The 10 Best Foods Highest in Magnesium

The 10 Best Foods Highest in Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm, and building strong bones.

A deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, and cerebral infarction.

Conversely, consuming too much magnesium typically causes diarrhea as the body attempts to excrete the excess.

High magnesium foods include dark leafy greens, seeds, beans, fish, whole grains, nuts, dark chocolate, yogurt, avocados, bananas and more. The current daily value (DV) for magnesium is 420mg.

Below is a list of high magnesium foods, for more, see the extended lists of magnesium rich foods, magnesium fruits, and magnesium vegetables.

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Top 10 List of High Magnesium Foods

A Bowl of Spinach 1 Spinach
  • 37% DV (157mg) magnesium per cup cooked
  • Calories: 41 | Weight: 180g (6.3oz)

More Greens High in Magnesium

-36% DV in 1 cup of Swiss chard
-18% DV in 1 cup of kale
-10% DV in 1 cup of collard greens
-8% DV in 1 cup of turnip greens

See the list of high magnesium vegetables.

Nutrition Facts for Cooked Spinach.
Squash and Pumpkin Seeds 2 Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)
  • 37% DV (156mg) magnesium per 1oz handful
  • Calories: 163 | Weight: 28g (1oz)

More Seeds High in Magnesium

-47% DV in 1oz of hemp seeds
-27% DV in 1oz of flax seeds
-24% DV in 1oz of sesame seeds
-23% DV in 1oz of chia seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in protein which helps with magnesium absorption. See the list of all nuts and seeds high in magnesium.

Nutrition Facts for Roasted Squash And Pumpkin Seeds (unsalted).
Lima Beans 3 Lima Beans
  • 30% DV (126mg) magnesium per cup cooked
  • Calories: 209 | Weight: 170g (6oz)

More Beans High in Magnesium

-29% DV in 1 cup of white beans
-22% DV in 1 cup of black-eyed peas
-19% DV in 1 cup of kidney beans
-19% DV in 1 cup of chickpeas
-17% DV in 1 cup of lentils

See all beans high in mangesium.

Nutrition Facts for Cooked Lima Beans.
Tuna fillet 4 Tuna
  • 26% DV (109mg) magnesium per 6oz fillet
  • Calories: 313 | Weight: 170g (6oz)

More Fish High in Magnesium


-20% DV in a 3oz mackerel fillet -17% DV in a 3oz pollock fillet

Fish are very high in protein, which helps with magnesium absorption. See all fish high in magnesium.

Nutrition Facts for Bluefin Tuna (cooked).
Brown Rice 5 Brown Rice
  • 20% DV (86mg) magnesium per cup
  • Calories: 218 | Weight: 195g (6.9oz)

More Grains High in Magnesium

-28% DV in 1 cup of quinoa
-20% DV in 1 cup of buckwheat
-14% DV in 1 cup of bulgur
-12% DV in 1 cup of wild rice
-15% DV in 1 cup of whole wheat pasta

See all grains high in magnesium.

Nutrition Facts for Cooked Brown Rice.
Almonds 6 Almonds
  • 18% DV (77mg) magnesium per 1oz handful
  • Calories: 164 | Weight: 28g (1oz)

More Nuts High in Magnesium

-25% DV in 1oz of brazilnuts
-20% DV in 1oz of cashews
-17% DV in 1oz of pine nuts
-11% DV in 1oz of walnuts
-9% DV in 1oz of pecans

Nuts and seeds are high in protein which helps with magnesium absorption. See the list of all nuts and seeds high in magnesium.

Nutrition Facts for Almonds.
Dark chocolate squares 7 Dark Chocolate (85% Cocoa)
  • 15% DV (65mg) magnesium per 1oz square
  • Calories: 170 | Weight: 28g (1oz)

More Chocolate High in Magnesium

-23% DV in 1oz of baking chocolate
-12% DV in 3oz of 60-69% dark chocolate
-10% DV in 3oz of 40-59% dark chocolate

Nutrition Facts for Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cocoa).
Half an avocado 8 Avocados
  • 14% DV (58mg) magnesium per avocado
  • Calories: 322 | Weight: 201g (7.1oz)
Plain yogurt with raspberries 9 Non-Fat Yogurt
  • 11% DV (47mg) magnesium per cup
  • Calories: 137 | Weight: 245g (8.6oz)

More Dairy Foods High in Magnesium

-13% DV in a 16oz glass of skim milk
-12% DV in a 16oz glass of whole milk
-4% DV in 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta

See all dairy foods high in magnesium.

