Magnesium Food Faves: Our Top 8 Picks

Feeling tired and achy all the time? You might need more magnesium.

Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 300 bioreactions in the body. Without magnesium, your heart couldn’t beat, your muscles and nerves would not be able to communicate with each other. That also includes the neurons in the brain. Prioritizing magnesium is a no-brainer!

In this article, we discuss the pros and cons to magnesium supplements, and share some of our favorite food alternatives.

Unlock the power of magnesium to transform your energy levels- not to mention sleep!

To Supplement or Not to Supplement?

When thinking of boosting your magnesium levels, you might be tempted to try a supplement. While nutritionists discourage over supplementation; magnesium may be an exception. Since magnesium is heavily involved in numerous roles, supplementing outweighs the risks of going deficient.

For example, one large-scale study back in 2015 concluded that getting adequate RDA of magnesium may beneficially prevent pancreatic cancer, especially those with insulin resistance. Even being slightly deficient in magnesium can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer by 76%.

 “A high level of magnesium intake (that meet RDA) may be beneficial in terms of primary prevention of pancreatic cancer. Adhering to the RDA for magnesium intake is recommended. To achieve that level, dietary magnesium intake alone may not be sufficient. Magnesium supplementation may help achieve the RDA for magnesium, especially for those who may have an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer, such as those with family history of pancreatic cancer or diabetes mellitus.”

Dibaba, D., Xun, P., Yokota, K. et al. Magnesium intake and incidence of pancreatic cancer: the VITamins and Lifestyle study

How much magnesium should I get every day?

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Magnesium

  • Men aged 19-30 years: 400 mg per day
  • Men aged 31 years and older: 420 mg per day
  • Women aged 19-30 years: 310 mg per day
  • Women aged 31 years and older: 320 mg per day

Your RDA of magnesium will be higher if you regularly do strenuous work or exercise, as magnesium is loss through sweat and required for proper muscle contraction.

Low serum-magnesium levels are also associated with hypertension, metabolic diseases including type-II diabetes. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to the development of type-II diabetes and weaken kidney function. Increasing your daily intake of magnesium can help reverse such conditions.

Who Should Not Take Magnesium Supplements?

People should avoid magnesium supplements who have a history of kidney disease, heart block, bowel obstruction or myasthenia gravis– a chronic condition that affects muscle function.

If you don’t fall into these categories, it might be worth considering a high-quality magnesium supplement. We prefer magnesium spray directly on the feet before bed, an easier way to get magnesium and bypass extra strain on the liver with pills or tablets.

NOW Solutions Magnesium Spray
$8.07

Pure, high-quality Zechstein magnesium chloride. Non-greasy formula great to promote good night rest. Natural alternative to deodorant.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Magnesium Rich Food Faves

Now you have a better understanding of how important magnesium is, now let’s discover more magnesium rich foods into your diet. Getting your nutrients from real food is always ideal, because they are naturally occurring, alongside other micronutrients and enzymes. Food-form is more complementary way to absorb nutrients than isolated vitamin or minerals. There are all sorts of delicious natural foods that are good sources of magnesium.

Here are our favorite ways to incorporate magnesium into your diet.

#1-Avocado

Ah, the avocado. Nature’s perfect fruit. The one fruit tree you’d want to see if ever stranded on an island. Not only is avocado a healthy fat, but also a pre-biotic fiber. Avocados come with over 22 vitamins and minerals, including magnesium! Whether on a salad or smeared on toast, we’re all for avocado. For this reason, avocado starts off our list.

Avocados used to get a bad rap. If you remember the 90’s, low-fat diets were had a strangle-hold on society. Research has shown that not all fats are created equal, and avocados are one of the good guys. Contrary to their previous reputation, consuming avocados can help with weight management. Avocados are incredibly nutrient dense, packed with healthy fat and fiber that help you stay full. Their healthy fats and vitamin profile are also a delicious way to maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails.

One medium avocado provides around 60 grams of magnesium.

#2-Black Beans

We prefer black beans because of how flavorful and versatile they are. A half cup of black beans contains 60 mg of magnesium. Black beans are a nutritional powerhouse beyond magnesium, they are a great plant-based protein and rich in soluble fiber. In addition to magnesium, black bean offers iron, manganese, copper, and folate.

If you don’t have time to prepare beans from scratch, I highly recommend Eden Organics line of canned beans, not only are they organic but are pressurized cook to reduce lectins (a plant coating that can be a gut irritant). If you can’t find them at your local store, you can find them on Amazon here: Eden Organics Black Beans (as an Amazon affiliate, I do receive a small commission from products purchased through such links, at no cost to you.)

Other beans and legumes containing magnesium: edamame (1/2 cup cooked= 50 mgs), lima beans (1/2 cup cooked= 40 mgs), or lentils (1/2 cup cooked= 40 mgs of magnesium).

Wanna find ways to incorporate more black beans in your diet? We have the best black bean soup recipe here.

