Magnesium-rich foods are essential for cellular health and over 300 biochemical functions in the body. Unfortunately, around 80 percent of American’s may have a magnesium deficiency, and the majority of them don’t even know it!
A study published in BMC Bioinformatics found that your body has 3,751 magnesium binding sites. This indicates that magnesium benefits 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:
- Protein synthesis
- Nerve function
- Blood sugar control
- Neurotransmitter release
- Blood pressure regulation
- Energy metabolism
- Production of the antioxidant glutathione
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium-Rich Foods?
Magnesium deficiency is dramatically under-diagnosed because it doesn’t show up on a blood test! Only 1 percent of the magnesium in your body is stored in your blood, and the majority of it’s stored in your bones.
Some of the main health challenges that have been linked to a magnesium deficiency include:
- Hormone imbalance and PMS
- Heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes
- Tension or migraine headaches
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic fatigue
As you can see, increasing your intake of high magnesium foods is essential to your health.
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 grown organically may have higher levels of magnesium. The soil from conventional farms is depleted of magnesium because they don’t 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.
Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods
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.
(Men RDA 400 milligrams and Women RDA 310 milligrams a day)
- Spinach — 1 cup: 157 milligrams (40% DV)
- Chard — 1 cup: 154 milligrams (38% DV)
- Pumpkin seeds — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrams (23% DV)
- Yogurt or Kefir — 1 cup: 50 milligrams (13% DV)
- Almonds — 1 ounce: 80 milligrams (20% DV)
- Black Beans — ½ cup: 60 milligrams (15% DV)
- Avocado — 1 medium: 58 milligrams (15% DV)
- Figs — ½ cup: 50 milligrams (13% DV)
- Dark Chocolate — 1 square: 95 milligrams (24% DV)
- Banana — 1 medium: 32 milligrams (8% DV)
Other foods that are also high in magnesium include: salmon, coriander, cashews, goat cheese and artichokes.
The Most Common Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Most common causes of magnesium deficiency include:
- Consuming less than three 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
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 five 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 percent. Another study found that increasing magnesium through diet decreased the risk of a heart attack by 38 percent.
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 milligrams a day of magnesium was found to decrease the risk of diabetes by 15 percent 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 its importance in balancing neurotransmitters in the body. A study published in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics found that taking 300 milligrams of magnesium twice a day reduced the frequency of migraine headaches.
Best Magnesium Supplements
If you think you might be more severely magnesium deficient and want to improve your levels more quickly, you may consider taking a magnesium supplement.
For supplementation, I recommended taking either magnesium chelate, magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate or magnesium threonate.
Also, using magnesium oil is an excellent option to naturally increase magnesium levels. Putting magnesium oil topically on the skin can lead to faster levels of absorption. You can rub magnesium oil on your feet before bed and is great for improving insomnia, twitching or restless leg syndrome.
If you want to learn more about how to overcome low magnesium levels, check out this article on magnesium deficiency.
“Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods Plus Proven Benefits” Sources:
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- Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:362-6.
- J Eisinger, A Plantamura, P A Marie, T Ayavou. Selenium and magnesium status in fibromyalgia. Magnes Res. 1994 Dec;7(3-4):285-8.
- Larsson SC, Wolk A. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. J Intern Med 2007;262:208-14.
- Aydin H, Deyneli O, Yavuz D, Gözü H, Mutlu N, Kaygusuz I, Akalin S. Short-term oral magnesium supplementation suppresses bone turnover in postmenopausal osteoporotic women. Biol Trace Elem Res 2010;133:136-43.
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