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Top 12 Plant-Based Magnesium Sources

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral that can easily be obtained from plant foods. While all essential vitamins and minerals are important, magnesium receives special attention as a star player in the nutrition world because it is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions in the body, including energy metabolism, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, nerve signaling, and bone and protein synthesis.1, 2

Getting enough magnesium can also help with stress as it acts as a natural, mild muscle relaxant and sleep aid. Some studies have even linked diets that are rich in magnesium intake with decreased symptoms and risk of depression, heart disease and migraines. 3, 4, 5

How much magnesium do I need?

The amount of magnesium you need will vary, as your body requires increasing amounts as it ages. Adults males should target over 400 mg of magnesium daily, and females over 310 mg daily.

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium 6

Age

Male

Female

Pregnant Female

Lactating Female

Birth to 6 months

30 mg*

30 mg*

7–12 months

75 mg*

75 mg*

1–3 years

80 mg

80 mg

4–8 years

130 mg

130 mg

9–13 years

240 mg

240 mg

14–18 years

410 mg

360 mg

400 mg

360 mg

19–30 years

400 mg

310 mg

350 mg

310 mg

31–50 years

420 mg

320 mg

360 mg

320 mg

51+ years

420 mg

320 mg

What plant foods are high in magnesium?

Getting enough magnesium from your diet can be a delicious experience since magnesium-rich foods include all kinds of nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables -- even dark chocolate! Below is a table outlining 12 magnesium-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet.

Table 2: Magnesium Content of Selected Foods 7,8,9

Food

Serving

Magnesium per Serving in Milligrams

Pumpkin Seeds

1 ounce

76 - 156

Chia Seeds

1 ounce

111

Almonds

1 ounce

80

Brazil Nuts

6 nuts (20 g)

82

Spinach, boiled and drained

½ cup

78

Cashews, dry roasted

1 ounce

74

Swiss Chard, boiled and drained

½ cup

75

Soymilk

1 cup

61

Black beans, cooked

½ cup

60

Peanuts, roasted

¼ cup

63

Dark chocolate (≥60%)

1 ounce

50

Raw cacao powder

1 tablespoon

27

Am I getting enough magnesium?

If you’re eating the standard American diet, you’re likely missing out on several essential nutrients, including magnesium. 10 Studies suggest that up to two thirds of Americans aren’t getting enough of this essential mineral. If you fall into the following groups of people, then you may face an additional risk for magnesium deficiency: (2)

  • People with gastrointestinal issues, including Crohn's, celiac and enteritis.
  • People with type 2 diabetes.
  • People with alcohol dependence. 
  • Older adults.
  • People taking these medications:
    • Bisphosphonates
    • Antibiotics
    • Diuretics
    • Proton pump inhibitors

If you are at risk for or show any of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, depression and weakness, talk to your healthcare provider to get the help you need.



References:

  1. de Baaij, J. H., Hoenderop, J. G., & Bindels, R. J. (2015). Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiological reviews, 95(1), 1–46. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00012.2014
  2. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. March 29, 2021. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  3. Eby, G. A., & Eby, K. L. (2006). Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Medical hypotheses, 67(2), 362–370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2006.01.047
  4. Fang, X., Wang, K., Han, D., He, X., Wei, J., Zhao, L., Imam, M. U., Ping, Z., Li, Y., Xu, Y., Min, J., & Wang, F. (2016). Dietary magnesium intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC medicine, 14(1), 210. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-016-0742-z
  5. Peikert, A., Wilimzig, C., & Köhne-Volland, R. (1996). Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 16(4), 257–263. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1468-2982.1996.1604257.x
  6. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019.
  8. Nutrition Data. Foods highest in Magnesium. Accessed July 28, 2021 from https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000120000000000000000-4.html?.
  9. Cleveland Clinic. Magnesium Rich Food.  November 24, 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food 
  10.  Morgan Griffin, R. Missing Nutrients in Your Food. Nourish by WebMD. Accessed July 28, 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/missing-nutrients-in-your-food#1.
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