Nearly 61% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of magnesium, especially those over the age of 50. It was most recently flagged as a nutrient of concern by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines committee.
You may not be suffering from any acute symptoms of magnesium deficiency, but you could be missing out on important disease preventative benefits. A diet rich in magnesium will help you build and maintain stronger bones, keep blood pressure down subsequently reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It also helps our bodies convert food into energy. Additionally, recent studies have found that magnesium can play a role in easing symptoms of depression and anxiety (I can attest to the truth of this study. I now drink Natural Calm with Magnesium every evening and have benefited with better sleep and a more level mood).
Magnesium is also found in a wide variety of whole foods; if you are in eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Our epidemic for magnesium deficiency is a marker of the diets we fill with processed foods. The foods that are high in magnesium are also rich in other nutrients, will improve your overall health and nutrition, not just your magnesium status. Rather than popping a nutritional supplement eating more whole foods is a far better way to absorb the nutrient more efficiently as well as allow our bodies to benefit from the rewards of eating a whole food diet.
Foods that are rich in magnesium are dark leafy greens such as; kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, etc… This is because magnesium is part of the chlorophyll molecule that gives plants their green color. If you’re eating the recommend five servings of vegetables a day that’s one third of your daily requirement. Think of the incorporation of one big salad a day and you’ve met those recommendations, add on some nuts or seeds and you have an even higher benefit.
Magnesium is also naturally present it whole grains but it is also one the nutrients that gets stripped away in processed grains, for example a cup of brown rice contains a quarter of your daily requirements, but a cup of white rice has only about 2% of your daily needs. Switching to whole grains will add to your daily requirement easily and better yet look for sprouted grains.
Nuts and Seeds are also high in magnesium, especially Brazil Nuts and Pumpkin Seeds. On average you can count on getting 20% of your daily magnesium requirements from any one ounce serving of nuts or seeds. Legumes such as; lentils, lima beans and other dried beans are great magnesium sources, also containing about 20% of your daily needs per serving. Add peanut butter or other nut butters to your morning oatmeal or on apple slices. Instead of a processed snack, munch on edamame instead with a sprinkle of salt or other tasty spice.
The goal on average is to get at least 400 milligrams of magnesium a day, currently adults are getting only 250-300 a day. Shifting your diet away from processed foods and towards whole foods will have a positive impact on your magnesium levels as well as overall nutrition. Please don’t get the wrong impression that you must obsess over your intake of magnesium with every bite you eat, rather enjoy more whole foods and that nutrient will be more easily fulfilled.