Magnesium is a mineral essential for mental, emotional, and physical health. If you and your doctor have established that there’s a strong likelihood that you are magnesium deficient, the next step is to ensure that you have an adequate intake of the mineral through diet and supplementation. Sometimes, supplements are necessary to maintain your health, but they should not be seen as a long-term or cure-all solution. Rather, you should always work to get the full range of vitamins and minerals from your diet, and use supplements to support your health where food is unable to, or to decrease the severity of a mineral or vitamin deficiency in a shorter amount of time. Supplementation is not an excuse to abuse your diet and eat whatever you want, and you should familiarise yourself with the basics of nutrition to ensure you get an adequate amount of each nutrient.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium is dependent on your age and sex. On average, teenagers need a higher dose of magnesium to support their growing bodies, at 360mg (female) and 410mg (male). An adult between the ages of nineteen and thirty needs about 310mg (female) or 400mg (male) of magnesium, and the elderly need only a slightly higher dose than the adult allowance. Once you’ve figured out which of these categories you fall into and how much magnesium you should be getting every day, take a look at a comprehensive food chart to work out an approximate of how much magnesium you are getting each day, and which foods you could add to your diet to improve your magnesium intake.
High Food Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium is plentiful in green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and foods that are high in fibre are likely to be high in magnesium as well. Food processing generally lowers the mineral and vitamin content found in foods, and this is true for magnesium also, so if you add the following foods to your diet, remember to avoid eating them in highly processed forms (such as pre-packaged meals). The following is a list of foods with high contents of magnesium:
- Almonds – 80mg for about a palm-full of nuts
- Spinach – 78mg for a half cup
- Cashews – 74mg per serving
- Peanuts – 63mg per quarter cup
- Peanut butter – 49mg for two tablespoons
- Whole wheat bread – 46mg for two slices
- Avocado – 44mg for one to two avocado
- Brown rice – 42mg for half cup
- Banana – 32mg for one medium-sized banana
- Salmon – 26mg per three ounces
- Chicken breast – 22mg per three ounces
- Beef – 20mg per three ounces
You can see from the above list that vegetables, fruits and grains usually contain a much higher source of magnesium than animal-based products. Vegetarians are thus likely to have higher levels of magnesium, and provided they are not suffering from any physical conditions that inhibit magnesium absorption, may not need to pay as much attention to the amount of magnesium they are getting on a daily basis. If you frequently eat animal-based products, make sure you include some of the above foods into your diet more regularly.