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Why You Need More Magnesium in Your Diet

Two out of three people don't get enough magnesium in their diet. Here's why this matters and how to fix it. 

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
3-minute read
Episode #374

The foods that are rich in magnesium are high in lots of other nutrients, as well. Including more of these foods in your diet will improve your overall nutrition, not just your magnesium status. So rather than just pop a nutritional supplement, increasing our consumption of whole foods is by far the best way to increase magnesium intake.

The Best Sources of Magnesium

Green vegetables are great sources of dietary magnesium because this mineral is part of the chlorophyll molecule that gives plants their green color. If you are eating the recommended five servings of vegetables a day, that's a third of your requirement right there. Vegetables that are particularly high in magnesium include broccoli, Swiss chard, and green beans. 

Magnesium is also naturally present in whole grains but it's one of the nutrients that gets stripped away when grains are refined. A cup of brown rice, for example, supplies a quarter of of your daily requirement. A cup of white rice provides only about 2% of your daily needs. Bran cereals are also particularly good sources of magnesium.

Nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium, as well. Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds are particularly good sources. But, on average, you can count on getting about 20% of your daily magnesium requirement from a one-ounce serving of any nut or seed.

Legumes, such as lentils, soybeans, lima beans, and all kinds of dried beans, are all good magnesium sources, providing about 20% of your daily needs per serving.

5 Tips for Increasing Your Magnesium Intake

The goal is to get at least 400 mg of magnesium per day. Right now, adults typically get 250 to 300. Simply shifting your diet away from processed foods and towards more whole and minimally processed foods is going to have a positive impact on your magnesium intake (as well as your overall nutrition.) Keep reading for a few ideas:

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About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.