Magnesium: Why You Need It & How to Get It

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

If there’s one nutrient we’ve all been hearing a lot more of lately, it’s magnesium. And there’s a reason for that. Find out why this nutrient is so important and how you can get more of it.

We Need Magnesium For:

  • Energy production from carbohydrates (plants and grains) and fats (nuts and seeds, oils, avocado)
  • Antioxidant production; glutathione, that helps to fight and repair naturally-occurring damage that happens within our bodies
  • Hydration; magnesium plays an important role in getting key electrolytes into muscles and tissues that are important for proper hydration
  • Muscle contraction; magnesium plays a role moving important electrolytes (calcium and potassium) that are key in sending nerve impulses for muscle contraction- including maintaining heart rhythm
  • Regulate calcium levels within the blood (calcium is important for muscle contraction as well as bone health)
  • Bone health; magnesium plays an important role in building bone
  • Wound healing
  • Sleep regulation; people who don’t get enough magnesium may find they experience disrupted sleep
  • Insulin sensitivity, which means that the tissues in the body respond better to insulin, a hormone that acts to remove sugar from the blood (with type 2 diabetes the tissues become very insensitive and unresponsive to insulin- causing higher blood sugar levels)

Recent studies have found that we also might need magnesium for:

  • Aiding depression as it may help to raise serotonin levels – the “feel happy” hormone
  • Improving insulin sensitivity that may help to improve blood glucose control in people with pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • Soothing pain and soreness in fibromyalgia (research is preliminary and more studies are needed)
  • Helping reduce risk for high blood pressure and heart disease
  • Improving migraine headaches
  • Improving insomnia related to Restless Leg Syndrome

…I think it’s safe to say that magnesium plays an important role in the body!

So, how much magnesium do you need?
The recommended intake for magnesium on a daily basis is 410-420 mg/day for men and 310-320 mg/day for women. With processed food consumption on the rise, many people are not getting enough from their diet because processed foods do not contain adequate amounts of magnesium.

Where can you get magnesium?
Fruits & Vegetables

  • Dark leafy greens (Spinach has 157 mg in 1 cup cooked)
  • Parsnips: 45 mg per 1 cup
  • Squash: 43 mg per 1 cup cooked summer squash
  • Potatoes: 57 mg per 1 baked potato
  • Tomatoes: 58 mg per 1 cup canned
  • Banana: 40 mg per 1 cup

 Unrefined Whole Grains

  • Barley: 158 mg per 1 cup uncooked
  • Bulgur: 230 mg per 1 cup uncooked
  • Oats: 63 mg per 1 cup cooked

Beans & Legumes

  • Black beans: 120 mg per 1 cup boiled
  • Chickpeas: 80 mg per 1 cup boiled
  • Lentils: 70 mg per 1 cup boiled
  • Peanuts: 50 mg per 1 ounce

Nuts & Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds: 98 mg per 1 cup
  • Almonds: 80 mg per 1 ounce
  • Cashews: 75 mg per 1 ounce 

Animal Protein

  • Halibut: 90 mg per 3 oz cooked

Now that you know everything about magnesium, it’s time to start getting more of it!

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Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Isabel is a Registered Dietitian, wellness expert and fitness coach. Isabel has her own nutrition and wellness practice based in New York City, Isabel Smith Nutrition, but she works with clients and corporations both nationwide and worldwide in a variety of areas including skin health, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues and allergies, sports nutrition, general wellness and more. As a Guided Reboot coach, Isabel has helped hundreds juice their way to better health. When she isn’t helping clients achieve optimal nutrition and wellness, she can be found trying and creating new juices and making other healthy recipes, running, cooking, spinning, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her two Yorkshire terriers. Isabel is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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