Improve your health with these tasty foods high in magnesium, plus get 20 delicious magnesium-rich recipes!

Did you know that magnesium is one of the most important minerals for human health? It’s involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and plays a vital role in everything from energy production to protein synthesis to cardiac function.

Unfortunately, many people are not getting enough magnesium in their diets. In this post, I’ll discuss the benefits of magnesium-rich foods and provide some tips on how to get more of this essential mineral into your diet!

Photo of foods high in magnesium including spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, chia seeds, avocado, almonds, dark chocolate, bananas, and beans.

Magnesium Health Benefits

Magnesium regulates blood pressure, is required for energy production, maintains bone health, supports a healthy immune system, and stabilizes your heart rhythm. It also regulates blood glucose levels, keeps you regular (we’re talking bathroom regular here), and helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function.  Health conditions magnesium might help with include:

Migraines

Research has suggested that up to 50% of people with migraines may be deficient in magnesium. And several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low magnesium levels. Dosages typically used in studies were 600 mg/day.

If you suffer from migraines, like I do, try boosting your intake of magnesium-rich foods first to see if it lessens the frequency of your headaches. If not, you may want to consider trying a magnesium supplement.

Diabetes

Individuals with diabetes are typically magnesium deficient, and some studies have suggested magnesium supplementation may help with insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

A 2015 double-blind placebo-controlled study looking at the effect of magnesium supplementation on 116 people with pre-diabetes found magnesium supplementation improved blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. However, it’s important to note that only people with low magnesium levels showed significant improvement.

High Blood Pressure & Heart Health

Although reductions are small, some studies have suggested that supplemental magnesium may also help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. The median dose of magnesium used in these studies was 368 mg/day.

In addition, epidemiological studies and meta-analyses have associated high magnesium intake with a lowered risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, along with hypertension.

Osteoporosis

Although studies are limited, bone mineral density may be increased in postmenopausal women with increased intake of foods high in magnesium, as well as magnesium supplements.

Constipation

Fluids, fiber-rich foods, exercise, two kiwi fruit per day, & fiber supplements, if needed, are my go-to recommendations for alleviating constipation in my clients with IBS. However, when that doesn’t work, I’ll recommend foods high in magnesium and a magnesium supplement to help with constipation.

Mood & Sleep

Did you know that magnesium helps regulate melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep/wake cycle? In addition, magnesium may help dampen anxiety by binding to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).

While sleep studies with supplemental magnesium are limited, one study of 45 older adults showed improvement in subjective measures of insomnia after taking 500 mg of magnesium daily for eight weeks. In addition, and anecdotally, many of my clients find supplementing with magnesium at night helps them sleep better.

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sleep Tips for Better Health & Good Mood Food: Mood-Boosting Foods to Help You Feel Great.

The Bottom Line:

Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in our bodies and is essential for hundreds of biochemical reactions to maintain health. Magnesium truly is MARVELOUS!

Are you getting enough magnesium in your diet?

Foods high in magnesium. Colorful salad with greens, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
Your body will thank you for eating this delicious magnesium-rich Superfood Quinoa Salad!

Dietary studies of people in the US have consistently shown that magnesium intakes are less than recommended. In addition, the following groups of people are at risk for magnesium deficiency:

  • Gastrointestinal diseases, including Crohn’s and celiac disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Older adults

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for magnesium in healthy adults is as follows:

  • Women 19-30, 310 mg/day
  • Women 31+, 320 mg/day
  • Pregnant Women 350-360 mg/day
  • Lactating Women 310-320 mg/day
  • Men 19-30, 400 mg/day
  • Men 31+ 420 mg/day

What about magnesium supplements?

While it’s optimal to eat these foods high in magnesium listed below, if you can’t meet your recommended daily allowance of magnesium through food sources alone, consider a supplement if needed-although it can be tricky choosing one.

  • Magnesium oxide is inexpensive, but it’s not well absorbed and may cause diarrhea. Consider this form for constipation.
  • Magnesium citrate is a good option that I typically recommend for constipation, as it tends to be gentler on your digestive system than magnesium oxide.
  • Magnesium glycinate is my go-to recommendation for a well-absorbed magnesium supplement. Choose this form for health conditions other than constipation.
  • Powdered magnesium, like OMG! Nutrition magnesium is another option if you don’t like taking pills. You can mix it in water and sip it throughout the day.

Important! Although supplemental magnesium is generally safe, check with your physician or registered dietitian first to determine if, what, and how much magnesium supplementation is needed, especially if you are taking diuretics, heart medications, or antibiotics.

Now that you have a pretty good idea of WHY magnesium is so important to you health, let’s talk about HOW you can get more of this marvelous mineral in your diet!

8 Delicious Foods High in Magnesium

Infographic featuring foods high in magnesium: pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, soybeans, sesame seeds, quinoa, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds.

For a “food first” approach, aim to get ~400 mg/day of magnesium from a combination of these foods high in magnesium.

FOODS HIGH IN MAGNESIUMSERVING SIZEAMOUNT OF MAGNESIUM
Pumpkin Seeds1/4 cup190 mg
Spinach & Swiss Chard1 cup (raw)150 mg
Soybeans1 cup148 mg
Black Beans1 cup129 mg
Sesame Seeds1/4 cup126 mg
Quinoa1 cup118 mg
Cashew Nuts1 cup116 mg
Sunflower Seeds1/4 cup114 mg

Other delicious foods that are good sources of magnesium to eat regularly include:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Brown rice
  • Chia seeds
  • Beans, especially lima beans, navy beans, and pinto beans
  • Buckwheat and other whole grains
  • Collard greens and other dark leafy greens
  • Dairy products
  • Dark chocolate. Yes, please!!!
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Soy milk
  • Tempeh

And, now that you know WHICH foods to eat, here are 20 tasty recipes featuring foods high in magnesium.

Foods High in Magnesium | Breakfast

Terracotta bowl filled with chai spiced pumpkin seed almond muesli.

Foods High in Magnesium | Lunch & Dinner

White bowl filled with kale, green apples, edamame, sunflower seed salad.

Foods High in Magnesium | Snacks & Desserts

A stack of 3 vegan black bean brownies topped with pecans.

Let’s Chat! Which of these foods high in magnesium do you eat regularly?  Do you get enough magnesium in your diet?  Do you supplement with magnesium to help with any health conditions? Which of these recipes would you most like to try?? And, If you enjoyed this post, I’d love for you to share it! Thanks so much for your helping me spread the word that healthy IS delicious!