Nutrition Facts for Non-fat Yogurt.
Bananas 10 Bananas
  • 10% DV (41mg) magnesium per cup sliced
  • Calories: 134 | Weight: 150g (5.3oz)

See All 200 Foods High in Magnesium

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Extended List of Magnesium Rich Foods

#1 Rice Bran 219% DV (922mg) in 1 cup
#2 Tofu 35% DV (146mg) in 1 cup
#3 Wheat Germ 22% DV (91mg) in 1 oz
#4 Alaskan King Crab 20% DV (84mg) in 1 leg
#5 Peanut Butter 14% DV (57mg) in 2 tbsp
#6 Molasses 12% DV (48mg) in 1 tbsp
#7 Whole Milk 6% DV (24mg) in 1 cup
#8 Whole Wheat Bread 6% DV (24mg) in 1 slice
#9 Espresso 6% DV (24mg) in 1 fluid ounce
#10 Seaweed (Dried Spirulina) 3% DV (14mg) in 1 tbsp
#11 Coffee 2% DV (7mg) in 1 cup

Health Benefits of Magnesium

  • Regulation of Blood Pressure - Diets high in fruits and vegetables provide both magnesium and potassium which are consistently associated with reduced blood pressure.3-5
  • Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes - Magnesium is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and the bodies use of insulin.6 Studies show that individuals with type II diabetes have low levels of magnesium in their blood.7 Correcting this lackof magnesium may help increase sensitivity to insulin and prevent type II diabetes.8
  • Reduced Risk of Heart Attack and other Cardiovascular Diseases - Because magnesium is associated with regulation of blood pressureand lower risk of diabetes, it follows that it also reduces risk of cardiovascular disease.9 Elevated levels of magnesium in the blood has been associated with reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.10-12
  • Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis - Magnesium plays a role in calcium metabolism and hormones which regulate calcium and may helpto protect against osteoporosis.7,13 Several studies support that increased magnesium intake increases bone health.7,14
  • Reduced Frequency of Migraine Headaches (*Controversial) - Studies show that individuals who have frequent migraine headacheshave lower levels of magnesium than other individuals.15 There is conflicting evidence as to whether increased intakeof magnesium will reduce the frequency of migraines.15-18
  • Alleviation of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Studies suggest that consuming higher amounts of magnesium, perhaps inconjunction with vitamin B6, helps to alleviate bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain, breast tenderness, and othersymptoms associated with PMS.19

Factors which Affect Magnesium Absorption

  • Fermentable carbohydrates like those found in grains, dairy, and fruit enhance the absorption of magnesium.37
  • Foods with protein enhance the absorption of magnesium and calcium.38
  • Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, or taking supplemental dietary fiber, is likely to hinder magnesium absorption.37
  • Phytates, found in vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts may slightly hinder magnesium absorption, however, the soluble fiber, and fermentable carbohydrates found in these foods likely counteracts this effect, making most plant foods a great source of magnesium.37
  • Foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, leafy greens, nuts, tea, coffee and cacao also reduce magnesium absorption. Cooking reduces oxalic acid, so cooking spinach and other greens is better than eating them raw (in terms of magnesium absorption).35

High Risk Groups for a Magnesium Deficiency

  • Long distance athletes - People who exercise over long distances lose electrolytes via sweat and need to replenish their sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels.
  • Dehydration - People who consume excess alcohol, or suffer diarrhea, or can be otherwise dehydrated need to replenish their sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels.
  • People with Gastrointestinal Disorders - Most magnesium is absorbed through the colon so people with gastrointestinal disorderslike Crohn's disease are at high risk for a magnesium deficiency.19,20
  • People with Poor Functioning Kidneys - The kidneys should be able to regulate magnesium in the blood,excreting less when stores are low, however, excessive loss of magnesium through urine can occur to people on specific medications, poorly managed diabetes, and alcoholics.21-29
  • The Elderly - As we age the amount of magnesium we absorb decreases as the amount we excrete increases.7
  • People Consuming high amounts of Fiber - Eating large amounts of fiber has been shown to interfere with the bodies abilityto use magnesium. However, more research needs to be done to confirm how much fiber affects magnesium.30,31
  • People on a low protein diet (*Controversial) - Eating less than 30 grams of protein a day may adversely affect magnesium utilization.32
  • People taking Certain Medications23,25,33,34,36
    • Proton Pump Inhibitors: Prescription PPIs include Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), Dexilant (dexlansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole sodium), AcipHex (rabeprazole sodium), Vimovo, Prilosec OTC (omeprazole), Zegerid OTC (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), and Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole)36
    • Diuretics: Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin, and hydrochlorothiazide
    • Antibiotics: Gentamicin, and Amphotericin
    • Anti-neoplastic (Cancer) medication: Cisplatin
    • Zinc Supplements

Warnings

  • Nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, and molasses are high calorie foods and should be eaten in moderate amounts by people with a high body mass index.
  • Dark chocolate, spinach, and almonds are high in oxalates which may inhibit some magnesium absorption.35 These foods however, are still good sources of magnesium.
  • Brazil nuts are very high in selenium. Excess selenium can lead to diarrhea, bad breath, and even hair loss.

