One mineral that we all need in our daily diet but sadly, many of us overlook is that of magnesium. Magnesium is something that doesn’t garner as much attention as omega-3 fatty acids do or negative attention like trans fats do but is important just the same.
Not only does magnesium help you maintain optimal blood pressure levels as it’s a key electrolyte in the body, but it’s also going to be responsible for many other cellular activities that take place, ensuring that you go about your day to day life feeling your very best.
What are all the roles that magnesium has in the body and what foods should you be turning to in order to get more in? Let’s look at this as well some of the best choices as far as boosting your magnesium intake goes so that you aren’t left falling deficient.
Synthesis Of DNA
Did you know that magnesium is going to play a role in helping your body manufacture DNA? DNA is the blueprint in which your cells are then made from so very important to keep your body working optimally. When you aren’t getting enough magnesium into your diet, you may start to notice that other systems in your body are not regulated as they should be, causing ill health effects.
Creation Of Insulin
Another role that many people are unaware of that magnesium has is that it will help with the metabolism of insulin1. Insulin is the hormone that helps keep your blood glucose levels in proper balance, so when you aren’t getting enough of this powerful hormone, it’s not abnormal to see wide fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Insulin plays a key role in everyone’s lives, not just those who have diabetes, which you may have come to believe. You may think that only diabetics need to worry about insulin and whether they have enough or too much, but everyone is impacted by it just about after every single meal they eat.
It’s vital to keep the body’s blood sugar levels within a narrow range and this is only achieved by having insulin in the picture.
Prevention Of Alzheimer’s
We are also seeing a connection between insulin and Alzheimer’s as well2, so that’s another reason you’re going to want to have it in your diet plan on a regular basis.
It’s never too early to start thinking about brain health so even if you are young and feel great now, take advantage of this fact by eating well so that you can stay healthy in the long run.
Maintenance Of Blood Pressure
When many people think about blood pressure control, they tend to think of the sodium and potassium balance in the body. Or, some who aren’t as educated when it comes to nutrition may only think about sodium as we’ve all heard that if we get a warning from our doctor to start controlling our blood pressure levels better, this typically means we need to cut back on how much salt we consume.
Did you know however that magnesium also plays a key role in keeping your blood pressure levels in check as well3? Even if you are spot on with your potassium and sodium intakes, if you are too deficient in magnesium, you still may not be keeping your blood pressure levels where it needs to be.
For this reason, if you are at risk for heart disease or stroke or simply want to prevent either of those two issues from impacting you at any point in time, it becomes critically important to get your magnesium in.
Relief From Migraines
Those who suffer from migraines on a day to day basis will typically do anything to put a stop to them. Few things are as frustrating as migraines as they can completely ruin your day, causing you to hide inside a dark room and rest until they are over.
The great news is that it appears supplementing with magnesium (or ensure that you are eating more in your daily diet may help) could provide the fast relief that you’re looking for from these problems4.
Most people who get migraines are troubled by them fairly regularly, so it’s a natural treatment method that’s definitely worth exploring.
Finally, the last reason that you’ll want to consider adding more magnesium to your daily diet is that it can also play a critical role in your ability to regulate sleep5. If you aren’t sleeping well, you aren’t going to feel good– period – and there are so many things that can come into play impacting sleep.
Many people who struggle to sleep well at night often find that adding a magnesium supplement to their diet helps with this issue and they begin sleeping more soundly, however, if you can get your magnesium from wholesome foods, that is even better.
One thing to note, however: taking too much magnesium can lead to issues with diarrhea, which is one reason why it’s better to get it from food rather than supplementation.
With supplementation, you tend to get a rather large super dose – a dose that you would probably never achieve with food alone.
So to prevent that, focus on eating those magnesium-rich foods.
So which foods have the most magnesium? Let’s take a closer look so you know which ones to turn to.
Foods Rich In Magnesium
The great news is you don’t need to look too far to find a number of foods that will supply the body with ample doses of magnesium. Magnesium isn’t that hard to come by so even if you are a vegetarian (or just a picky eater!), you should still be able to get your daily needs met.
Let’s look at some of the top foods that you’ll want to consider.
Topping the list of foods that contain a good dose of magnesium we should have is spinach. Spinach is a great choice for everyone because it’s deemed one of the best superfoods out there and in addition to that, is also very low in calories.
So regardless of whether you are on a fat loss diet, looking to maintain your weight, or trying to build muscle, you should be able to include it in your plan. If you are looking to build muscle, consider cooking your spinach so it shrinks down and takes up less room in the stomach. This will help you fit in those necessary calories you’ll require to get that lean muscle mass built.
Per one cup of spinach that you eat, you’ll take in a whopping 157 mg of magnesium, which supplies almost 40% of your total daily needs.
If spinach isn’t your thing or you simply don’t have any around the house, Swiss chard is another great green to consider. Swiss chard is rich in many vital nutrients and more importantly, is also going to provide a high dose of calcium as well, making it a great food for helping to keep your skeletal system strong if you don’t take in dairy-rich foods.
Swiss chard cooks up beautifully and is an excellent addition to just about any dish.
Per one cup serving of Swiss chard, you’ll get 150 mg of magnesium, so just slightly less than what you get from spinach.
Chocolate lovers can finally feel great about their love for chocolate. Now with just one square of dark chocolate, you can get nearly a quarter of your total daily needs met for magnesium.
