (2 or 3mg a day; no more than 3 and no less than 2). The results from the added Copper were, for me, absolutely MIRACULOUS and almost instantaneous.

    I am SO SO SO SO thankful that I was a biology major for part of my college career and was so studious (I made all As in the pre-med program at my school, but ended up changing because I ended up knowing that wasn’t the route I was supposed to ultimately take).

    After experiencing nearly all-day morning sickness, having literally everything smell absolutely horrible to me, and then eventually becoming extremely irritable (I had to stop working all of this got so bad… I am lucky that financially my husband and I are able to handle this. I really don’t know how I could have functioned otherwise…) I started experiencing symptoms similar to MS. I would have nerve pain/slight tremors, started developing spider veins/beginning varicose veins (a symptom of copper deficiency) and even slight twitching.

    Once all this happened I woke up one morning absolutely KNOWING I was having damage done to my Myelin Sheaths. It was like the word Myelin Sheath sang itself in a mantra inside my head -yelling at me to get online and do the research I needed to do to fix what was going wrong.

    In between trips to the trash-can and/or toilet (because I was throwing up bile at that point -I would throw up with absolutely nothing in my stomach) I researched online. I KNEW I didn’t have MS. I just knew that was not the case. I knew there was something going on — and all the research I did pointed to Copper Deficiency like a bright and shining arrow.

    I am supplement junky (seriously I am, I have enough herbal/vitamin supplements to fill up a very large kitchen drawer) and found out that I’d bought some copper a while back and decided that this was something I was absolutely going to try. I took about 4mg that day (the upper limit is 10mg, but taking that much is not something I’d advise unless your doctor recommends it, even if your deficient as I was/am).

    The results literally were almost instantaneous. By the end of the day not only did my all day “morning sickness” go away, but I could actually walk around without everything smelling incredibly strong and incredibly disgusting inside my own house and outside in my yard and neighborhood. I started to FEEL different as well. It was like Copper Deficiency affected the way I saw and felt about absolutely everything.

    These days SO MANY vitamins, including the high quality vitamins, have far more Zinc than Copper in them. If you eat a fortefied cereal chances are it contains far more zinc than copper. If you eat eggs (which are AWESOME for your growing baby, lots of good B vitamins, minerals, choline, etc) they contain a lot more zinc than copper.

    Before I conceived (and for the first few weeks) I was taking Megafood’s Women multivitamin. This is a whole food vitamin that is very reputable… After I found out I was pregnant I switched to Garden of Life’s Prenatal. I also took plenty of Magnesium (Natural Calm), Calcium (Swanson’s Coral Calcium), DHA (Garden of Life’s Prenatal DHA) and a small amount of Organic Spirulina to help chelate some of heavy metals that seem so prevalant in our food.

    I really thought I was doing everything so perfectly… But I really believe taking vitamins that have zinc/copper imbalances (more zinc than copper) for years probably contributed to my copper deficiency. Finding out what exactly it was causing my morning sickness has been an absolute MIRACLE. And I still believe I am somewhat copper deficient because I absolutely cannot take my prenatal (GoL’s prenatal is 3 pills a day) without Copper. I have small 2mg pills that I usually break in half and take that way. If I think I can get away with less copper my morning sickness and all the symptoms immediately start coming back.

    I’ve written a book here it feels like! But I seriously hope I can help someone else. If you are experiencing what I’ve experienced the conventional advice will NOT help you. Taking vitamin B6 (as recommended by my OB) only made my morning sickness Worse, which makes sense because taking B6 will only exacerbate a Copper Deficiency. Copper Deficiency can also cause problems for your baby. I am thankful that I caught mine when I did and believe part of my severe symptoms were because my body was giving all the copper in my prenatal (not very much) to my baby instead of to me (which of course I am glad of!).

    If you are experiencing traditional morning sickness with depression like symptoms, irritability, and then experience ANY kind of nerve pain or tremors you could be Copper Deficient, as I was. I stumbled on this page in googling the connection between mineral deficiencies and “morning sickness” and definitely am living proof that a mineral deficiency can cause severe morning sickness. I’m not sure what prompted me to write all of this, but I sure hope it ends up helping someone! My baby (boy) has been nothing but active and healthy in my only two ultrasounds, so I’m thinking my body gave all my dietary and prenatal copper to him, leaving me with the severe morning sickness and eventual more serious symptoms.

  40. Soni says:

    I love this article, Heather. Your research is always spot-on. I experienced a premature birth (delivery at 32 weeks) due to a yeast infection essentially caused by severe morning sickness. I hope women take the advice you’ve given here to help prevent morning sickness so they can avoid a premature birth, which is actually more common than many people realize. I wrote about it here:, and I cited this post in my article as well. Thanks again.

