11 magnesium-rich foods you really ought to chuck on your plate.

There’s a good chance you’ve been hearing murmurs about magnesium around the place of late.

In the supermarket, at the chemist, on Instagram and written on the labels of oils and sprays – everyone’s talking about the mineral and how it can solve all (OK, some) of your problems.

Better sleep, faster muscle recovery, more energy and elevated mood are just some of the alleged benefits of eating magnesium-rich foods and using magnesium-based products.

So is magnesium a legitimate cure-all, or the next wellness fad?

To sort fact from fiction, we asked Accredited Practising Dietitians and founding directors of The Biting Truth Anna Debenham and Alex Parker to sum up what you need to know about the benefits of magnesium and which magnesium-rich foods to chuck on your plate.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium, aside from being one of the many elements you were made to memorise in high school, is a mineral crucial to the overall function of the human body.

It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body – approximately 50 per cent of magnesium in the body is found in bone, and the other half inside cells of body tissues and organs, the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council reports.

Debenham and Parker added, “Every cell in your body contains magnesium, and needs it to function.”

Magnesium benefits.

According to Debenham and Parker, some of the main functions of magnesium include:

  • Muscle contraction and relaxation: This is one of its most well-known roles.
  • Energy production: It is also involved in energy creation by helping to convert the food we eat into energy and it helps to create new proteins.
  • Gene repair and maintenance: it helps create and repair your DNA.
  • Protein production: it helps create new proteins from amino acids.
  • Bone development: involved in the regulation of calcium and vitamin D.

They added, “While further research is needed, there is some emerging evidence linking magnesium to improving conditions such as PMS symptoms in women, preventing migraines, improving mood in people suffering with depression and improving sleep quality.”

Side note – here are some specific foods that might help with PMS symptoms. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

Magnesium deficiencies.

Debenham and Parker noted it’s rare to have a true magnesium deficiency, but around 33 per cent of Aussies are not getting enough magnesium through their diet.

“The earliest signs of magnesium deficiency include nausea, general fatigue and a loss of appetite. In more advance cases, someone with a deficiency could experience heart proles, weakness, muscle cramping, trouble sleeping and seizures,” they said.

“If you are worried you might be deficient, seek the support of your doctor or Accredited Practising Dietitian.”

How much magnesium do I need?

“How much magnesium you need varies depending on your age and gender,” Debenham and Parker said.

For example, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand reports the recommended magnesium intake for women and girls aged 14-18 is 360mg per day, 310mg for women aged 19-30, and 320mg for 31 and over.

Those numbers don’t mean much to the everyday person walking down the supermarket aisle, but to put them in perspective:

  • 1/4 cup almonds provides you with around 100mg magnesium.
  • A medium banana contains around 33mg magnesium.
  • 1/2 cup broccoli contains around 51mg magnesium.

Magnesium foods to include in your diet.

If you’re keen to up your magnesium intake, Debenham and Parker suggested stocking up on all the ‘good things’ – dark leafy greens (sigh), fish high in Omega 3 oil and grainy foods.

“Magnesium is found in a variety of foods. It might surprise you that plant-based food sources (e.g. grains, fruits and vegetables) typically have higher levels of magnesium compared to meats or dairy foods. Higher fibre foods also tend to contain higher levels.”

Some good sources include:

  • Seeds e.g. pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower.
  • Nuts e.g. brazil, cashews, almonds, peanuts.
  • Fatty fish e.g. mackerel, salmon, halibut.
  • Dark leafy green vegetables e.g. spinach, collard greens, kale.
  • Cooked potato.
  • Avocado.
  • Bananas.
  • Tofu and Soy products.
  • Tahini.
  • Wholegrains.
  • Dark chocolate.

No, that last one’s not a typo.

This article is not to be substituted for personalised, professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor of health professional.

Do you feel like you get enough magnesium in your diet? Tell us in the comments!

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