Magnesium rich foods are essential for cellular health and over 300 biochemical functions in the body. Unfortunately, around 80% of American’s may have a magnesium deficiency and the majority of them don’t even know it!
The benefits of magnesium are far greater than previously imagined. Because your body requires and uses magnesium for so many different functions, you can quickly become low in magnesium especially if you are not consuming enough high magnesium foods. Some of the major functions that require magnesium are nerve function, blood sugar control, blood pressure regulation, energy metabolism and the production of the antioxidant glutathione.
Magnesium deficiency is dramatically under-diagnosed because it does not show up on a blood test! Only 1% of the magnesium in your body is stored in your blood and the majority of it is stored in your bones.
The Most Common Causes of Magnesium Deficiency Include:
- Consuming less than 3 servings of vegetables per day
- Excess alcohol consumption
- A diet high in sugar and phytic acid
- Taking prescription medications like antibiotics and diuretics
- Poor digestive absorption due to leaky gut
How to Increase Your Magnesium Intake
If you think you might be low in magnesium, your best way to address this issue is to start consuming foods that are high in magnesium. Buying foods from your local farmers market and foods that are certified organic may have higher levels of magnesium. The soil from conventional farms is depleted of magnesium because they do not rotate their crops or let the land rest. Also, they typically only put nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium back in the soil, but leave out magnesium. Typically, the foods you’ll find that are highest in magnesium are green leafy vegetables which are packed with chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is known as the “life blood” of a plant and has the ability to absorb the sun’s light and turn it into energy.
One major difference between human blood and chlorophyll is that human blood has iron at the center of the cell, but plants have magnesium at the center of the cell. That being said, green leafy vegetables aren’t the only foods rich in magnesium and chlorophyll, here are the top 10 foods high in magnesium that you will want to add into your diet.
Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods
(Men RDA 400mg and Women RDA 310mg a day)
#1 Spinach 1 c: 157 mg (40% DV)
#2 Chard 1 c: 154 mg (38% DV)
#3 Pumpkin seeds 1/8 c: 92 mg (23% DV)
#4 Yogurt or Kefir 1 c: 50 mg (13% DV)
#5 Almonds 1 oz: 80 mg (20% DV)
#6 Black Beans ½ c: 60 mg (15% DV)
#7 Avocado 1 medium: 58 mg (15% DV)
#8 Figs ½ c: 50 mg (13% DV)
#9 Dark Chocolate 1 square: 95 mg (24% DV)
#10 Banana 1 medium: 32 mg (8% DV)
Other foods that are also high in magnesium include: salmon, coriander, cashews, goat cheese and artichokes.
Magnesium More Crucial Than Calcium
Most of the press and research over the last 50 years has gone towards calcium supplementation. But if you look at the statistics, supplementing with magnesium is even more important. Eating a ‘traditional diet’ or ‘primal diet’ will give you a pretty close 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. But today most people are consuming the ‘SAD Diet’ (Standard American Diet) and we now have a 3.5:1 ratio, which causes low levels of magnesium. Also, remember this, for you body to utilize calcium you need to have magnesium as a cofactor. So, there are millions of people taking calcium supplements without magnesium, and they have zero improvement to show for it!
Magnesium Benefits Studies and Research
There is also a large amount of medical research on the health benefits of magnesium with well over 10,000 studies. Here are 5 key areas where magnesium has been proven effective.
Cardiovascular Disease – A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which was done on 241,378 participants, found a diet high in magnesium could reduce the risk of a stroke by 8%. Another study found that increasing magnesium through diet decreased the risk of a heart attack by 38%.
Fibromyalgia – A study published in Magnesium Research examined how magnesium may improve outcomes for fibromyalgia. The research indicated that increasing magnesium consumption reduced pain and tenderness and also improved immune blood markers.
Type 2 Diabetes – Diets high in magnesium foods can also significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes because magnesium plays a role in glucose metabolism. An increase of 100 mg/day of magnesium was found to decrease the risk of diabetes by 15% in a meta-analysis of the data.
Osteoporosis – Magnesium is an essential mineral for bone formation and for the utilization in calcium. In fact, more than half of the magnesium in the human body is stored in the bones. A study published in Biology Trace Element Research found that supplementing with magnesium slowed the development of osteoporosis.
Migraine Headaches – Magnesium food deficiency has been linked to migraine headaches because of it’s importance in balancing neurotransmitters in the body. A study published in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics found that taking 300mg 2x of magnesium reduced the frequency of migraine headaches.
If you think you might be more severely magnesium deficient and you want to improve your levels more quickly you may consider taking an all-natural supplement. For additional information you can check out our article on Magnesium Deficiency.
About the Author
Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world.