  41. Breanne Clinger says:

    Heather, many people are citing this post on the internet but I cannot find solid scholarly research to back up the idea that low magnesium causes morning sickness. Will you please show me where you found this info: “Pregnancy hormones inhibit our ability to absorb magnesium”. In my research I have only been able to find that morning sickness may cause vomiting causing a depletion in magnesium levels.

  42. Jenny D. says:

    Hi Heather, I use coconut oil topically every morning and night. Do you know if I could add magnesium oil to the coconut oil, and apply the blend? Thanks!

  43. sck says:

    Can you talk more about applying this supplement? Should you put it all over your body like you would body lotion, or are certain areas more important? Also do you recommend 1 x day? or more frequent? TIA

    • Skarlet says:

      I’m just another reader here, but I just survived the HG in my last pregnancy (just gave birth 2/10/15 to a beautiful 6pd 4oz daughter!), so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

      I tried the magnesium spray, all over my body. I didn’t do it more than once a day, because it tended to make my skin feel dry afterwards. Anyway, I personally found no effect from it.

      What worked for me (I initially lost 20 pds during pregnancy, but then was able to overcome the morning sickness and gain it back) was cocolaurin 3x a day.

      Of course, my morning sickness was so bad, I also had to be on Zofran just to keep it down, but after taking cocolaurin for over a month, the vomiting was gone, I didn’t need any medication, and I was able to start gaining back weight. It was a life-saver!

      • Whitney says:

        Wow! Great info, and it really fits with my own experience (I KNEW yeast and other infections in my stomach were an issue!). Congrats on your new addition, and thank you for sharing!

  44. Jennifer says:

    I was having horrible all-day morning sickness. Anyway, based on your recommendations, I started taking both topical magnesium and Calm (just 1tsp initially) on the same day. The next day, I felt a little better – my nausea was definitely much better in the morning, but by evening (the worst time of day for me) I was back to feeling awful. So, the second day I upped my dose and my symptoms improved a little more by Day 3. At around 500 mg / day, my nausea was 90% gone, I wasn’t vomiting, and my bowels starting moving again — but, nothing normal in that regard. And, still no appetite. I’m now at about 1000 mg / day, which I get through a combination of Ancient Mineral Oil, Calm, and a chelated magnesium. I also supplement with B-6, and Vitamins D and calcium (but I’m doing the minimum on calcium supplementation and try not to take it at the same time as the magnesium). Anyway, my nausea is virtually gone, no vomiting, my appetite is much improved, and I’m regular again (this is why I don’t think I’m overdoing it – no stomach upset as of yet). My point is, it took a lot more than the magnesium recommended RDA of 360 mg for a woman of my age to start feeling better. In fact, at that dose, I basically felt no better. I also have to say, now that I can stomach healthy food again, when I eat high protein / lower carb I feel much better – both that day and the next. It’s not my natural style of eating, as I’m mostly vegan. But, recently in pregnancy I’ve started eating eggs and dairy to try to up my protein intake. I still can’t let my stomach get too empty or I suffer the consequences: nausea. But, even then it’s so much more mild than what I experienced before supplementation. Anyway, this has changed my life! I’m exercising again and I can stomach whole, healthy foods – and I’m still in the first trimester. I feel almost like my old self! Thank you!!!

  45. morgan says:

    Not sure if I missed something in the article but if a person is deficient wouldn’t they continue to be sick past the 12wk mark? With my girls my morning sickness stopped at 12 wks. With my boys it stopped at 16 wks.

