What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral within your body, and is responsible for many important jobs to keep you healthy. Magnesium is a “helper molecule” that is needed for over 300 metabolic reactions in your body, including DNA synthesis, normal heart rhythm, and ATP production, which is your body’s source of energy.

Chlorophyll, which gives vegetables like spinach, kale, and chard their green color, is a major source of magnesium in the diet. Nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, potatoes, meat, and fish are also rich in magnesium.


Good Food Sources of Magnesium:

·      Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce: 80 mg

·      Spinach, boiled, ½ cup: 78 mg

·      Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce: 74 mg

·      Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup: 61 mg

·      Black beans, cooked, ½ cup: 60 mg

·      Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces: 43 mg

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Magnesium (per day):


·      1-3 years: 80 mg

·      4-8 years: 130 mg

·      9-13 years: 240 mg

Adolescents (14-18 years)

·    Males: 410 mg

·    Females: 360 mg

Adults 19-30 years

·     Males: 400 mg

·     Females: 310 mg

·     Pregnancy: 350 mg

·      Lactation: 310 mg

Adults 31-50 years

·     Males: 420 mg

·     Females: 320 mg

·      Pregnancy: 360 mg

·     Lactation: 320 mg

Adults 51+ years

·      Males: 420 mg

·      Females: 320 mg


Currently, the typical American diet is low in magnesium, with about 60% of American adults not consuming the RDA for magnesium. Studies have shown that magnesium intake has been consistently decreasing over the last 100 years, and is largely a result of processed foods in the diet. Refining or processing food may deplete magnesium content by 85%. For example, magnesium is lost from wheat during processing to white flour.

Eating less magnesium rich foods and more processed foods has led many people to a magnesium deficiency. Uncontrolled diabetes, old age, alcoholism, malabsorption problems, such as Crohn’s disease, and certain medications, such as diuretics, are also risk factors for developing a magnesium deficiency. Early signs of deficiency include anxiety, weakness, agitation, headache, loss of appetite, muscle cramps or spasms, nausea, and trouble sleeping. Some people may also be asymptomatic, showing no signs at all, which makes the diagnosis of a magnesium deficiency challenging. Adults who are at risk for deficiency may consider magnesium supplementation, and should speak with a medical professional about the best treatment plan for their needs.

Magnesium is better absorbed from food than in the form of oral supplements. The gastric acids in the stomach, combined with diets rich in animal proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamin B6, and vitamin D, facilitate the absorption of magnesium. Absorption is also improved when magnesium is supplied in small amounts, being spread over several meals. Therefore, eating balanced meals and incorporating good sources of magnesium into your diet throughout the day may help improve your overall magnesium status! 


Thank you McKenzie Driscoll for putting this piece together!

McKenzie is a dietetics intern at University of Florida, volunteering her time.

We are so thankful for her! If you are in the Atlanta, GA area....look out for her soon!


In happy healthy magnesium stores, 

Analisa Jahna, N.D.



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