10 Delicious Foods High in Magnesium, Benefits, Dosage

Does eating foods high in magnesium help you lose weight? Some people say it does. I read the studies and have an answer below. First, a quick primer on magnesium and the amazing health benefits.

Magnesium is essential for the health of your bones, muscles, heart, brain and nervous system. 

Often referred to as the master commander in your body, this electrolyte produces antioxidants to keep you healthy. 

Magnesium is in charge of hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body. These reactions help turn food into energy, make your muscles move, form protein and maintain your nervous system.

Much like potassium, most of us fail to get enough magnesium in our diets. Some research suggests that two thirds of us may be deficient. 

Cashews are a source of magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is incredibly dangerous. After your bones, most of the magnesium in your body is found in your heart and brain (1).

For this reason, magnesium deficiency can lead to diabetes, heart disease, bone-related issues and Alzheimer’s (2).

Thankfully, there are many delicious whole foods that are full of magnesium. You can find magnesium in foods like dark leafy vegetables, fish, seeds and more. Scroll down for the full list.

First I’ll touch on why magnesium is so important to your health, performance and longevity. 

Magnesium Health Benefits

Better Sleep Quality With Magnesium

Eating more magnesium-rich foods may be beneficial to a good night’s sleep. Those who are into magnesium swear by its ability to relax your mind and muscles to prepare you for sleep. 

The research is early on magnesium and sleep, there’s one interesting study which shows magnesium to increase sleep quality and decrease time to sleep in those with insomnia (3).

Magnesium Can Boost Exercise Performance

Magnesium increases exercise performance by helping your body produce energy. It’s been shown that our body needs 10-20% more magnesium during exercise than when at rest (4).

As a key electrolyte, magnesium also shuttles blood sugar into your working muscles and helps your body ward off fatigue by disposing of lactate (5)

Research shows magnesium to boost exercise performance in everyone from athletes, to elderly populations with chronic disease (6).

One study showed faster running, cycling and swimming times in those who supplemented with magnesium. These participants also had lower insulin and stress hormone levels (7).

cycling performance increased with magnesium

Magnesium Normalizes Blood Sugar And Protects Against Diabetes 

Magnesium helps to stabilize blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes. Let me explain because this is pretty convincing.

At the heart of diabetes is insulin resistance: an inability of your liver and muscles to properly absorb sugar from your bloodstream. It is the leading cause of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Those with type 2 diabetes typically have less magnesium in their blood. Researchers think that magnesium helps to keep our bodies blood sugar levels in balance (8).

Also, supplementing with magnesium is shown to lower blood sugar response. Finally, those with a low magnesium intake are at an increased risk for developing diabetes (9,10)

Magnesium Can Reduce High Blood Pressure To Support Your Heart

If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder, putting a strain on your heart muscles leading to heart disease.

Magnesium deficiency is linked to cardiovascular (heart) disease (11)

Eating foods high in magnesium can have a protective effect on high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies show the magnesium can reduce high blood pressure (12)

Magnesium Alleviates PMS Symptoms

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is common among women of childbearing age. Symptoms vary but can include water retention, abdominal cramps, digestive issues, tiredness, mood swings and more. 

Interestingly, magnesium improves mood, reduces water retention and other symptoms in women suffering from PMS (13).

Magnesium Support Bone Health

Most of us associate calcium with strong bones, when in fact, magnesium plays a crucial role. 

Low levels of magnesium results in more fragile bones and higher risk for osteoporosis (14). With less magnesium, there is more inflammation and less crystal formation in your bones. Eventually, your bones gradually degrade and break down. 

Lastly, those with higher magnesium levels are shown to have higher bone mineral density (15)

Magnesium Improves and Prevents Migraines

If you’ve never had a migraine, consider yourself fortunate. They are incredibly debilitating and can cause nausea, light sensitivity and vomiting. 

Low levels of magnesium in the body may lead to migraines. Foods high in magnesium are shown to reduce migraine symptoms. 

