The significance of Magnesium in your diet
Magnesium is a vital mineral involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and is crucial for the proper functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and muscles. It also regulates blood sugar, supports the immune system, and contributes to bone health.
However, many people fail to consume sufficient magnesium in their diet. As a GP in the NHS, I have observed that this is often due to a lack of awareness regarding magnesium’s importance and dietary sources. This article will provide information on easily accessible magnesium-rich foods.
How much magnesium is necessary per day?
First of all, before we talk about foods, it is noteworthy how much magnesium we should consume for the efficient functioning of our bodily organs.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults
- For Men -400-420 mg daily
- For Women -310-320 mg daily
- Pregnancy -350-360 mg daily
- Lactation, -310-320 mg daily
The RDAs include magnesium from all sources—food, beverages, dietary supplements, and medications.
Let’s have a look at how we could obtain that necessary amount simply from the diet!
Leafy Green: A Magnesium Powerhouse
Leafy greens are some of the most magnesium rich foods available. Examples of leafy greens that are high in magnesium include spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and beet greens.
A bowl of cooked green is nearly 40% of RDA
For instance, one cup (30 grams) of cooked spinach contains about 157 mg of magnesium, which is around 40% of the recommended daily intake for adults. Similarly, one cup (36 grams) of cooked Swiss chard contains approximately 150 mg of magnesium, which is about 36% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Fish and Seafood: A Nutritious Way to Get Magnesium
Fish and seafood are also excellent sources of magnesium. Some examples of magnesium-rich fish include salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna, and cod.
How much and which fish should I consume?
A serving of 100 grams of cooked salmon contains about 30 mg of magnesium, which is around 7% of the recommended daily intake for adults. Similarly, an 85 gram-serving of cooked halibut contains approximately 24 mg of magnesium, which is about 6% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Beware of mercury
That being said, it is important to note that some types of fish can contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to health if consumed in large amounts. Therefore, it is recommended to choose low-mercury fish and seafood options and to consume fish in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Nuts and Seeds: A Handy small amount can give you enough magnesium
They are one of the most magnesium rich foods. Being able to have snacks or handy foods during TV or tea time, they can conveniently provide enough magnesium for your body.
Impressively rich in magnesium
The following is the amount of magnesium contained in a 100 g serving of some magnesium-rich nuts and seeds;
Brazil nuts -350 mg
Cashews -250 mg
Peanuts -160 mg
Walnuts -150 mg
Hazelnuts -160 mg
Almond -260 mg
Pumpkin Seeds -525 mg
Sesame seeds -340 mg
Chia seeds -335 mg
Too many seeds and nuts bring health hazards
It is important to note that nuts and seeds are also high in calories, so it is important to consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Prone to cause Stones
Moreover, some nuts and seeds (eg, almonds, brazil nuts, etc.) may be high in oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stones in some people. Therefore, individuals with a history of kidney stones may want to limit their intake of high-oxalate nuts and seeds.
Whole Grains: A Fiber and Magnesium Boost
Although refined grains seem more palatable and more convenient, whole grains do bring secret benefits and a rich source of magnesium is one of them. Magnesium-rich whole grains include brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal.
For instance, one cup (195 grams) of cooked brown rice contains about 84 mg of magnesium, which is around 20% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Appealing extra benefits
Whole grains are also rich in other important nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. These nutrients offer numerous health benefits, including improving digestion, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and promoting satiety and weight management.
All that is necessary is just a simple change
It is recommended to choose whole grains over refined grains whenever possible, as whole grains retain their natural nutrients and offer more health benefits. Incorporating whole grains into your diet can be as simple as swapping white bread for whole wheat bread, or choosing brown rice instead of white rice.
Dairy Products: Calcium and Magnesium Together
Although not as rich in magnesium as the food mentioned earlier, they should be consumed as good sources of both calcium and magnesium. Since magnesium is important in vitamin D synthesis and calcium absorption, the consumption of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, or cheese can have bidirectional effects on calcium metabolism.
Beware of Milk allergy
In some people with a dairy allergy or intolerance who have to limit their dairy intake, it is advisable that alternative sources of magnesium-rich diet should be consumed.
Other sources of Magnesium
In addition to the food sources mentioned above, there are several other sources of magnesium that can be incorporated into our daily diet:
Dark chocolate is a delicious source of magnesium. One serving (30 grams) of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa solids contains approximately 64 mg of magnesium, which is about 15% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit that is also a rich source of magnesium. One medium-sized avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium, which is around 14% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Black beans, chickpeas, and lentils contain a considerable amount of magnesium. For instance, one cup of cooked black beans contains about 120 mg of magnesium, which is around 29% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
They are a good source of magnesium and other nutrients. One cup of cooked soybeans contains about 148 mg of magnesium, which is around 35% of the recommended daily intake for adults
Tofu is a good plant-based source of magnesium. One-half cup (126 grams) of firm tofu contains about 37 mg of magnesium, which is around 9% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
When do I need to take magnesium supplements?
Elderly or Chronic Medical Conditions
As long as you are able to consume the mentioned food sources, you are not likely necessary to take magnesium tablets. However, elderly frail people or those with chronic medical conditions like chronic kidney disease should be given magnesium supplements since they cannot obtain the required amount from the diet alone or they can easily lose magnesium in their urine.
Symptomatic or Low blood or urine magnesium level
Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue and weakness, shaking, pins and needles, muscle spasms, and hyperexcitability. Although those symptoms alone do not solely point towards magnesium deficiency, your doctor might obtain a magnesium level from your blood or urine sample so that you could take magnesium supplements if blood magnesium is lower than the normal limit.
Health Risks from Excessive Magnesium
Too much magnesium from food does not normally pose a harmful health problem to your body since people with normal kidney function can eliminate excess magnesium efficiently in the urine.
To make it clearer, people with immature or impaired kidney function are at a risk of magnesium toxicity when consumed in enormously large amounts, especially in the form of supplements.
When the magnesium level in the body becomes too high, it might lead to diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramps.
Having enough knowledge and being aware of which foods are rich in magnesium as well as the importance and significance of that metallic element for our body might help us incorporate magnesium-rich food into our daily diet which does have a great impact on the well-being of our heart, brain, nerves, and muscles.