Magnesium in Our Diet

green cabbageOur bodies cannot store magnesium; we need a constant supply of this crucial mineral in our daily diet. But even if your diet is high in foods containing magnesium, you may not be absorbing enough if you have digestive problems.  Magnesium levels may be low in those suffering from illness, digestive or malabsorption problems, in alcoholics and in those who consume a diet consisting of refined foods, sugary foods, junk or take-away foods.

A diet high in dairy and low in whole grains can lead to to excess calcium in the tissues and a magnesium deficiency. If you are experiencing cramping, your diet may be high in foods such as cheese, milk or yoghurt. Modify your diet to include mainly magnesium rich foods (see chart below).Our western diet has changed considerably over the past 50 years and a large amount of the food we consume is refined or grown in poor quality soil. Because of this the magnesium content is reduced. For instance wheat, which contains large amounts of magnesium before processing, is stripped to the point that there is little magnesium left — white flour has had up to 85% of its magnesium content removed. Before the grain is milled into flour, the wheat berries contain dozens of minerals and micro-minerals (if grown in rich soil). The milling process produces de-vitalised white flour, which is common in breads, pastries and pasta. Magnesium (and other important nutrients) is also lost through the refining process of foods such as brown rice, which after processing becomes ‘white’ leaving little of its original nutrients.

Junk food, take-away food or processed food, contain little or no magnesium. If your diet consists mainly of these foods and you have a high sugar intake, drink tea, coffee and alcohol on a daily basis or eat little or no fresh fruits and vegetables, you may be magnesium deficient.

Foods highest in magnesium are leafy vegetables, nuts (particularly almonds and cashews), whole grains, seafood, and legumes (including tofu). Eat more of these, whilst reducing sugar and alcohol, which increase magnesium excretion.

Eating a diet high in magnesium rich foods, taking oral magnesium supplements; applying magnesium chloride oil to your body or soaking in a bath containing magnesium oil or magnesium chloride flakes, may help boost levels of this important mineral.

To increase your dietary intake of magnesium incorporate the following foods:

  • All leafy green vegetables (kale is a potent source of anti-oxidants and contains high levels of magnesium). Nettles are also high in magnesium — also beetroot, carrot, celery, asparagus, cucumber, lettuce
  • Fruits – paw paw, pineapple, bananas, avocado, apricots, cherries, figs, lemons, peaches, pomegranates
  • All sea vegetables, including kelp, dulse, wakame, arame, hijaki
  • Sprouts : alfalfa
  • Almond milk
  • Herbs – parsley, coriander, dandelion, mint
  • Nuts – almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts
  • Seeds – pumpkin, black sesame
  • Unprocessed organic rye (sprouted grains or flour), millet, quinoa, brown rice (soak these overnight and rinse to remove the phytic acid — a magnesium antagonist)
  • Legumes – lentils, peas, beans, fermented and aged tofu

Only use a good quality unprocessed sea salt, high in magnesium
Note: animal protein contains little or no magnesium

Plants need magnesium to form chlorophyll — the substance that makes plants green, so incorporate as many leafy green vegetables into your diet as possible. Read ‘A is for Apples‘ to see the fruits and vegetables that contain magnesium.

Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N. author of ‘Lower Your Blood Pressure in Eight Weeks’ writes … “More than seventy-five years ago, medical scientists declared magnesium to be an essential nutrient, indispensable to life”. The magnesium content in soil has decreased over the years in many areas, which in effect makes the food grown in this soil low in magnesium.

Your diet should also include a wide variety of vegetables and other foods to include other essential minerals, enzymes (read ‘The role enzymes play in keeping us healthy‘) amino acids, vitamins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients.

If you are allergic to any of the above foods or suffer from symptoms such as bloating, gas or irregular bowel movements, enzymes levels may be low in your body and you may not be absorbing enough magnesium from the food you eat.

To read more about magnesium, deficiency symptoms and more, click here to read ‘Magnesium a Vital Mineral‘.

This page is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult a registered nutritionist, dietician or other healthcare professional is you are suffering from ill health or need dietary advice.

Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N. author of ‘Lower Your Blood Pressure in Eight Weeks
Dr. Carolyn Dean ‘The Magnesium Miracle’