#3-Quinoa

We pick quinoa over other grains because it is naturally gluten-free. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contain all the essential amino acids. Other grains often need to be combined with beans or other ingredients to make a complete protein, but not quinoa. One cup of quinoa provides 28% of your RDA of magnesium. On top of that, quinoa provides essential trace minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and copper. Quinoa can be used in various ways, ranging from sweet to savory. It makes a fabulous gluten-free alternative to couscous or tabouleh.

Other grain rich in magnesium include: Buckwheat (1 cup cooked= 20% RDA), amaranth (1 cup cooked= 38% RDA), or brown rice (1 cup cooked= 18% RDA).

#4-Bananas

Bananas much more than a sugary fruit. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as gut friendly fiber. Bananas are mostly known for potassium, but they have much more in the mineral department. Even more than magnesium! Here is a simple breakdown to help you get a better picture.

One medium sized banana contains:

  • Manganese: 51% of the daily value (DV)
  • Copper: 39% DV
  • Magnesium: 28% DV
  • Phosphorus: 22% DV
  • Folate: 19% DV
  • Zinc: 18% DV
  • Iron: 15% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 13% DV
  • Vitamin E: 8% DV
  • Potassium: 7% DV

Far more than you’d expect, eh?

#5-Dark Chocolate

We’ll take any tip that encourages us to eat more chocolate!

Dark chocolate is the most decadent way to get your magnesium, and other minerals including iron, copper, and manganese. Dark chocolate surprisingly has a lot of fiber and contains polyphenol antioxidants that improve heart function. Dark chocolate has also been known to help protect the skin from sun damage.

Aim for 70%-85% cocoa to really reap dark chocolate’s benefits. The milk in milk chocolate impacts some of the benefits found in cocoa.

Recent research conducted in 2022 has shown that dark chocolate can improve cognitive function and gray matter volume in the brain. Their study also noted dark chocolate reduced both mental and physical fatigue in healthy middle-aged adults. The study mainly focused on dark chocolate’s flavonoids, but magnesium also plays a part as being integral for neural communication.

 “Our results suggest that dark chocolate may help reduce fatigue in individuals, leading to improvements in brain health and various cognitive functions as well as in quality of life.”

Kiyotaka Nemoto et al.

Maybe that’s why chocolate makes you feel so good?

Not all dark chocolate is created equal. Recently Consumer Reports investigated major dark chocolate brands, and found alarming levels of lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals. Some brands where only a small amount would put an adult well above the recommended limits on heavy metal exposure. You can read their full report here.

Our mainstream dark chocolate pick? Ghirardelli 86% Intense Dark Chocolate

#6-Spinach

Spinach is not only a rich source of magnesium, but Vitamin A, C, and Vitamin K1- essential for maintaining strong bones. Cooking spinach increases the magnesium content and bioavailability of nutrients by breaking down the plant fiber structure. One cup of raw spinach will provide 6% of your daily value of magnesium, but a half cup of cooked spinach will up it to 21%!

With recent recalls on fresh spinach due to poor farming practices, steaming and cooking spinach is our preferred way of reaping the benefits of this superfood. Ideally if you were to eat raw spinach, aim for organic options and thoroughly wash your greens before consuming.

Additional leafy green rich in magnesium: Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked= 36% DV), beet greens (1 cup cooked= 23% DV), and kale (1 cup cooked= 18% DV)

Related Reading: Summer Strawberry Salad

#7-Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, is a nutrient dense snack to be enjoyed year-round. Rich in heart healthy fats and dietary fiber, pumpkins seeds are a good source of magnesium, zinc, and inflammation reducing antioxidants called flavonoids. Pumpkin seeds are also used to expel parasites out of the body.

One ounce of pumpkin seeds provides a hearty 150 mg of magnesium. Try them on top of salads, yogurt, or by themselves as a healthy snack between meals.

Other nuts & seeds containing magnesium are: Chia seeds (1 oz= 111 mgs), Brazil nuts (1 oz= 107 mgs), and roasted almonds (1 oz= 80 mgs).

#8-Conch

Conch is such underrated seafood. That’s why we saved it for last. One cup of cooked conch contains over 30 grams of protein, and a whopping 72% of your daily requirement of magnesium! We picked conch as our top pick because it’s also an excellent lean protein, and omega 3 fatty acids. Conch also provides essential minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, selenium, zinc, on top of magnesium. Most importantly, conch is one of best seafood options with the lowest levels of mercury.

Instead of frying conch into fritters and lose all those healthy omega-3s, why not try conch tacos instead? They taste incredible sauteed in ghee and topped with our spicy mango salsa.

Other good seafood sources of magnesium include: Atlantic mackerel (6 oz= 39% DV), bluefin tuna (6oz= 26% DV), and scallops (1 cup= 20% DV).

Recommended Reading: Magnesium: The Remarkable Mineral

For the Love of Food

Guide to Magnesium

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