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Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office Of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet
  3. Appel LJ. Nonpharmacologic therapies that reduce blood pressure: A fresh perspective. Clin Cardiol 1999;22:1111-5.
  4. Simopoulos AP. The nutritional aspects of hypertension. Compr Ther 1999;25:95-100.
  5. Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, Vollmer WM, Svetkey LP, Sacks FM, Bray GA, Vogt TM, Cutler JA, Windhauser MM, Lin PH, Karanja N. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl J Med 1997;336:1117-24.
  6. Saris NE, Mervaala E, Karppanen H, Khawaja JA, Lewenstam A. Magnesium: an update on physiological, clinical, and analytical aspects. Clinica Chimica Acta 2000;294:1-26.
  7. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 1999.
  8. Paolisso G, Sgambato S, Gambardella A, Pizza G, Tesauro P, Varricchio H, D'Onofrio F. Daily magnesium supplements improve glucose handling in elderly subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:1161-7.
  9. Altura BM and Altura BT. Magnesium and cardiovascular biology: An important link between cardiovascular risk factors and atherogenesis. Cell Mol Biol Res 1995;41:347-59.
  10. Ford ES. Serum magnesium and ischaemic heart disease: Findings from a national sample of US adults. Intl J of Epidem 1999;28:645-51.
  11. Liao F, Folsom A, Brancati F. Is low magnesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Am Heart J 1998;136:480-90.
  12. Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Hernan MA, Giovannucci EL, Kawachi I, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Intake of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber and risk of stroke among US men. Circulation 1998;98:1198-204.
  13. Elisaf M, Milionis H, Siamopoulos K. Hypomagnesemic hypokalemia and hypocalcemia: Clinical and laboratory characteristics. Mineral Electrolyte Metab 1997;23:105-12.
  14. Xing JH and Soffer EE. Adverse effects of laxatives. Dis Colon Rectum 2001;44:1201-9.
  15. Mauskop A, Altura BM. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraines. Clin Neurosci. 1998;5(1):24-27.
  16. Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Kohne-Volland R. Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia. 1996;16(4):257-263.
  17. Pfaffenrath V, Wessely P, Meyer C, et al. Magnesium in the prophylaxis of migraine--a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia. 1996;16(6):436-440.
  18. Wang F, Van Den Eeden SK, Ackerson LM, Salk SE, Reince RH, Elin RJ. Oral magnesium oxide prophylaxis of frequent migrainous headache in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Headache. 2003;43(6):601-610.
  19. Bendich A. The potential for dietary supplements to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000;19(1):3-12.
  20. Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency: A cause of heterogeneous disease in humans. J Bone Miner Res 1998;13:749-58.
  21. Rude KR. Magnesium metabolism and deficiency. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 1993;22:377-95.
  22. Kelepouris E and Agus ZS. Hypomagnesemia: Renal magnesium handling. Semin Nephrol 1998;18:58-73.
  23. Ramsay LE, Yeo WW, Jackson PR. Metabolic effects of diuretics. Cardiology 1994;84 Suppl 2:48-56.
  24. Kobrin SM and Goldfarb S. Magnesium Deficiency. Semin Nephrol 1990;10:525-35.
  25. Lajer H and Daugaard G. Cisplatin and hypomagnesemia. Ca Treat Rev 1999;25:47-58.
  26. Tosiello L. Hypomagnesemia and diabetes mellitus. A review of clinical implications. Arch Intern Med 1996;156:1143-8.
  27. Paolisso G, Scheen A, D'Onofrio F, Lefebvre P. Magnesium and glucose homeostasis. Diabetologia 1990;33:511-4.
  28. Elisaf M, Bairaktari E, Kalaitzidis R, Siamopoulos K. Hypomagnesemia in alcoholic patients. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1998;22:244-6.
  29. Abbott L, Nadler J, Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency in alcoholism: Possible contribution to osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in alcoholics. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1994;18:1076-82.
  30. Rude RK, Shils ME. Magnesium. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:223-247.
  31. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Magnesium. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1997:190-249.
  32. Schwartz R, Walker G, Linz MD, MacKellar I. Metabolic responses of adolescent boys to two levels of dietary magnesium and protein. I. Magnesium and nitrogen retention. Am J Clin Nutr. 1973;26(5):510-518.
  33. Shils ME. Magnesium. In Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th Edition. (edited by Shils, ME, Olson, JA, Shike, M, and Ross, AC.) New York: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 1999, p. 169-92.
  34. Spencer H, Norris C, Williams D. Inhibitory effects of zinc on magnesium balance and magnesium absorption in man. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994;13(5):479-484.
  35. Torsten Bohn, Lena Davidsson*, Thomas Walczyk and Richard F. Hurrel Fractional magnesium absorption is signi?cantly lower in human subjects from a meal served with an oxalate-rich vegetable, spinach, as compared with a meal served with kale, a vegetable with a low oxalate content. Laboratory for Human Nutrition, Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland (Received 27 May 2003 - Revised 7 November 2003 - Accepted 28 November 2003
  36. FDA Drug Safety Communication: Low magnesium levels can be associated with long-term use of Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs (PPIs)
  37. Charles Coudray, Christian Demigne, and Yves Rayssiguier. Effects of Dietary Fibers on Magnesium Absorption in Animals and Humans. J. Nutr. January 1, 2003 vol. 133 no. 1 1-4.
  38. R. A. McCance, E. M. Widdowson, and H. Lehmann. The effect of protein intake on the absorption of calcium and magnesium. Biochem J. 1942 September; 36(7-9): 686-691.

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