Foods Rich in Magnesium

Foods Rich in Magnesium

Before reviewing those foods that are rich in magnesium we have to mention that it is the fourth most abundant chemical element in the composition of the human body (two thirds of it are found in the bones), accounting for a 0.05%. It is macromineral along with sodium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, chlorine and sulfur, minerals that require more than 100 milligrams per day (in contrast to microminerals or trace elements, which move between 1 and 100 mg).

Importance of Magnesium for the Organism

Main Functions

The role of magnesium within the body is split into two main aspects:

  1. Structural, since it is mainly concentrated in the bone tissue.
  2. Regulatory, due to its intervention in more than three hundred biochemical reactions. This task is sometimes crucial, since it conditions processes linked to obtaining energy within the cells.

Magnesium sources

Physiological Functions

The main duties that it shares with other substances are to guarantee the correct functioning of the muscles and nervous system, to strengthen both the immune system ( which is decisive in the synthesis of antibodies) and the bone and dental matrices, and to maintain the heart rate (thanks to the activation of an enzyme in the functioning of the sodium-potassium pump).

Metabolic Functions

Its involvement in a large number of metabolic phenomena gives it an important role in other basic cell functions at the same time, since it contributes to stabilizing blood glucose levels, the production of energy from glucose and the synthesis of proteins, including collagen, with which it has a particular synergy, and the immunoglobulins or antibodies mentioned above.

The functions of magnesium

Support for the Brain Function and Ocular System

This mineral, at the same time, is fundamental in the transformation of the omega-3 fatty acids into docosahexaenoic acid, a vital substance for brain function and for the retina.

Joint Health

It is still possible to extend the list of magnesium functions by referring to its action at the level of the joint capsule, where it helps to preserve the ideal texture of the synovial fluid, without overlooking its contribution to counteracting stress, the formation of thrombus and inflammatory reactions.

What happens if you do not take a lot of Magnesium?

There is unanimity within the scientific community when it comes to considering magnesium as an indispensable element for the proper functioning of the organism. Not in vain, a magnesium deficiency triggers symptoms that can reach a serious condition, from basic manifestations of hypertension, digestive disorders, muscle weakness associated with cramps, tremors and paresthesias (tingling), fatigue, asthenia and behavioral and cognitive alterations.

Discover which Magnesium Dose to Take to improve your health.

Lack of magnesium

What are the causes of a Magnesium Deficiency?

The deficit usually appears due to overeating of processed foods to the detriment of fruits, vegetables and other raw foods. Simultaneously, it is associated with addiction to alcohol, cirrhosis, renal insufficiency, alterations in intestinal absorption or as a consequence of burns or surgery.

What is the Recommended Daily Amount of Magnesium?

The experts in nutrition recommend a daily intake of magnesium between 300 and 350mg for men and pregnant women and between 250 and 300mg for non-pregnant women. With a very revealing detail: the risk of suffering a stroke is reduced by a 9% for every 100mg taken a day that exceeds the recommendations.

Prevent strokes with magnesium

Which foods are magnesium sources?

In order to meet these needs, nature provides us with a generous list of foods that are well endowed with magnesium. What happens is that the industrial refining processes to which certain foods are subjected substantially reduce the concentration of this mineral, which can be reduced to a 10% or less than the original amount.

Factors that reduce the amount of Magnesium

Toasting, cooking and boiling are responsible for halving the magnesium content of vegetables, for example. There are also other causes, such as the presence of certain substances like phytic and oxalic acid, which can inhibit its absorption; medicines, age and/or genetic factors.

Vegetable sources of magnesium

Some of the best sources of magnesium are dark green vegetables*, legumes, cereals, wheat bread, fish and nuts.

*Depending on the factors mentioned above, chard or spinach, to mention the green leafy vegetables with the highest magnesium content, are not included in the top ten described below because they are usually consumed after being cooked.

Top 10 Foods Rich in Magnesium

Here is a compilation of the 10 best food sources that provide significant quantities of magnesium.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds and magnesium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

Sunflower seeds are at the top of this selection of magnesium-rich foods, with 387 milligrams per 100 grams. This is why its regular consumption is very advisable to combat asthma, hypertension, migraines and headaches and prevent heart attacks.

Nutritional Value and Properties

Something particularly interesting in its composition is its richness in unsaturated fatty acids, a factor that controls the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and antioxidants (particularly vitamin E), which reduce the risk of cancer and mitigate the effects of aging. Selenium also plays an important role in this task because of its ability to encourage the repair of cell damage to DNA.

