Magnesium is an essential mineral that serves many roles in the human body.
This mineral is crucial for overall health, as it helps the body regulate its heartbeat, allows the muscular and nervous systems to function appropriately, and stores energy.
Spinach is brimming with magnesium, and just a single cup of cooked spinach contains 157 mg. That’s an incredible 37% (assuming a 420 mg intake) of the recommended daily intake in a single serving.
It’s also loaded with other healthy nutrients like iron and vitamin C, so spinach certainly punches above its weight class when it comes to healthy food.
This leafy green is linked to a number of amazing health benefits.
Spinach can improve eye health by reducing macular degeneration thanks to its levels of the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein. It also lowers the risk of oxidative stress, which can lead to cell damage.
Spinach even helps reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
It’s readily available and easy to prepare, so adding spinach to your diet shouldn’t be much trouble at all. It’s at its most healthy when it’s cooked, as the body has an easier time absorbing spinach’s nutrients when its oxalic acid is cooked away.
One of the tastiest options on the list, dark chocolate packs 67 mg of magnesium into a 1 oz serving. That’s a delicious way to get around 15% of the recommended daily magnesium intake.
Reach for dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa, any lower and the higher sugar content begins to outweigh its health benefits. Higher levels of cocoa will offer even more health benefits because it offers more antioxidants.
In addition to being an excellent source of magnesium, dark chocolate is full of other minerals like iron and copper, which enable the body to produce white blood cells and can reduce help the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dark chocolate also helps regulate cholesterol numbers by raising the body’s HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers its LDL (bad cholesterol).
While the health benefits of chocolate might come as a bit of a surprise, there aren’t many better – or delicious – ways of getting the necessary amount of magnesium.
A 6 oz filet of bluefin tuna boasts a whopping 109 mg of magnesium, enough to satisfy roughly a quarter of the necessary daily intake.
Tuna is also packed with protein, which aids in the body’s absorption of magnesium as well as being necessary for tissue growth and maintenance. Protein also helps regulate metabolism.
Protein plays a vital role in muscle growth and development, vital for building and maintaining strength.
Omega-3s, which help the body lower its LDL, are highly prevalent in tuna. This leads to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tuna and other fatty fish like salmon can be a staple of a healthy diet, but choice cuts of fish tend to be more expensive. They can, however, be prepared in a variety of delicious ways, and their health benefits are numerous.
Sushi lovers rejoice. Tuna is at its most healthful when it’s raw, as the cooking process reduces the levels of the beneficial Omega-3s.
However, raw tuna contains a significant amount of mercury so moderation is necessary. Pregnant women and the elderly should avoid raw tuna for this reason.
Filets are always a better option than canned tuna, as the canning process strips away many of the fatty acids that make tuna a healthful option. Canned tuna’s sodium content is also much higher than fresh tuna, which can contribute to high blood pressure and raise the risk of heart issues.
Most people know bananas have a high amount of potassium, but they’re also an excellent source of magnesium. A cup of banana has 41 mg of magnesium.
Bananas have high levels of other beneficial nutrients as well. Eating bananas is a good way to get vitamin C and vitamin B6, which provide boosts to the immune and nervous systems. They’re also a great source of fiber, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and is linked to overall colon health.
Unfortunately, all these great health benefits come with a minor downside. Bananas have a high sucrose content, so those that need to monitor their sugar intake would be better served to pursue other magnesium sources.
Bananas are plentiful and typically very inexpensive. If sugar isn’t a concern, bananas can be eaten daily. A healthy adult can add as many as two bananas a day to their diet.
Avocados provide many of the same health benefits as bananas, namely magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins.
A serving of avocado contains 58 mg of magnesium, slightly edging out bananas as a magnesium source while containing much less sugar.
Additionally, avocados are a healthy source of monounsaturated fat, which helps the body lower its level of LDL, dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease, and helps you lose weight. Their fat content helps contribute to a feeling of fullness and stops overeating.
This magnesium-rich health food can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Sliced avocados make a great addition to salads, crushed avocados are the main ingredient in guacamole, and they can even be smeared on toast.
Vegan and vegetarian readers will be delighted to find out tofu is a fine source of magnesium.
Long heralded as the principal source of protein for meat-less eaters, a single serving of tofu contains 53 mg of magnesium.
This soy product also features a long list of other healthy nutrients like iron, calcium, manganese, and fiber.
Surprisingly, tofu can also help prevent hair loss due to its high levels of keratin and selenium. Keratin helps the body produce hair while selenium strengthens the skin on the scalp, making it more difficult for hair to fall out.
Tofu is most commonly cooked in a skillet but can be eaten straight out of the package. It’s a highly versatile food that can easily be incorporated into many recipes.
Who would have thought that a handful of almonds could have so many amazing health benefits? A single 1 oz serving of almonds contains 77 mg of magnesium.
