10 Food sources of magnesium you should eat

In the human body, magnesium functions as an essential cofactor for over 300 enzymatic reactions and plays a role in energy production, nerve function, muscle function, bone health, heart health, blood sugar regulation, and electrolyte balance.

To maintain optimal health, it’s important to have a balanced diet that includes magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. 

In its basic form, magnesium is a glossy, silvery-white metal that is lightweight, ductile, and highly reactive.

Owing to its strong reactivity, magnesium is not found in nature as a free element but is often coupled to other elements in the form of compounds, such as magnesium oxide or magnesium sulfate.

What food is highest in magnesium?

There are several foods that contain magnesium, including both plant-based and animal-based diets. Here are 10 foods high in magnesium [1], [2]:

1. Leafy green vegetables

A fantastic source of magnesium as well as other necessary vitamins and minerals is leafy green veggies [3]. The following are some of the best leafy greens for magnesium:

  • Spinach: Significant levels of magnesium may be found in both raw and cooked spinach, while cooked spinach has a greater concentration because of its lower volume.
  • Swiss chard: Another great source of magnesium is Swiss chard, which also contains many other vital elements including vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Kale: Kale is a nutrient-rich leafy green with a significant magnesium content. Additionally, it has a lot of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Collard greens: Magnesium, as well as vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and other vital elements, are abundant in collard greens.
  • Turnip greens: Another leafy green food high in magnesium is turnip greens. They are also an excellent source of calcium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Mustard greens: Along with vitamins A, C, and K and other necessary elements, mustard greens also contain a respectable quantity of magnesium.
  • Beet greens: The leaves of the beetroot plant, known as beet greens, are sometimes disregarded yet are rich in magnesium and other minerals including potassium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
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2. Nuts and seeds

A nutrient-dense food, nuts and seeds can be a rich source of magnesium as well as other necessary minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and protein [4].

These tiny powerhouses not only provide a healthy dose of magnesium but also offer a range of other essential nutrients and health benefits.

  • Almonds: A one-ounce serving (about 23 almonds) contains approximately 76 milligrams of magnesium, which is about 19% of the daily recommended intake for adults. 
  • Cashews: They contain around 74 milligrams of magnesium per one-ounce serving and also a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Just one ounce provides approximately 150 milligrams of magnesium. These seeds are also rich in iron, zinc, and antioxidants, making them a great choice for promoting overall health.
  • Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds are a wonderful source of calcium, copper, and healthy fats in addition to magnesium [5].
  • Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds offer around 37 milligrams of magnesium per ounce.
  • Flaxseeds: Magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans, which are phytochemicals with antioxidant qualities, are all present in flaxseeds in large amounts.

3. Whole grains

Adding more whole grains to your diet instead of refined grains might help you consume more magnesium.  Top whole grains with magnesium content include:

  • Quinoa: Quinoa is a full-protein source and a gluten-free pseudo-cereal. Magnesium and other necessary elements like iron, potassium, and B vitamins are also abundant in it.
  • Brown rice: Due to the fact that it still has the bran and germ layers that are removed from white rice, brown rice is a rich source of magnesium. Additionally, brown rice offers fiber, vitamins, and other necessary elements.
  • Whole wheat: Whole wheat is a good source of magnesium, fiber, and B vitamins and may be found in whole wheat bread, pasta, and other goods.
  • Oats: Oats are a rich source of magnesium, especially in their whole form (like steel-cut or rolled oats). Additionally, they include fiber, protein, and a number of other crucial nutrients.
  • Barley: Magnesium is abundant in whole grain barley, especially hulled or hulless barley. Additionally, it has a lot of fiber and other vital nutrients.

4. Legumes

Legumes are a great supplement to a balanced diet since they are often high in magnesium. Additionally, legumes are a great source of fiber, several vitamins, and minerals as well as plant-based protein. Some of the best legumes high in magnesium include:

  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans): Magnesium, as well as other vital elements like iron, zinc, and B vitamins, are abundant in chickpeas. They are also a fantastic source of fiber and protein.
  • Lentils: Along with other crucial elements like iron, zinc, and folate, lentils also contain a sizable quantity of magnesium. They are an adaptable and high-protein legume.
  • Lima beans: Butter beans, also known as lima beans, are full in fiber, potassium, iron, and magnesium in addition to other vital elements.
legumes

5. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is particularly rich in magnesium compared to other types of chocolate. On average, a 100-gram (about 3.5 ounces) serving of high-quality dark chocolate can provide around 230 milligrams of magnesium [6], which is approximately 58% of the daily recommended intake for adults.

Beyond magnesium, dark chocolate contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids, which have been linked to various health benefits. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Dark chocolate also contains compounds that may improve mood and mental well-being. 

6. Fruits

Fruits are not only a delicious addition to your diet but can also be a surprising source of magnesium. Including magnesium-rich fruits [7] in your daily intake is a tasty way to support your overall health.

  • Bananas: An average-sized banana contains around 37 milligrams of magnesium. They are also a great source of potassium, which is essential for maintaining proper muscle and nerve function.
  • Avocados: A medium-sized avocado provides approximately 58 milligrams of magnesium, along with healthy fats, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals.
  • Figs: They are an excellent source of magnesium, with about 68 milligrams in a 100-gram serving of dried figs. Dried figs are also rich in dietary fiber.
  • Blackberries: Contains magnesium along with a host of antioxidants and vitamins. They offer approximately 29 milligrams of magnesium per 100-gram serving.

7. Seafood

Incorporating magnesium-rich seafood into your diet can be a tasty way to meet your daily magnesium needs while enjoying the health benefits that seafood offers.

