Your body needs magnesium for a host of reasons, many of them critical to your health. So what do you do if you aren’t getting enough with your current diet? If you’re trying to increase your intake of magnesium naturally through your food and drink, there are plenty of delicious magnesium-rich foods to choose from. And we promise, you won’t be strapped for choice.
Recommended daily intake of magnesium
- 19–30-year-old men: 400 mg
- 19–30-year-old women: 310 mg
- Men over 31 years: 420 mg
- Women over 31 years: 320 mg
- Pregnant women: 350–400 mg1
Wondering why magnesium is important for the body? For starters, it plays a part in as many as 300 different biochemical reactions in the body. And that’s not all! It’s also vital for normal nerve and muscle function, immune system health, and bone strength. In addition, it also helps your body produce energy. Plus, magnesium may prevent and manage diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.2
The typical adult has about 25 gm of magnesium stored in their bones and soft tissues and a small amount in the blood. The levels of magnesium are kept in balance by excreting excess via the urine – about 120 mg a day on average.
Here’s a list of some of the best sources of magnesium. The daily value (DV) or daily target intake of magnesium assumed here is 400 mg for adults and the percentage (%) lets you know how much of your daily value you will meet from the indicated typical serving size or portion size of the food.
1. Nuts Like Almonds And Cashews
A handful of nuts meets 20% DV.
Nuts are great for adding crunch to salads or nuttiness to milkshakes and smoothies. They’re also a great source of magnesium – 100 gm of almonds contain around 279 mg of the mineral and 100 gm of cashews has 260 mg of magnesium.3 4 Which means an ounce (28 gm) of almonds dry-roasted would meet 20% DV with 80 mg of magnesium. A similar portion of dry-roasted cashews would get you almost the same percentage of DV (19%) with 74 mg of the nutrient in the serving.5 You can add both kinds of nuts to stews and casseroles to thicken them up and amp up the goodness. Or just munch on some plain with a drizzle of honey or some spices.
2. Leafy Greens Like Spinach And Swiss Chard
Half a cup of boiled spinach meets 20% DV.
When you have your eye on magnesium, it may be time to surrender to the goodness of green leafy vegetables like spinach, swiss chard, or even beet greens! Just half a cup (90 gm) of boiled spinach has around 79 mg of magnesium and delivers 20% of your DV.6 Cooked Swiss chard has 75 mg of magnesium (19% DV) in half a cup (88 gm) and cooked beet greens have 49 mg (12% DV) in that portion size.7 8 Even if you dislike greens, you may find them quite tasty in Asian style stir-fries or curries and soups. You can even blend them into a smoothie with other fruits and vegetables.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Half a cup of pumpkin seeds meets 18% DV.
If you enjoy a little crunch in your food, you’ll like this magnesium source. Pumpkin seeds are fun to munch on plain roasted. They even work beautifully in pesto, mole sauces, and guacamole. One ounce (28 gm) of these seeds roasted has about 74 mg of magnesium – that’s 18% of your DV.9 If you choose to eat the shelled version of the seeds, the magnesium content is even higher, with one ounce offering up 156 mg of magnesium. That meets 39% of your DV! 10 So even if you put a couple of teaspoons on your cereal or into your rice or quinoa at mealtimes, you should be able to boost that magnesium intake quite a bit.
4. Soy Milk
A cup of unfortified soy milk meets 15% DV.
For vegans or anyone who avoids dairy, there’s some good news. Soy milk, possibly a staple in your pantry, is a good source of magnesium. Since it is ready-to-use, it works out quick and easy for anyone who doesn’t have the time to cook up recipes that incorporate magnesium-rich foods. A cup (243 gm) of plain unfortified soy milk has about 15% DV of magnesium – that’s around 61 mg of the mineral.11
Simply drink up that soy milk plain, pour it over your cereal or oatmeal, or blend it into a shake with some fruit. You could even have some fun and incorporate soy milk into desserts like a rice or quinoa pudding.
5. Black Beans
Half a cup of cooked black beans meets 15% DV.
Black beans taste delicious in Central and South American style soups and stews. They also make salads and tacos more filling or chili more hearty. Explore this wonderful vegetable protein option that also doubles up as a great source of magnesium. Half a cup (86 gm) of cooked black beans has 60 mg of magnesium, so that should give you 15% DV of the nutrient.12
6. Peanuts And Peanut Butter
2 tbsp peanut butter meets 13.5% DV.
Slather some peanut butter on a toast or between two slices of bread with your favorite jam/jelly – how’s that for a magnesium fix! Just two tablespoons (32 gm) of peanut butter offer you 54 mg of magnesium, the equivalent of 13.5% DV of the mineral.13 You can even use it to toss together a peanut-flavored salad dressing or a satay sauce. It’s also wonderful in homemade cookies, cakes, and desserts.
