Top 10 Foods Highest in Magnesium + Printable One Page Sheet
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, whole grains, fish, nuts, dark chocolate, yogurt, avocados, bananas and more. The current daily value (DV) for magnesium is 400mg.
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
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
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