Its remarkable anti-inflammatory properties are useful to relieve osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It is one of the foods with most dietary fiber, which is practical to achieve two objectives: improve the intestinal transit and get that feeling of satiety sought in slimming diets.

Caviar

Caviar and magnesium

How much Magnesium does it provide?

Its 300mg of magnesium per 100 grams puts it at the second place. However, this food is not a regular part of the diet for obvious reasons.

Nutritional Value and Properties

We can draw some similarities between its nutritional benefits and what has been described about sunflower seeds. For example, it is a food that is very rich in vitamin E, since 100 grams contain 5.8 mg; apart from very respectable amounts of vitamin B12 or cobalamin, which makes it very advisable for those who are prone to gastric problems; and B5 (pantothenic acid), especially indicated for those who tend to suffer stress or migraines.

On the other hand, the concentration of omega 3 fatty acids is such that a spoonful of caviar daily would be enough to combat clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

Finally, within the mineral components we must mention iron, which is present in quantities that make this food a very effective way of preventing iron-deficiency anemia or even recovering from it, as well as for those who practice high-demand sports that are related to a strong use of this mineral.

Almonds

Almonds, magnesium and calcium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

Like most nuts, almonds are a good source of magnesium, providing 270mg per 100 grams.

Nutritional Value and Properties

But regarding its nutritional qualities, the first thing to note is that there is scientific evidence that links the regular consumption of almonds with cardiovascular health. The secret lies in its high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with molecules that mainly contain essential fatty acids. One of its main tasks is to balance the HDL and LDL and cholesterol.

On the other hand, almond is also considered an ideal food to prevent osteoporosis, since it is one of the main known sources of calcium; moreover, it is advisable for diabetes, because it helps to keep the blood glucose levels regulated. In this last aspect, their abundant slow absorption carbohydrates, low glycemic index, decisively influence their ability to fit into the diet of diabetics, apart from controlling their sensitivity to insulin.

It provides soluble fiber of excellent quality, which contributes to the maintenance of a proper intestinal functionality. Likewise, its vitamin E content allows to classify almonds among those foods with a high antioxidant power.

Snails

Snails and magnesium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

This mollusc, excellently endowed with magnesium (250mg per 100 grams), has a very unique nutritional profile. This meat is practically fat-free, so its caloric contribution is modest (no more than 80 calories per 100 grams).

Nutritional Value and Properties

Its proteins compete with those of the rest of the animal kingdom, since they have an exquisite biological value due to the fact that they are a great source of essential amino acids.

They contain an excellent conglomerate of mineral substances that approximately make up 1.5% of the weight of a specimen, with iron standing out above the rest.

Niacin (vitamin B3) stands out among the vitamins, its amount in one hundred grams doubles what the WHO recommends for the daily intake; therefore, snails are a very interesting ingredient in children, adolescents and pregnant women given the involvement of this vitamin in several metabolic reactions linked to the hydrolysis and oxidation of carbohydrates and lipids.

Peanuts

Peanuts and Magnesium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

Their 210 mg of magnesium per 100 grams are just the tip of an iceberg of a food that is very useful in nutritional terms.

Nutritional Value and Properties

First of all, we will say that what is apparently a handicap, which is its high fat content, contains a virtue, since a 50% is monounsaturated, being basically oleic acid. And we will also say that even though it is a legume (contrary to the belief that it is a nut) a forth part of its chemical composition are proteins, which is why it plays an interesting role in muscle growth.

We will draw attention to its richness in vitamins B3, B5 and folic acid. The first one is useful for the entire circulatory system, diabetes and arthritis. B5 or pantothenic acid is ideal for the treatment of stress and migraines, as well as to reduce the excess of cholesterol.

Moreover, it contains enough zinc, which promotes the absorption and deposit of insulin and works with the former to avoid fatigue.

There is an ingredient similar to cholesterol, beta-sitosterol, that is present in peanuts in higher quantities than other vegetables. It has been recognized as an important blocker of the growth of tumor cells. The peanut peel contains Resveratrol which is an antioxidant source.

Legumes

Legumes source of magnesium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

Magnesium, chickpeas, beans and peas stand out in this food group, since they contain around 150mg per 100 grams, while lentils bring that number down by half. Soy flour deserves a special mention, because it has a magnesium content of 247 mg per 100 grams.