  46. Diane says:

    Had severe “all day sickness” for 3 pregnancies. (My Mom had same thing for all 3 in the 50’s – she had to go to doctor’s office weekly back then for vitamin B shots). Although my first trimesters were the roughest – I stayed nauseated until my babies were all born. I didn’t find any relief from my low energy and nausea and vomiting until a friend asked her chiropractor about my issue – ( she felt so bad for me). He sold all natural vitamin pills – and he told her to have me take the B vitamin pills he sold – I was to take one on the morning and one in the evening. She was so anxious to help me ( even though I was 5 months pregnant with my 3 rd child at the time) . I took that pill – which was more “wafer sized” – and tan colored – and all natural. Within about 30 minutes – a tremendous change came over me – My nausea level dropped from a 10 level to a 2. I got a burst of energy that I hadn’t felt for months! When my husband came home from work – instead of finding me lying on the couch trying to keep the nausea down – he found me vacuuming the carpet and dinner ready! I was 37 years old at the time – and I can’t tell you how good that vitamin was for me. I tool it faithfully – once in the morning and once in the evening. Several weeks later – I tested my need for it – and skipped the morning supplement – Boy! What a mistake!! In a very short time my body went right back to where I used to be! Severe first trimester nausea was coming back! I never made that mistake again. I kept taking it until the birth. I don’t know about the Magnesium thing – since it was the B vitamin only that I took. It’s been so Long ago – That I cannot remember if the pill was B6 only or all the B’s. Since it was so big ( horse pill size) – it must have been all the B’s. I wonder if that tablet would have worked in the first trimester. I tried to take prenatal vitamins then – but immediately thre them up – but I think the very small amount of vitamin B in those things wouldn’t have done anything for me. I remember throwing up 6 times before lunchtime – I remember about 4 months along with my third baby – sitting down to the table one night with my two sons (ages 13 and 11) and crying – They all asked – what’s wrong? I said – What’s the use of eating this dinner – I’m just going to lose it right away! ( a definite low time). Well – I’m an old Grandma now and so far my 2 daughters in law have not suffered much morning sickness – and my youngest son’s wife is about 6 weeks pregnant with no sickness yet – so I can’t test the theory of whether a higher dose very natural organic B vitamin complex would work for early morning sickness or not. But one thing I can say to all of you who are pregnant – take it one month at a time – I used to tell myself – ok – you got thru one month – now 2 months – now 3 months – the 9 months will be here and gone before you know – and the pregnancy issues will be a distant memory. But try the vitamin B complex – especially B6 and B12 – if it helped me – it will help anybody! :)

    • E says:

      I also took a b-complex & it did absolutely nothing. I got b injections, but they made me throw up even more because they gave me a horrid metallic taste in my mouth. That said, hopefully it can help someone out there, but for those it doesn’t, take heart that it may not help. I was very upset when it didn’t help & it made me feel even worse when I was extra upset thinking I would feel relief, but felt none.

      One thing that helped randomly was homeopathic tablets (Hyland’s). The thing was that one minute one would help & 15 mins later I’d be hurling again, so I’d take said remedy & it wouldn’t help. I would alternate them here & there… sometimes they worked & sometimes they didn’t. I was so grateful for the sporadic 15 mins or so they helped me. I’d be taking the cell salt by Hyland’s for sure. I am taking them now just part as rebuilding my body & stores after another HG pregnancy. I also give them to my baby & kids.

  47. Sarah says:

    Has anyone mentioned the connection between fluoridated water for drinking and bathing and the reduced absorption of magnesium that results? No wonder 80% of the population is deficient. A whole house fluoride filter is a must!

    • E says:

      Whole house fluoride filters are disgustingly expensive, though one would be very beneficial. I priced a whole house filter a while back & the one was $2-5K for filtering “everything”…but to add on the fluoride one it was double as that was an individual filter that had to be added on. Do you have an affordable one to recommend :)?

  48. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much for this and many posts like this. I am pregnant with baby #5. I have always been very healthy. However, as soon as I can get a positive pregnancy test, I had been sick in bed and barely able to function. I could not keep any fruits and vegetables down and lived on Sprite and french fries among other unhealthy choices. After 4 kids I decided to be done having kids despite my husband’s and my choice to have a large family. I had so many negative pregnancy symptoms that I couldn’t hardly function and I was a horrible mom while I was pregnant. My throat was tore up from morning sickness, I threw up as much blood as anything. I had restless leg syndrome so bad I could never rest. After I discovered your website and others and learned to change a few things in my diet I found out I was pregnant again. I cried for two days straight. But then I realized I wasn’t sick and had to keep taking pregnancy tests. I am almost due and have thrown up less in 7.5 months than I would in a typical week before. Mostly that was due to having a cold, exhaustion, (I do have four kiddos after all) and eating wrong. Thank you for what you do. I find it very informative and helps to open up so many different views I hadn’t thought of before. I can finally be excited to be pregnant and be excited for this little one, instead of just surviving.

    • Diana says:

      Kelly, I’d be interested in hearing specifically what diet changes you made. Was it just magnesium, or was there more? I’m always looking for ideas.

      I’m also a severe-NVP mum who has had one normal pregnancy after making major changes. The dietary changes that I’ve made to improve my pregnancies are as follows: eliminating sugar (and carbs in general), adding magnesium (oral and Epsom salts), raw liver, fermented cod liver oil, and lacto-fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, raw sauerkraut, raw pickles).


  49. Francesca says:

    Hi…I’m sorry if this has already been asked before…instead of magnesium oil can I take magnesium supplements before getting pregnant?

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