Magnesium is the ultimate multi-tasker. This mineral is essential to all kinds of body processes such as muscle and nerve function as well as heart rate regulation. A cofactor for more than 300 enzyme systems, it plays a role in blood pressure, hormone production, blood glucose management, and energy production, among other things. Magnesium is important to building and maintaining strong bones as well as for efficient workout recovery (and warding off those annoying muscle cramps).
Recommended magnesium intake for most female adults is 310-320 milligrams per day, depending on age, and 400-420 milligrams per day for men. Just keep in mind that if you work out extensively, your needs may be higher.
Magnesium can be found in a wide range of foods. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are all good sources. Here are 15 magnesium-rich foods to include in your diet:
Almonds, 1 ounce - 80 mg (20% daily needs)
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup - 78 mg (20% daily needs)
Cashews, 1 ounce - 74 mg (19% daily needs)
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup - 63 mg (16% daily needs)
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup - 60 mg (15% daily needs)
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup - 50 mg (13% daily needs)
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons - 49 mg (12% daily needs)
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup - 44 mg (11% daily needs)
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces - 43 mg (11% daily needs)
Brown rice, cooked, ½ cup - 42 mg (11% daily needs)
Plain yogurt, low-fat, 8 ounces, 42 mg (11% daily needs)
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup - 35 mg (9% daily needs)
Banana, 1 medium - 32 mg (8% daily needs)
Salmon, cooked, 3 ounces - 26 mg (7% daily needs)
Milk, 1 cup - 24-27 mg (6-7% daily needs)
It’s also common to see magnesium added to various products like cereals and other fortified grain products as well as non-dairy milks. Supplements are also available in capsule and powder form. As with most nutrients, consuming too little and too much can both have negative health effects.
Signs of a magnesium deficiency include low energy, muscle cramps, and changes in heart rate. Signs of too much magnesium include cramping and diarrhea.
As with any vitamin or mineral, it’s important to talk with your doctor before beginning use of a supplement or making drastic dietary changes. Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping others experience a happier, calmer life and a balanced relationship with food. For those in need of some healthy-eating inspiration, Jess created five day's worth of delicious make-ahead lunches to make it even easier to eat well on a busy day. For more information on Jess, check out her website and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
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