If you’d rather just eat some plain roasted peanuts, you can meet 16% DV or 63 mg from a quarter cup (36 gm) portion.14 The nuts work well in Asian stir-fry dishes and fresh Thai or Vietnamese salads.
7. Whole Wheat Bread
2 slices of whole wheat bread meet 12% DV.
If a couple of slices of whole wheat bread are your breakfast staple, you are in luck. On average, 2 slices should contain around 48 mg of magnesium, offering you 12% DV.15 Got plenty leftover? Use wholewheat bread to create oven-roasted croutons to add crunch to salads or soups. Whizz them up into breadcrumbs to coat meats, fish, homemade nuggets, and schnitzels. You could even make a warming bread pudding with that leftover bread.
1 cup of cubed avocado meets 11% of your DV.
The vibrant creamy green avocado has 44 mg of magnesium in a cup (150 gm) of the cubed fruit. That’s 11% DV.16 Slap some avocado on toast with a poached egg or just some freshly sliced tomato. Or smash some up with a twist of lime and paprika as a fresh alternative to mashed potato as a side with your chicken. And you’ll have increased your magnesium intake just like that!
9. Baked Potatoes
100 gm of baked potatoes meets 11% of your DV.
Baked potatoes are easily prepared and can work nicely as a heavy snack or even a fun lunch or dinner. Eaten with the skin on, this is an excellent way to include magnesium in your diet. Every 100 gm of baked potatoes has 43 mg of magnesium, which is the equivalent of 11% DV.17 To make it a more filling meal, fill your baked potato with a meat sauce, shredded chicken, beans, cheese, salsa, or even a salad. Whatever you pick, it will be a real treat for the palate.
10. Brown Rice
Half a cup of cooked brown rice meets 11% of your DV.
Half a cup (98 gm) of cooked brown rice contains 43 mg of magnesium (11% DV), making it a smart choice over white rice that has just 12 mg in the same portion size.18 19 The same amount of wild rice (if you prefer its taste) contains around 10% of your daily value.20 These varieties of rice have a gorgeous nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture that’s a delight for the senses in salads or pilafs.
1 cup of yogurt meets 10% of your DV.
If you enjoy your yogurt, this will come as good news. An 8 ounce (227 gm) container of the plain low-fat kind has 39 mg of magnesium(10% DV).21 Yogurt can, of course, be eaten plain, but it tastes even better with a scattering of granola or some juicy berries. Stir in a fruit puree or add some honey and nuts to your serving of yogurt for a yummy, healthy substitute for rich desserts. If you like your food savory, how about making a healthy yogurt dip to go with crudites? You could even trade out mayonnaise with some wholesome yogurt in a salad dressing.
12. Cereals Like Shredded Wheat And Oatmeal
A packet (28 gm) of oatmeal meets 9% of your DV.
Start your day on the right note with magnesium-rich foods like shredded wheat cereal or some oatmeal. The former has around 61 mg of magnesium (15% DV) in 2 large biscuits (47 gm in all) while the latter has 36 mg (9% DV) in 1 packet of 28 gm.22 23 Adding some nuts like almonds or cashews to your serving of cereal can rev up that magnesium content.
Half a cup of edamame meets 13% of your DV.
Initially a rage in some countries like Japan, edamame now has a following the world over. And they aren’t too hard to prepare. Steam these beans or roast them in the oven with some olive oil. You can even make burgers or a risotto with these beans. The options are endless! Apart from its delicate and unique flavor, edamame contains nearly 50 mg of magnesium per half cup (78 gm) of cooked, shelled beans. That’s 13% of your DV for the nutrient right there.24
Now that you have a list that can help give you a head start to increase your magnesium intake, go ahead and make that grocery list! Have fun with it – experiment with new recipes and go back to some of your old favorites that contain some of these ingredients. You will find that boosting your intake of the nutrient is easier than you thought!
|↑1, ↑5||Magnesium. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑2||Magnesium in diet. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||[Nuts, almonds, dry roasted, without salt added. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑4||Nuts, cashew nuts, dry roasted, without salt added. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑6||Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑7||Chard, swiss, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑8||Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑9||Seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, whole, roasted, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑10||Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Soymilk, original and vanilla, unfortified. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑12||Beans, black, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Peanut butter, smooth style, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Peanuts, all types, oil-roasted, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑15||Bread, whole-wheat, commercially prepared. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Potatoes, baked, skin, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑18||Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑19||Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, unenriched. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑20||Lack Energy? Maybe It’s Your Magnesium Level.United States Department of Agriculture, AgResearch Magazine.|
|↑21||Yogurt, plain, low fat, 12 grams protein per 8 ounce. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑22||Cereals ready-to-eat, POST, Shredded Wheat, original big biscuit. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑23||Cereals, oats, instant, fortified, plain, dry. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑24||Edamame, frozen, prepared. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|