Some studies have shown that magnesium can prevent and even treat those suffering from migraines (16)

One study even showed that taking magnesium during a migraine lessened the symptoms better than a common medication (17).

The Potent Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Magnesium

In those suffering from chronic disease, obesity and aging you typically see chronic inflammation. 

Low levels of magnesium are linked to chronic inflammation. Moreover, magnesium is shown to help reduce inflammation in those suffering from obesity and diabetes (18, 19)

What’s even more interesting is that foods high in magnesium like fatty fish and dark chocolate are also shown to decrease inflammation.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need?

The good news is that magnesium is safe and widely available in many of your favourite foods.

The recommended daily intake is the following:

  • Men: 400-420 mg per day.
  • Women: 310-320 mg per day.

Foods High in Magnesium Infographic

10 Foods High in Magnesium

1. Spinach

1 cup boiled: 156 mg - 37% RDI

2. Swiss Chard

1 cup boiled: 150 mg - 36% RDI

3. Halibut

100g filet: 104 mg 24% RDI

4. Beet Greens

1 cup boiled: 98 mg - 23% RDI

5. Cashews

1 handful / 19 g raw: 68 mg - 16% RDI

6. Dark Chocolate (85% cocoa)

28 g serving: 65 mg - 15% RDI

7. Avocado

1 whole: 58 mg - 14% RDI

8. Pumpkin seeds 

1 tbsp raw: 44 mg - 11% RDI

9. Sesame Seeds

1 tbsp, raw: 30 mg - 7% RDI

10. Black Beans

¼ cup: 30 mg - 7% RDI

Should I Supplement With Magnesium?

Getting enough magnesium is incredibly important. You can most likely cover your magnesium needs with whole foods. 

There are a ton of magnesium supplements on the market in different forms of magnesium. I would check with your doctor before taking any magnesium supplements. Especially if you have an underlying medical condition. 

You may be at risk of magnesium deficiency if you have inflammatory bowel disease, frequent vomiting or diarrhea, kidney and liver issues or heart issues. 

Magnesium Supplement Side-Effects 

There are some anecdotal side effects of magnesium supplements. These include diarrhea, bloating, upset stomach and nausea / vomiting. 

What are the Cons of Taking Magnesium?

Taking too much magnesium will give you loose stool. Large doses of magnesium can also cause nausea, vomitting, low blood pressure, kidney trouble, depression and lethargy. 

What Time Of Day Should I Take Magnesium?

Magnesium can be taken any time of day if it is well tolerated by you. Some people take magnesium before bed to help them relax and sleep while others take magnesium first thing in the morning. 

What are the Symptoms of Low Magnesium?

Conditions and symptoms of low magnesium include migraines, restless legs, worsened PMS symptoms, insomnia, weak bones, high blood pressure, kidney and liver issues, muscle cramps or weakness. 

Magnesium deficiency is also linked to many serious chronic health issues like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, migraines and  Alzheimer’s Disease. 

It is important to try and eat as many whole foods high in magnesium as possible throughout your day.

What Does Magnesium do for a Women’s Body? 

There’s evidence that women eating magnesium rich foods can help with symptoms of PMS, bloating, cramping. Magnesium also helps keep your bones strong, controls blood sugar and can assist with sleep. 

Can Magnesium Make You Lose Weight?

Magnesium levels are lower in obese people and higher in those who are not overweight. High magnesium intake can possibly help you lose weight because it is helps improve insulin sensitivity in your body (20).

Does Magnesium Make You Lose Belly Fat?

Magnesium will not help you lose belly fat. You can’t spot reduce fat. However, magnesium has a positive correlation with weight loss.


Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the CFIA or FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 



Images via pixabay Aline Ponce, Mabel Amber, jacqueline macou, Siobhan Dolezal, Pezibear, Martin Hetto, tookapic, skeeze. Images via pexels Nikita Belokhonov.

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