Magnesium is a mineral that regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, and nerve function. Although magnesium is an essential nutrient, less than half of adults don’t consume enough in their diets.
That’s because our diet usually lacks magnesium-rich foods, like leafy greens, seeds, and beans.
Incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diet can prevent a deficiency.
Here is what you need to know about how much magnesium you need and which foods contain the most.
How much magnesium do you need?
Consuming magnesium through your diet is better than relying on supplements.
That’s because magnesium-rich foods provide other nutrients many lack like dietary fiber and calcium.
However, if you are not able to get enough magnesium from food, a supplement can help. Speak with your doctor for proper dosage.
Here’s a breakdown of foods high in magnesium.
1. Pumpkin Seeds
One of the best sources of magnesium is pumpkin seeds.
One cup contains 168 mg of magnesium, which is about 40% of the recommended daily intake for men and 52% for women.
Pumpkin seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve cardiovascular health and lower inflammation.
Some ways to add pumpkin seeds to your diet include:
- Roasting and eating as a snack
- Sprinkling on salads or soup
- Combining them with dried raisins or cranberries and chocolate chips to make your own trail mix
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are also high in magnesium.
One cup of spinach contains 163 mg of magnesium, which is about 38% of the recommended daily intake for men and 50% for women.
Leafy greens also contain vitamins K, folate, and iron, which are important for bone health.
Some ways to incorporate spinach into your diet include:
- Adding it to a salad or brothy soup
- Blending it up in a smoothie with frozen fruit, milk, and/or juice
- Adding it to scrambled eggs or an omelet
Nuts are another great source of magnesium.
They also contain fiber and healthy unsaturated fats, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
The nuts with the most magnesium include:
- Cashews, which contain 89 mg of magnesium per ¼ cup
- Peanuts, which contain 90 mg of magnesium per ¼ cup
- Walnuts, which contain 63 mg per ¼ cup
- Hazelnuts, which contain 47 mg per ¼ cup
Some ways to add nuts to your diet include:
- Sprinkling almonds on yogurt or peanuts on frozen yogurt for a treat
- Adding walnuts or cashews to a salad
- Bringing a small package of nuts with you to snack on when you leave the house
Legumes are seeds and include foods like beans and lentils.
These foods are not only a great source of magnesium, but also high in protein and fiber and low in fat.
Legumes with the most magnesium include:
- Black beans, which contain 120 mg of magnesium per cup — about 28% of the recommended daily intake for men and 38% for women.
- Edamame, which contains 99 mg of magnesium per cup — about 25% of the recommended daily intake for men and 30% for women.
- Kidney beans, which contain 89 mg of magnesium per cup — about 21% of the recommended daily intake for men and 28% for women.
Because they are also high in fiber, legumes can help you feel fuller longer, which can assist in weight loss.
Some ways to incorporate legumes into your diet include:
- Puree beans to make dips and spreads
- Add beans or lentils to soups
- Add black beans to salads or rice
5. Fatty fish
Not only are fatty fish an easy way to add magnesium to your diet, but they are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.
In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week to reduce your risk of and stroke.
Examples of fatty fish high in magnesium include:
- Salmon, which contains 81 mg of magnesium per three ounces — about 19% of the recommended daily intake for men and 25% for women.
- Halibut, which contains 28 mg of magnesium per three ounces — about 7% of the recommended daily intake for men and 9% for women.
- Mackerel, which contains 27 mg of magnesium per three ounces — about 6% of the recommended daily intake for men and 8% for women.
Here are some ways to incorporate fatty fish into your diet:
- Make fish tacos with halibut
- Add grilled salmon to a salad or smoked salmon to a morning bagel
- Sub mackerel for chicken in a chicken salad sandwich
Breakfast cereals are often fortified with magnesium.
Fortification is when food companies add nutrients not naturally found in a product during processing.
Breakfast cereals with the most magnesium include:
- Oat Bran Flakes, which contain 72 mg of magnesium per cup — about 17% of the recommended daily intake for men and 23% for women.
- Raisin Bran, which contains 63 mg of magnesium per 1.25 cups — about 15% of the recommended daily intake for men and 20% for women.
- Cheerios, which contain 32 mg of magnesium per cup — about 8% of the recommended daily intake for men and 10% for women.
Be sure to look for cereals with no added sugar that are also high in fiber.
Bananas are another great source of magnesium, containing 61 mg of magnesium per fruit, which is about 15% of the recommended daily value for men and 19% for women.
Bananas also contain potassium and vitamin B6, which help boost the immune system.
Ways to incorporate bananas into your diet include:
- Add sliced banana and peanut butter to cooked oatmeal
- Top peanut butter toast with sliced banana
- Eat a sliced banana topped with a drizzle of honey and cinnamon
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that helps regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, muscle, and nerve function. Foods high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, beans, and dark, leafy greens, like spinach.
While how much magnesium you need a day depends on your sex and age, the average adult needs between 310 milligrams (mg) and 420 mg.
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