With one square containing 95 mg, it’s hard to go wrong. It is important that you choose dark chocolate however as dark chocolate has more of the ‘good stuff’ as far as health-boosting properties are concerned and less sugar.
The more sugar you start getting into that chocolate, the lower the magnesium content will become.
Nuts seem to get all the attention in our diets today but seeds can be just as nutritious. One seed you should start eating more often is pumpkin seeds, which offer an excellent dose of magnesium. Per eighth cup of pumpkin seeds, you’ll receive about 92 milligrams, providing just under 25% of your total daily needs.
Pumpkin seeds also present an excellent healthy fat profile, which will help you keep your cholesterol and heart health in check and even give some dietary fiber as well to keep your digestive system health and your appetite controlled.
Adding just a few pumpkin seeds to your salad or to top your main course meal can give it that final boost in nutrition you may be looking for.
Alternatively, now we do come to a nut to consider: almonds. Almonds are one of the most popular nuts that are eaten, so you may already be getting these into your daily diet plan.
If you are, great! You’re one step ahead of the game already. Almonds provide 75 mg of magnesium per serving so will deliver you approximately 19% of your total daily needs.
Almonds are a great food because they combine the three best hunger-busting nutrients out there – protein, dietary fiber and healthy fats, which will give you the best fighting chance of keeping your meal plan in check.
This said, do keep in mind almonds themselves are quite high in total calories, so don’t go eating handful after handful. Measure out your ounce or so serving and then put the bag away.
You don’t want to overdo it with these or you may pay the price with unwanted weight gain.
Beans are another superfood that often gets overlooked – sadly – for other grains like rice and pasta. Beans can be an excellent source of carbohydrates and also provide a good dose of protein as well, so unlike the former two foods, are a more complete choice.
Beans are also a perfect idea for anyone who follows a vegetarian diet thanks to the added protein they come packed with.
We already know that beans provide a wealth of potassium to the diet, which can help regulate blood pressure levels also, but you can count on a good dose of magnesium too.
With 60 mg per half-cup serving, you’ll take in 15% of your total daily needs.
Another excellent healthy fat you’ll want to get into your diet plan is the avocado, which is a rich source of not only magnesium but also vitamin E. Avocados are often deemed the best food to eat to help improve your skin health as they will nearly instantly help to clear up your skin and keep it looking vibrant and younger.
Avocados are also a great source of dietary fiber, so you’ll help keep the body more regular and thanks to the antioxidants they contain, may also help to delay the process of aging.
Avocados are unique because they are one of the only fruits to contain healthy fats and have hardly any sugar content.
If you do eat dairy, load up on the yogurt. Just be sure it’s a reduced sugar variety. Yogurt is great for supplying not only magnesium to the body but probiotics as well. These healthy bacteria are vital for keeping your gut health in check and strengthening your immune system.
Most people simply are not getting enough probiotics in their meal plans, so if you aren’t eating yogurt, we also highly recommend you consider taking in a probiotic supplement as well such as P3-OM. It’s the best on the market and will quickly help you reach healthy bacteria levels.
While bananas are typically regarded as the go-to food for getting your potassium needs met, the great news is they also house a good deal of magnesium as well. These are blood pressure level fighters through and through thanks to both of these electrolytes.
Most people have no problem getting enough sodium into their diet, but the other two they really struggle with and bananas provide them perfectly.
The potassium in bananas is also great for supporting optimal muscle contractions, so these are an ideal food to eat before you perform any sort of exercise as well.
So there you have what you need to know about magnesium and why it’s a must to consider getting into your diet plan. If you aren’t currently eating what you need to, focus on the above foods and you’ll have your needs met in a hurry.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a magnesium supplement do?
A magnesium supplement will help keep your blood pressure levels in check, it can help balance out your blood glucose levels, it regulates nerve impulses and muscle contractions, and it can help to keep your bones strong.
What food is highest in magnesium?
To get the most magnesium from a food source, turn to spinach. It’s a hard one to beat. Try a large spinach salad and you’ll not only get magnesium but a large dose of antioxidants as well.
What are the symptoms of low magnesium in the body?
If you are suffering from low magnesium, you may notice any of the following:
· Muscle cramps
· Muscle twitches
· Mental disorders /psychological issues
· Osteoporosis (over the long term if the deficiency is not cleared up)
· High blood pressure
· A feeling of weakness
· Higher incidence rates of asthma
· Irregular heartbeats
When is the best time to take magnesium during the day?
The best time to have magnesium in your diet will be later on in the evening as if you take it then, it may help you lull yourself into a deeper sleep.
How much magnesium do I need to eat each day?
For optimal health, you should aim to take in 310-420 mg of magnesium per day for the average adult. Keep in mind that if you are suffering from a health problem, your doctor may prescribe you to take more, up to a limit of 2500 mg per day. Only do this on the advice of a physician, however.
1. Barbagallo, Mario, et al. “Role of magnesium in insulin action, diabetes and cardio-metabolic syndrome X.” Molecular aspects of medicine 24.1-3 (2003): 39-52
2. Durlach, J. “Magnesium depletion and pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.” Magnesium research 3.3 (1990): 217-218.
3. Dyckner, Thomas, and P. O. Wester. “Effect of magnesium on blood pressure.” Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 286.6381 (1983): 1847-1849.
4. Swanson, Don R. “Migraine and magnesium: eleven neglected connections.” Perspectives in biology and medicine 31.4 (1988): 526-557.
5. Hornyak, Magdolna, et al. “Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study.” Sleep 21.5 (1998): 501-505.