Like most health-conscious people, you probably make sure your diet is high in antioxidants, fiber and lean protein. But sometimes the seemingly minor minerals get left out in the cold — including magnesium. Fortunately, it’s not hard to add magnesium-rich foods to your daily diet.

The Role Magnesium Plays in Good Health

Photo by loli Clement

Magnesium is to helping your body retain other minerals — including Vitamin D, which in warmer months we absorb through sunlight, but becomes more elusive in winter. In turn, vitamin D and magnesium facilitate calcium absorption.

Along with reducing risk for osteoporosis, adequate magnesium is also believed to decrease incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and frequent migraines.

How Much Do You Need?

Adult women need about 310 to 320 mg of magnesium in their daily diets, and up to 400 during pregnancy and lactation. Men need even more — about 400 to 420 mg each day. (The need increases with age, for both males and females.)

In cases of severe deficiency, doctors may recommend taking an individual  magnesium supplement, or a multivitamin that contains the mineral.

Adding Magnesium to Your Diet

Nuts, legumes, whole grains and leafy greens are all high in magnesium, with spinach and almonds providing about 20 percent of an average adult’s daily recommended intake.

Other ingredients to consider adding to your meal plan? Cashews, peanuts and peanut butter all offer at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount, as do black beans, soy milk, potatoes and fortified cereals. Also providing at least 10 percent of your daily magnesium are whole grain bread, bananas, avocados and rice.

Photo by
Lex Sirikiat

If you’re looking to simplify meal prep without sacrificing nutrients, many classic “one pot dinners” are packed with fiber, protein, and other nutrients, including magnesium. Cook up a spicy stew containing beans, rice and spinach, garnish it with a diced avocado, and you’ll have created a meal super-high in magnesium.

A “potato bar” is also a great way to focus on the underappreciated nutrient. Potatoes themselves are magnesium-dense, and make great “bowls” for other toppings high in the mineral, like plain yogurt, steamed Swiss chard, shredded chicken, ground beef or cubed salmon. For crunch, sprinkle with pumpkin or sunflower seeds — both magnesium powerhouses.