Nutritional Value and Properties

But legumes are, in general, one of the star foods of the Mediterranean diet and not by chance. They stand out for their levels of potassium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. The latter, in particular, makes legumes an indispensable food for the proper development of the body, especially the immune system, from early childhood.

When it comes to vitamins, all of them shine for their richness in almost the entire B group, which is proof of the enormous repertoire of metabolic benefits that comes with its consumption.

The experts are beginning to prescribe them as a basic pillar of hypocaloric diets since it is known that several of its components intervene in the regulation of the metabolism of lipoproteins.

Skimmed milk powder

Skimmed milk powder and magnesium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

It is one of the foods of animal origin that are used in diets that are designed to fix any magnesium deficit, since it has 130mg of magnesium per 100 grams.

Nutritional Value and Properties

Its good nutritional profile is completed with:

  • Potassium, a macronmineral that is very important to control hypertension among other functions.
  • Phosphorus, another fundamental macromineral for multiple tissues and systems.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), useful to combat insomnia and stress.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), another enemy of stress which is capable of contributing to reducing the LDL cholesterol.
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin), specifically aimed at the health of the epithelium and horny layer (skin, hair, nails..), apart for contributing to balance the blood glucose levels.

Pistachios

Pistachios and magnesium

How much Magnesium do they provide?

They occupy a deserved place in this list with 122mg of magnesium per 100 grams because, in addition, their consumption is highly advisable due to the extraordinary biological quality of their fat, which is basically monounsaturated and with mostly oleic acid in its composition. From this aspect it can be deduced that pistachio is considered a very heart-healthy food.

Nutritional Value and Properties

Pistachios are an inestimable source of vitamin B6, irreplaceable in the production of hemoglobin, which is the pigment contained in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells through the blood. But it is also worth mentioning its key role in the synthesis of myelin coating the nerve cells, without which the transmission of nerve impulses would not be effective. The effects of this vitamin in the nervous system do not stop there, since it is involved in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, adrenaline and gamma-aminobutyric acid.

A distinguishing feature with regard to other nuts is its content in two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants with a more specific action in the macula of the retina. Apart from its antioxidant power, we must not forget its high vitamin E content.

Finally, we will emphasize that due to its high iron content, this food plays a good role in those who perform intense physical efforts and in women who experience very abundant menstruations.

Black Chocolate

Black chocolate and magnesium

How much Magnesium does it provide?

Its 100mg of magnesium every 100 grams come from the richness of the cocoa seeds as a raw ingredient when producing black or bitter chocolate which is cataloged as one of the best edible sources of antioxidants.

Nutritional Value and Properties

A category of biologically very active organic substances comes into play in its chemical composition, among which flavonoids stand out since they have an enormous capacity to act as antioxidants at the cell membrane. In particular, the flavonoids in bitter chocolate encourage the synthesis of nitric oxide in the outer layer of the arterial wall. Said oxide, of gaseous consistency, produces vascular relaxation, increasing the blood flow and, consequently, reducing the blood pressure. There are even some studies that state that the regular consumption of bitter chocolate (at least twice a week) can stop the process of formation of the dreaded atheroma plaques in the arterial walls in a estimated 30%.

To top it all, cocoa also provides large amounts of iron, calcium, provitamin A, and vitamins E, B1, B2 and B3.

Whole Bread

Whole bread and magnesium

How much Magnesium does it provide?

One hundred grams of this food provide our body with 78mg of magnesium. But perhaps its greatest appeal in the diet comes from the protective effect of its fiber against cardiovascular processes. In addition, the whole bread flour preserves the amounts of the two vitamins of the group B from wheat, thiamine and niacin.

Nutritional Value and Properties

But to reflect more accurately the advantages of this bread with regard to white bread, it is enough to say that it contains almost 70% more iron, three times more zinc and magnesium, twice as much potassium and more than twice as much phosphorus.

A very interesting fact for those who suffer from gout or are at risk of suffering it is the absence of purines (nitrogen compounds derived from DNA), so eating whole bread decreases the synthesis of uric acid.

On the other hand, the glycemic index is significantly lower than that of white bread, which makes it possible to include it in diets for diabetics. In addition, it prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes by promoting the secretion of insulin.

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About Alberto Ricón
Alberto Ricón
Alberto Ricón is a specialist in nutrition and food hygiene with a lot of experience in this field. He works as a Food Safety Technician in Castilla La Mancha.
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