Almonds are also chock full of other healthy vitamins and nutrients like monounsaturated fat, fiber, protein, and manganese.
All of these health benefits mean almonds can be a staple in a healthy diet. They make a great snack and can help curb appetite between meals, helping with weight loss.
Avoid blanched almonds to attain their maximum health benefits. Many of the nutrients and antioxidants are found in the skin, which is removed in the blanching process.
Seeds, another quality snack that’s easy to eat by the handful, make a great source of magnesium.
An oz of pumpkin seeds contains 156 mg of magnesium, and a serving of hemp seeds has a staggering 197 mg of magnesium.
Seeds are also high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, so the health benefits are numerous while the calorie count per serving remains low.
They help with weight loss and improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Seeds are a versatile food and can be added to many dishes or serve as a healthy substitute when preparing desserts like cookies or pudding. Seeds make a lovely crust on a fine cut of meat or are added to salads for an extra crunch.
Whole grains come in a variety of forms, from wheat and barley to quinoa and brown rice.
Quinoa is the best whole grain source of magnesium with 117 mg per serving, slightly higher than brown rice’s 86 mg per serving.
These nutrient-rich grains feature a lot of the same healthy nutrients found in many of the other foods on this list, like fiber, manganese, protein, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
Whole grains are less processed than other refined grains like white bread and white rice. The refining process strips away the grain’s bran and germ, and many of the valuable nutrients are lost in the process.
Whole grains can promote weight loss, improve heart health, and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Substituting white bread for wheat bread is an easy way to add whole grains to a diet, and whole grain oats make delicious and nutritious oatmeal.
Many dairy products have a high magnesium content. Skim milk is the best source, with 54 mg in a 16oz source, while non-fat yogurt contains 47 mg per cup.
Skim milk can be enjoyed as a beverage or used in cooking, while non-fat yogurt makes a wonderful healthy dessert. Just avoid sweetened yogurt, and enjoy it with fruit, whose natural sugars provide the perfect touch of sweetness.
Dairy products are also rich in calcium, potassium, and protein, so they represent an important part of a balanced diet.
The benefits of protein are numerous, while calcium is important for bone health and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Many dairy products come fortified with vitamin D, which can reduce the risk of cancer, promote heart health, and protect against diabetes.
Don’t overdo it with dairy products, though. Unfortunately, they’re high in cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which are linked to heart disease.
Magnesium’s role doesn’t end there. It makes important contributions to the creation and preservation of DNA and RNA, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and contributes to a healthy mental state. As many as 600 biological processes depend on magnesium.
Magnesium may be one of the most common and important minerals in the body, but it must be obtained through outside sources. The body does not make magnesium on its own.
Without magnesium, the body isn’t able to function properly, so it’s important that everyone ensures they are getting enough of this valuable essential mineral.
The recommended daily magnesium intake is 420mg for an adult male and 310 mg for an adult female. People under 30 require lower amounts of magnesium.
A magnesium deficiency results in a multitude of issues. Cramps, fatigue, and muscle spasms are some of the milder side-effects, only resulting in minor discomfort. The more severe side-effects, like seizures and irregular heartbeat, can have dangerous and long-term consequences.
Magnesium is available in the form of a supplement, but most healthy adults shouldn’t worry about taking them. It’s easy enough to get the necessary amount of magnesium from foods rich in the mineral, and supplements can cause problems of their own.
Too much magnesium can pose problems, though they are typically less severe than that of a magnesium deficiency. An overload of magnesium is usually expelled through urine, so increased urination is the most common side effect. Excess magnesium can also cause diarrhea, stomach pain, fatigue, and low blood pressure.
Supplements sometimes will interact with other medications, like diuretics and heart medications. In exceedingly rare cases, a magnesium overdose can prove fatal.
It is always best to obtain magnesium through food sources, and these 10 foods are packed with the mineral. Many of them are easy to find and prepare, and they contribute to overall health in addition to being loaded with magnesium.
Magnesium plays many vital roles in the human body, and it’s essential for healthy living.
It makes indispensable contributions to the muscular system and the nervous system while helping regulate heartbeat and blood pressure.
While the recommended amount of magnesium seems quite high, it’s actually easy to reach that level with smart food choices.
From snacks to main courses, many foods rich in magnesium contain a host of other beneficial vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Foods like nuts and seeds can be enjoyed daily with very minimal health risks.
However, in the cases of dairy and tuna, moderation is necessary, as they can pose complications if eaten in excess.
Magnesium deficiency is a serious matter that can have long-term health implications. While the issues start out innocuous, over time, they can develop into something severe. Severe complications include diabetes and heart disease.
RN, BSN, MBA, Graduate Certification in Dietetics and Integrative Medicine. I previously worked with a Functional Medicine Internal Medicine DO, providing nutritional and lifestyle counseling to patients who are experiencing autoimmune conditions, digestive issues, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, pre-diabetes, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, liver overload issues, or who want to age with the best possible lifestyle.