The following foods high in magnesium are nutrient-dense and essential for meeting your daily magnesium requirements. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common due to people eating diets full of refined carbohydrates that are magnesium deficient. It also strips this vital mineral from the body as it is required to metabolize the glucose found in carbohydrates.
The following list of the top high-magnesium foods was formulated using nutritiondata.self.com and is based on a 100-gram serving:
Best foods high in magnesium
- Crude rice bran: 781 mg
- Dried agar seaweed: 770 mg
- Crude wheat bran: 611 mg
- Pumpkin seeds: 535 mg
- Cocoa powder: 499 mg
- Soy flour: 429 mg
- Flaxseeds: 392 mg
- Brazil nuts: 376 mg
- Peanut butter: 370 mg
- Sesame Seeds: 356 mg
- Almond butter: 303 mg
- Almonds: 303 mg
- Cashew nuts: 292 mg
- Soybeans: 280 mg
- Pine nuts: 251 mg
- Amaranth: 248 mg
- Wheat germ: 236 mg
- Buckwheat: 231 mg
- Lima Beans: 224 mg
- Walnuts: 201 mg
- Quinoa: 197 mg
- Broadbeans: 192 mg
- White Beans: 190 mg
- Mung Beans: 189 mg
- Peppers: 188 mg
- Peanuts: 188 mg
- Carrot: 188 mg
- Black-eyed peas: 184 mg
- Tofu: 181 mg
- Oats: 177 mg
- Pinto Beans: 176 mg
- Hazelnuts: 173 mg
- Black beans: 171 mg
- Radishes: 170 mg
- Shitake mushrooms: 132 mg
- Bananas: 108 mg
- Leeks: 101 mg
- Prickly pears: 92 mg
- Kale: 88 mg
- Spinach: 87 mg
- Swiss chard: 86 mg
- Beet greens: 70 mg
- Dried figs: 68 mg
- Artichokes: 60 mg
These foods are some of the best sources of magnesium; daily intake from sources such as these is essential to maintain optimal magnesium levels in the body. Daily RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for normal healthy adults is 400-420 mg for men and 310-320 mg for women. However, many people deficient in this critical mineral will require higher levels to maintain and restore intracellular magnesium levels, looking more like 400-600 mg/day.
If you eat a plant-based diet and are looking for vegan food high in magnesium, the good news is you’ll notice that most magnesium food sources are naturally vegan! Although animal products do contain magnesium, they deliver much lower concentrations. The following are a few examples for comparison purposes:
- Cooked lean chicken breast, 32 mg of magnesium per 100-gram serving.
- Fatty fish such as cooked sockeye salmon, 36 mg of magnesium per 100-gram serving.
- Canned sardines, 39 mg of magnesium per 100-gram serving.
- Boiled eggs, 10 mg of magnesium per 100-gram serving.
Compare those nutrient facts with the first list of high magnesium foods, and you will see the best sources of this critical mineral are in the plant kingdom! Dark leafy greens such as spinach, swiss chard, or collard greens are a simple way to sneak extra magnesium sources and dietary fiber into salads, stir-fries, soups, lasagnas, or wraps. You can add them to many dishes, and when cooked down, you can pack a generous amount.
Benefits of supplementing magnesium
Magnesium has so many benefits and functions in the body; many people will also have to use dietary supplements to restore optimal magnesium levels in the body.
Supplementing magnesium is also excellent for weight loss and insulin resistance; it is a crucial mineral for glucose metabolism and has over 600 essential functions, including DNA replication and protein synthesis.
A magnesium deficiency is an underlying cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eating vegan sources of magnesium and a diet low in saturated fats can help people lose weight and reverse insulin resistance, as magnesium is also needed for insulin secretion. Magnesium deficiency results in impaired insulin secretion.
Your body requires 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize one molecule of glucose (sugar), making it essential for those struggling with blood sugar control. A whopping 56 molecules of magnesium are needed to metabolize one molecule of fructose; this makes you realize that sugar stresses the body and depletes magnesium fast!
Magnesium deficiency massively impacts overall health as it assists in hundreds of reactions within the body. When you are under stress, you have a higher risk of magnesium deficiency and low magnesium levels exacerbate stress. Talk about a vicious cycle!
Magnesium is crucial for producing energy in the body; it is required by ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecule that stores and delivers energy at a cellular level. It is vital for almost all metabolic processes and an essential nutrient to ensure you are getting in your daily diet.
