7 Foods That Are High in Magnesium
Learn the benefits of magnesium, how much you really need, which foods are good sources of it and whether you should consider a magnesium supplement.
From the first cereal commercial you see as a kid, you learn that you need vitamins and minerals in abundance. Like magnesium, for one. “Your body needs it to function correctly,” says registered dietitian Anna Taylor, RD.
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Here’s how to know if you’re getting enough — and what to eat to keep your levels up.
Magnesium is a real heavy hitter, Taylor says. It’s necessary for more than 300 enzymatic processes in the body, including:
The problem is, many people don’t get enough, forcing the body to compensate.
“When your magnesium levels are down, your body filters out less magnesium than normal to keep adequate levels in your body,” Taylor says. “But that’s not a great long-term strategy.”
It’s usually not a problem if you have days here and there where you don’t get enough magnesium. But an ongoing lack of it in your diet can lead to magnesium deficiency.
Certain conditions (and some medications) can also make it harder for your body to have adequate magnesium levels. These conditions include:
Early signs of magnesium deficiency include:
As magnesium deficiency gets worse, other symptoms may occur, including:
To get enough magnesium in your diet, experts recommend:
But before you pull out the calculator, Taylor has some advice: “I rarely recommend people tally up magnesium or other vital nutrients,” she says. “It’s tedious, difficult and ungainly. Instead, make sure to include a variety of fiber-rich plant foods in your diet every day.”
Here are Taylor’s top picks.
“Tap, mineral and bottled waters can be magnesium sources — but it’s difficult to know how much magnesium they contain because it depends on the water source,” Taylor says. “It’s anywhere from 1 milligram per liter to 120 milligrams per liter.”
So, if you drink the recommended two liters of water per day, that could be up to 240 milligrams of magnesium.
To reach the recommended amounts, Taylor recommends eating:
Magnesium supplements can be helpful if a doctor determines that you have a magnesium deficiency. But if you have no major health problems, Taylor says you should get magnesium from your diet.
“Food first is my mantra,” she says. “If you take a dietary supplement for magnesium and take too much, you’re going to get some uncomfortable side effects, such as cramping, diarrhea and nausea.”
Eating magnesium-rich foods also gives you more nutritional bang for your buck. “You’re not just getting magnesium from these foods — you’re also getting so many fantastic nutrients, such as vitamins, other minerals and phytonutrients,” she says. “Phytonutrients are plant compounds that are antioxidants, immunity boosters, anti-cancer agents and anti-inflammatories.”