Magnesium is a powerhouse mineral that is present in nature and all cells in the human body.
More than half of the magnesium in the body is present in bone, but can also be found in muscle and brain.
While the body makes a great effort to ensure the magnesium in the blood remains within a particular range, it’s possible to have magnesium deficiency, even with a healthy diet.
Here is what you need to know about the health benefits and best food sources of magnesium.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that is actively involved with cell signaling, nerve impulses, muscle relaxation, and maintaining a normal heart rhythm.
This mineral also stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps control calcium levels and prevents the breakdown of bones.
Filling your diet with magnesium-rich foods may help regulate the over 325 enzymes that play an important role in activating thousands of chemical reactions.
5 Evidenced-Health Benefits of Magnesium
There is evidence that reveals the many therapeutic uses for magnesium.
- Alleviates migraines: The American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology gave magnesium a Level B rating, for preventive therapy for migraines.
- Helps control diabetes: A large study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that participants with larger intakes of magnesium where found to have a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Reduces Inflammation: Magnesium has been shown to help fight inflammation. It reduces the inflammatory marker CRP in overweight people and those with diabetes.
- Boost exercise performance: Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactic acid, which can build up in muscles during exercise and cause pain
- Fights against depression: Magnesium plays a critical role in brain function and mood. Supplementing magnesium can decrease depression symptoms in some people.
Despite the widespread availability of magnesium in the diet, the World Health Organization reported that less than 60 percent of adults in the United States are meeting the adequate intake values for magnesium.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) is 400–420 mg per day for men, and 310–320 mg per day for women. This is preferably obtained from food, but can also be from supplementation.
The following sources are excellent sources of magnesium:
- Dark chocolate: 33% of the RDI in 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
- Avocado: 15% of the RDI in one medium avocado (200 grams)
- Nuts: 5% of the RDI in 10 nuts (14 grams)
- Spinach: 39% of the RDI in a cup (180 grams)
- Salmon: 9% of the RDI in 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
- Quinoa: 33% of RDI the in a cup (185 grams)
- Black beans: 30% of the RDI in a cup (172 grams)
Here are a meal and a snack that are high in magnesium. Follow the plate method to learn about portion control.
Salmon with black bean salad
Dark chocolate covered hazelnut
The Bottom Line
The fact is that getting enough magnesium is essential for maintaining good health. Be sure to eat plenty of magnesium-rich food to ensure you are getting enough daily. See a qualified health care provider if you think you might not be getting enough in the diet.