  • Salmon: A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon provides approximately 26 milligrams of magnesium.
  • Mackerel: A 3-ounce serving of cooked mackerel contains about 97 milligrams of magnesium. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Halibut: A 3-ounce serving of cooked halibut offers around 24 milligrams of magnesium. It’s a versatile fish that can be baked, grilled, or broiled.

8. Tofu

The soy-based food tofu is a good source of magnesium. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of firm tofu has 50–60 mg of magnesium in it [8], which is around 12–15% of the adult daily requirement. The kind and stiffness of the tofu will determine how much magnesium is present.

Tofu is a fantastic source of plant-based protein, iron, calcium, and other crucial elements in addition to magnesium.

It may be a flexible and nourishing addition to a range of cuisines, making it a well-liked option for people following plant-based diets and trying to consume more nutrient-dense foods.

Incorporating tofu into your diet not only enhances your magnesium intake but also offers a valuable source of plant-based protein and other essential nutrients.

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9. Dairy and dairy alternatives

Dairy products and their alternatives offer a rich source of essential nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.

Including these options in your diet not only supports bone health but also helps you meet your daily magnesium needs.

Dairy products

  • Yogurt: A 6-ounce serving of plain yogurt typically provides around 20-30 milligrams of magnesium. Greek yogurt, in particular, is known for its higher protein content.
  • Milk: Cow’s milk is a well-known source of calcium and magnesium. A cup of milk contains approximately 24-27 milligrams of magnesium. 

Dairy alternatives

  • Almond milk: A cup of fortified almond milk can offer around 24-30 milligrams of magnesium.
  • Soy milk: It typically provides 30-40 milligrams of magnesium per cup. Additionally, soy milk is a good source of protein.
  • Coconut milk: One cup of canned coconut milk can offer approximately 88 milligrams of magnesium.

10. Herbs and spices

While herbs and spices are typically used to add flavor and depth to dishes, they also contain surprising amounts of magnesium.

Incorporating these flavorful ingredients into your cooking can be a delightful way to boost your magnesium intake.

  • Basil: Just two tablespoons of fresh basil provide around 4 milligrams of magnesium. Basil is versatile and can be used in salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and as a garnish for soups.
  • Cilantro: Coriander leaves, known as cilantro in some regions, are rich in magnesium. Two tablespoons of fresh coriander offer approximately 2 milligrams of magnesium.
  • Cumin: Cumin seeds, often ground into a spice, contain a significant amount of magnesium. A teaspoon of ground cumin provides approximately 4 milligrams of magnesium.

What is magnesium best for?

Magnesium is a vital element that offers several advantages to enhance general health and well-being. Some of the key benefits of magnesium [9] include:

1. Energy generation

Magnesium is involved in the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the major energy source for cells, which supports many cellular functions and overall energy levels.

2. Nerve function

Magnesium helps control nerve impulse transmission by functioning as a cofactor for neurotransmitters, helping to a healthy nervous system and avoiding excessive neuron excitement.

3. Bone health

Magnesium plays a vital role in the maintenance of bone density and structure because it is involved in both calcium and vitamin D metabolisms that are important for bone health. 

4. Cardiovascular health

Maintaining electrical function and regulating blood pressure, helping prevent heart disease such as hypertension and atherosclerosis, helps magnesium support a healthy heart.

5. Blood sugar regulation

Magnesium has a role in glucose and carbohydrate metabolism, which improves insulin sensitivity and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels.

blood sugar regulation

6. Enzyme function

More than 300 enzymatic events in the body require magnesium as a cofactor. These biochemical processes include DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, and cell signaling.

7. Muscle function

Magnesium regulates the movement of calcium ions into and out of muscle cells, ensuring normal muscular contraction and relaxation and avoiding cramps, weakness, and other associated problems.

8. Electrolyte balance

Magnesium is a necessary electrolyte that aids in keeping the equilibrium of other electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and calcium), which is required for healthy cellular activity.

9. Sleep quality

By controlling the generation of the melatonin, the sleep hormone, and supporting the action of GABA, a neurotransmitter that encourages relaxation, magnesium is known to aid in relaxing and may enhance the quality of sleep [10].

10. Mood and stress regulation

Since magnesium is involved in the synthesis and operation of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which contribute to positive sensations of wellbeing, it has been connected to mood stability and stress reduction.

Final takeaways

Incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet is a smart and delicious way to support your overall health and well-being.

From leafy greens like spinach and kale to nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, fruits, seafood, dark chocolate, tofu, dairy, and herbs and spices, there’s something for every palate and dietary preference.

Go ahead and experiment with these magnesium-rich ingredients in your kitchen. By making these foods a regular part of your diet, you can nourish your body and enjoy the benefits of adequate magnesium intake for a healthier you.

FAQs

Which fruit is rich in magnesium?

Bananas are a fruit rich in magnesium, with an average-sized banana containing around 37 milligrams of magnesium.

Which type of magnesium is best?

Magnesium citrate is often considered one of the best-absorbed forms of magnesium due to its bioavailability, but the choice of the best type may depend on individual health needs and preferences.

What drink is high in magnesium?

Almond milk is a drink that is high in magnesium, particularly when it’s fortified with this essential mineral.

What are the 10 signs of low magnesium?

Common signs of low magnesium include muscle cramps, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and muscle weakness, but it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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[1] https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/foods-high-in-magnesium.php 
[2] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food 
[3] https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-magnesium-vegetables.php 
[4] https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-magnesium 
[5] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sesame-seeds 
[6] https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-dark-chocolate 
[7] https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-magnesium-fruits.php 
[8] https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/benefits-tofu 
[9] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/magnesium 
[10] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/magnesium

Photograph: Image-Source/Envato
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