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15 Foods High in Magnesium to Boost Your Health

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD June 3, 2022
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Magnesium is an essential nutrient in the body. Magnesium plays a role in processes that include bone building, the synthesis of DNA and RNA, protein synthesis, energy production, nerve function, and calcium absorption.

For females, between 310mg and 320 mg of magnesium is needed daily and for men, 400mg to 420mg is required. This amount varies depending on age, and during pregnancy.

Consuming magnesium-rich foods can ensure that you get the requisite amount of magnesium each day to keep your body functioning properly. If you’re looking for foods that will increase the magnesium levels in your body then this article can help you out.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at:

  • Dark chocolate 
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Legumes
  • Soybeans and edamame
  • Tofu
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Some fatty fish
  • Bananas
  • Leafy greens
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Potatoes with peel
  • Water
  • What about magnesium supplements?
  • Benefits of magnesium
  • Signs of magnesium deficiency

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  1. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate offers 64 mg of magnesium per 28g serving, which is a significant portion of the recommended daily allowance for adults at around 16%.

Dark chocolate is also rich in other minerals including iron, copper, and manganese, and it contains prebiotic dietary fiber.

It comes with other health benefits which include antioxidant properties that can lower LDL cholesterol levels and protect your body against the damage caused by oxidative stress.

To reap all of the benefits of dark chocolate, make sure you choose products containing at least 70% cocoa.

  1. Avocados

Avocados are a good food to consume to increase your daily magnesium intake. One medium avocado contains around 58 mg of magnesium. This is equivalent to around 15% of your RDA.

Other vitamins and minerals that avocados are high in include B vitamins, vitamin K, and potassium. They also have a high fat content.

Health benefits of consuming avocadoes include reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and helping you to feel fuller.

  1. Nuts

Nuts are generally considered a healthy snack. Nuts that are high in magnesium include cashews, which contain 82 mg of magnesium, almonds with 80 mg, and brazil nuts with 106 mg.

Nuts can also offer fiber and monounsaturated fats, as well as a range of other minerals. They have anti-inflammatory effects and can help you to feel fuller for longer making them a good snack for those trying to lose weight.

  1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has a good amount of magnesium per serving with 57 mg of magnesium in each one. It also contains lots of other minerals, including phosphorus, zinc, niacin, and vitamin B6.

Each serving of peanut butter contains around 7g of protein, however, it should be consumed in moderation as it contains high levels of sodium and saturated fats.

Peanut butter is good for improving heart health, boosting muscle growth, and could help with weight loss.

  1. Legumes

Legumes include chickpeas, lentils, beans, and peas and provide lots of nutrients and vitamins, including magnesium.

High magnesium legume choices include black beans which provide 60mg of magnesium per serving and lima beans which contain 40 mg of magnesium.

Legumes are also a good source of protein and contain potassium and iron. They are also thought to improve cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar and improve heart health.

  1. Soybeans and Edamame

Soybeans offer around 106 mg of magnesium per serving while edamame can provide around 50 mg, making both of these foods good choices when picking foods high in magnesium.

Both also offer high protein contents and are rich in B vitamins and copper.

  1. Tofu

Tofu is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets and can provide a good meat replacement. It contains about 53 mg of magnesium per serving and also provides lots of protein.

Other minerals tofu offers include calcium, manganese, iron, and selenium. As magnesium is needed for calcium absorption, tofu may be good for bone health.

The other benefits of consuming tofu include protection for the cells that line your arteries and a reduction of the risk of stomach cancer.

  1. Seeds

Lots of seeds offer high magnesium levels, including pumpkin seeds with 150 mg per serving, chia seeds with 95 mg per serving, and flaxseed with around 107mg per serving.

Seeds are also a good source of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids and they contain antioxidants that protect your body from the damage caused by oxidative stress. 

In addition, nearly all the carbs in seeds come from fiber. This makes them a good snack to help you feel full between meals.

The benefits of consuming seeds could include a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol level, as well as blood sugar regulation.

  1. Whole Grains

The list of whole grains to add to your diet is multitudinous. Grains with high magnesium levels include wholewheat with 160 mg of magnesium per cup of flour and barley with 244mg per cup.

Though some with celiac disease may find it difficult to add this food into their diet, there are some non-gluten-containing grains with high levels of magnesium too. Buckwheat does not contain gluten and provides 230 mg of magnesium per cup.

Whole grains are a better choice for consumption over refined carbs and can help with blood sugar regulation. They’re also a good source of fiber, protein, and B vitamins.

  1. Some Fatty Fish

Fatty fish with high magnesium content includes salmon (53 mg per fillet), halibut (53 mg per fillet), and mackerel (48 mg per piece). It also contains lots of protein and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Other nutrients offered by these types of fish include potassium and B vitamins and consumption of them has been linked to a lowered risk of a number of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease.