Types of magnesium
Magnesium supplementation is highly recommended if you cannot achieve optimal levels from magnesium food sources alone. It comes in many forms, which can leave the consumer feeling overwhelmed. The following is a list of the forms available:
- magnesium citrate
- magnesium lysinate
- magnesium glycinate
- magnesium lactate
- magnesium malate
- magnesium taurate
- magnesium sulfate
- magnesium oxide
- magnesium chloride
- magnesium l-threonate
Optimal magnesium by Seeking Health is a highly absorbable oral form using lysinate, glycinate, and malate forms of magnesium for optimal bioavailability.
I also use magnesium oil topically on the skin, especially when I notice tight muscles. There are so many demands for magnesium in the body that tight muscles are not always the priority, so I take a magnesium supplement orally and use magnesium oil topically.
The following is a simple breakdown of the primary available magnesium sources:
Magnesium citrate is the most common form you’ll find, and along with magnesium oxide, it is not absorbed all that well by the intestinal tract. It also has a greater tendency towards causing diarrhea as it is often used as a stool softener. Rather than treating symptoms of magnesium deficiency, it is more commonly used to mitigate troublesome digestive issues such as heartburn or indigestion.
At first glance, magnesium oxide would look to be a good option because it is high in elemental magnesium. Still, it has poor solubility and is the least bio-available form. A study was conducted using 15 magnesium supplements and confirmed that magnesium oxide had the lowest bioavailability of the bunch.
Magnesium taurate is a magnesium molecule bound to the amino acid taurine. It has benefits in regards to cardiovascular health and lowering blood sugar levels.
Magnesium lactate is the salt formed when magnesium is bound to lactic acid. It is shown to be better tolerated at high doses and gentler on the digestive tract. So it may be beneficial if you require high magnesium doses but get digestive discomfort from other types. This form is also often used as a food additive.
Magnesium malate is magnesium and malic acid. It is a great source of magnesium to help raise levels as it is easily absorbed and has shown less of a tendency to cause a laxative effect.
Topical forms available include magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride. Magnesium sulfate is the combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen; this is the form we see as the Epsom salts we all enjoy in our baths for muscle aches and relaxation. Magnesium chloride is also available in oral form and is fairly easily absorbed.
Magnesium l-threonate is the salt formed when magnesium binds with threonic acid. This form is easily absorbed and is best at improving magnesium concentrations in the brain. This could have promising effects on medical conditions such as depression and dementia.
Magnesium glycinate is the combination of magnesium and the amino acid glycine. This form is easily absorbed; research suggests it is beneficial for mild anxiety and improves sleep quality.
Magnesium lysinate is less likely to cause gastrointestinal issues or loose stools and is well absorbed by the body.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiencies
If you are not supplementing with magnesium, it is a good idea to check your magnesium levels as it is a common deficiency and can often go undiagnosed. The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are broad, and health problems include:
- Muscle contractions/cramps
- Reduced brain function
- Cardiovascular disease
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Restless leg syndrome
- Poor appetite
- Nausea/loss of appetite
- Weakness / Fatigue
- Muscle spasms
- Personality changes such as; depression, apathy, or delirium
Interestingly, some experts agree that testing for magnesium deficiency in the blood isn’t the most reliable testing method. About 60 % of magnesium is stored in the bone, 20 % in the skeletal muscle, 19 % in other small tissue, and less than 1% in extracellular fluid.
When the human body is under stress, it can send magnesium into your blood, causing a false reading. It is wise to request multiple methods; urine samples and testing RBC (red blood cell) magnesium levels will give a more accurate reading than the serum test. When you have a decrease in serum magnesium levels, your body will pull magnesium from red blood cells to stabilize serum levels.
Many spices are also high in magnesium; using the following herbs in your foods is a great way to increase your daily magnesium intake.
- Dried cilantro: 694 mg
- Celery seed: 440 mg
- Ground sage: 428 mg
- Dried Basil: 428 mg
- Fennel seed: 385 mg
- Ground savory: 377 mg
- Dried parsley: 372 mg
- Tarragon: 347 mg
- Dried marjoram: 346 mg
- Dried oregano: 270 mg
- Ground cloves: 264 mg
- Caraway seed: 258 mg
- Dillseed: 256 mg
- Cardamon: 229 mg
- Thyme: 220 mg
- Black pepper: 194 mg
If you are looking for fun ways to incorporate this popular nutrient into your diet, all of the recipes below contain good sources of magnesium foods:
The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes Patients
Predicting and Testing Bioavailability of Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium, Sugar and Your Health
Magnesium Glycinate Supplementation in Bariatric Surgery Patients and Physically Fit Young Adults
Magnesium Metabolism and its Disorders
Magnesium lactate in the treatment of Gitelman syndrome: patient-reported outcomes
Magnesium and glucose metabolism
Magnesium L-Threonate for the Enhancement of Learning and Memory in People With Dementia
New paradigms for treatment-resistant depression
The sleep-promoting and hypothermic effects of glycine are mediated by NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus