Magnesium helps maintain the proper levels of other minerals such as calcium, potassium, and zinc. Your heart, muscles, and kidneys all need magnesium to work properly. The mineral also helps build teeth and bones.
Some health conditions can lead to magnesium deficiencies, including:
- gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease
- kidney disease
- stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea
Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine on a regular basis can affect your magnesium levels as well.
The National Institutes of Health recommends the following daily intake of magnesium:
- Children 1-3 years: 80 mg
- Children 4-8 years: 130 mg
- Children 9-13 years: 240 mg
- Teens 14-18 years: boys 410 mg and girls 360 mg
- Adults 19-30 years: men 400 mg and women 310 mg
- Adults 31+ years: men 420 mg and women 320 mg
Magnesium is found naturally in many different foods. Although magnesium deficiency is rare, many Americans don't get as much of the mineral as they should in their diets. Still, the average adult may only get 66 percent of their daily-recommended magnesium in their normal diet. This could be a result of the amount of processed foods we eat.
The following 10 foods are some of the best natural sources of magnesium. Try incorporating more of these foods into your diet to get a magnesium boost.
1. Whole Wheat
Most whole grains are a good source of magnesium, but whole wheat flour wins with 160 mg per cup. Use whole wheat instead of white flour for baking, and buy whole wheat bread at the store.
Dark, leafy greens are rich with nutrients, and spinach is no exception.
One cup of boiled spinach has 157 mg of magnesium.
Quinoa is prepared and eaten in a way that's similar to rice. It's known for its many health benefits, including a high protein and mineral content.
One cup of cooked quinoa has 118 mg of magnesium.
4. Almonds, Cashews, and Peanuts
Not only are almonds, cashews, and peanuts a healthy snack, but they're also packed with magnesium.
One ounce of almonds has 80 mg, or about 20 percent of your recommended daily intake. Cashews have 74 mg per ounce, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain 49 mg of magnesium.
These toasted nuts can be added to a variety of dishes for extra texture and flavor.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has 64 mg of magnesium in a 1 oz serving and one square is loaded with antioxidants which is great for heart health. Choose a dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids.
6. Black Beans
All beans have health benefits, but when it comes to magnesium, black beans come out on top. They boast 120 mg per cup.
Warm up this winter with spicy black bean chili, or try making easy black bean dip for your next gathering.
Edamame are soy beans still in the pods.
They're usually steamed or boiled and can be eaten plain or added to a dish.
Half a cup of shelled, cooked edamame beans have 50 mg of magnesium.
Avocados have 58 mg of magnesium per fruit which is 16% of your needs for the day, and they also contain healthy fats (which are good for heart and brain health). Avocados are high in B vitamins and Vitamin K, and have more potassium than bananas.
Tofu is an excellent meat substitute, whether you're a vegetarian or just looking to switch things up a bit.
Half a cup of tofu has 37 mg of magnesium.
10. Cultured Yoghurt
Cultured yogurt is a nutrient-rich food that has 30 mg of magnesium per cup and is a great source of protein. Not to mention it contains omega-3 fatty acids, many vitamins and minerals, and gut-healthy probiotics.
Be Wary of Phytic Acids
Phytic acid, the storage form of phosphorus in seeds, nuts, beans, legumes, and grains can bind to magnesium in the GI tract, making it less available to our bodies. To reduce the anti-nutrient effects of phytic acids in foods, try the following:
- Soak, sprout, ferment, and cook plant foods
- Eat vitamin C rich foods with meals containing phytic acid
- Use vinegar in salad dressing and cooking to enhance mineral absorption and offset phytic acid