  1. Bananas

Bananas are a popular fruit that contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Most commonly known for its high potassium content (at least 360 mg per banana), bananas also have a high magnesium content providing 37 mg per banana.

Bananas have been linked to a reduction in blood pressure and may also help to lower your risk of heart disease.

  1. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and collard greens, are commonly recommended in lists of healthy foods to consume and for good reason. They can offer high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron and manganese.

In terms of magnesium content, good dark leafy greens options include spinach which contains around 24 mg per cup, and kale with 31 mg per cup.

Consuming dark leafy greens also means consuming lots of other plant compounds which can help to reduce your risk of certain kinds of cancer and heart disease, reduce blood pressure, and reduce the risk of mental decline.

  1. Low-Fat Dairy Products

When choosing dairy products, reduced-fat options tend to have high magnesium contents which makes them a good choice if you’re looking out for foods high in magnesium.

Low-fat milk has between 24 mg – 27 mg of magnesium per cup and low-fat yogurt can provide around 42 mg per 8oz, which is about 10% of your RDA.

Low-fat dairy products are a good choice for those who are trying to lose weight, though they would not be suitable for the ketogenic diet

When you buy reduced-fat dairy products, make sure to check the label for any added sugars so that you’re not accidentally eating hidden calories.

  1. Potatoes With Peel

Keeping the peel on many fruits and vegetables can actually help you to increase your intake of vitamins and minerals, supporting a healthy immune system and boosting overall health.

Eating potatoes with the peel can provide you with about 49mg of magnesium per medium-sized potato.

Adding potatoes to a meal can help you to feel fuller for longer as they contain lots of fiber. This makes them a good choice if you’re trying to lose weight or cut down on snacking.

  1. Water

Drinking water regularly is good for your overall health and good hydration can make you feel more alert, but water is also good for consuming more magnesium.

Though it only has a small amount compared to some of the foods listed here, just 10mg per liter, drinking water during the day is a good way to increase your magnesium absorption and ensure you get enough to meet your body’s needs.

What About Magnesium Supplements?

Some people may worry that they do not eat enough foods with high magnesium levels to hit their daily recommended values and may consider turning to a magnesium supplement.

Supplements come in many forms, including magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate, and can be used to supplement your magnesium intake. However, while consuming too much magnesium is not a concern when getting your intake is from food, it could be with supplements.

Dietary supplements can be good for those who have illnesses that reduce magnesium absorption (and the absorption of other minerals), but it is best to get your vitamins and mineral intake from food. Indeed, it is possible to get all the magnesium you need from food.

A supplement of magnesium may also interact with certain medications you are taking, so while you’ll get a magnesium boost, you could cause issues in other areas of your health.

If you’re concerned that you’re not getting the adequate intake of vitamins and minerals recommended, speak with health professionals to better understand how improving your diet could boost your intake.

Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium comes with many benefits and is crucial for our health. It is also essential for those who choose to fast intermittently to get enough magnesium in their eating window.

Benefits of magnesium include:

  • Important in many biochemical reactions – Magnesium is an incredibly important mineral in your body and is actually required by every single cell. It is involved in reactions including those for energy production, and calcium absorption.
  • Good for exercise – Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles for energy and removes lactate build-up to help you work out for longer.
  • May help with symptoms of depression – Low levels of magnesium are often seen in people with depression and boosting your intake could reduce symptoms.
  • Blood sugar regulation – Magnesium is thought to help enhance insulin sensitivity and those with more magnesium in their blood are at a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Promotes heart health – Magnesium is useful in blood pressure regulation and may also regulate levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Could reduce inflammation – Low magnesium levels have been linked to higher levels of inflammation, indeed, it is thought magnesium could help reduce inflammation in diseases like Crohn’s disease.
  • Promotes bone health – Magnesium is crucial in protecting against loss of bone and maintaining the overall health of bones.
  • Helps with sleep – Increased intake of magnesium has been linked to better, longer, and more quality sleep.
  • Could help anxiety – Higher levels of magnesium in the blood have been linked to a reduced risk of developing or experiencing anxiety.

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

If you’re wondering whether you need to increase your intake of magnesium, you may want to find out what the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency actually include. Below is a list of them.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness
  • Shaking
  • Pins and needles
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hyperexcitability 
  • Sleepiness
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Conclusion

Magnesium is absolutely crucial in the body which means you need to get enough each day. Most people can get the magnesium they need from food and may only need supplements if their body doesn’t absorb magnesium well.

Magnesium can be found in a wide variety of foods. We’ve listed some of the best ones to choose here that can be easily incorporated into a healthy diet.

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Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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