spotlight on magnesium

Spotlight on Magnesium

We often hear about magnesium as an important nutrient to include in our diets. But why is it so important and how can we make sure that we’re getting enough of it? This spotlight on magnesium will give you the low-down on everything you need to know, plus includes some healthy recipes to help you get started!

What is the role of magnesium in the body?

Magnesium has several jobs in the body, including:

  • Energy production
  • DNA and protein synthesis
  • Membrane structure
  • Nerve conduction
  • Regulating hormones to do with stress, blood sugars
  • Cholesterol balance
  • Muscle relaxation and contraction
  • Working with vitamin D for healthy bones
  • Lowering blood pressure

Magnesium is a key component in approximately 80% of the metabolic functions in the body. Therefore, chronic inadequate magnesium intake can lead to several cardiovascular disease outcomes such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, stroke, arrhythmia, A Fib, and high cholesterol. It can also lead to migraines and sleeplessness, as well as other central nervous system, respiratory, musculoskeletal, digestive and immune disorders, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. In fact, there are studies to show that diets with the most amount of magnesium may lower diabetes risk by 15-27%, along with strokes and developing heart failure.

Unfortunately in Canada, well over 40% of adults do not reach the estimated average requirement for magnesium. Furthermore, requirements increase when we are under stress, are ill or undergo medical procedures, consume alcohol, suffer from psychological problems, are highly active, and are taking certain drugs.

So how much magnesium do you need?

According to the Institute of Medicine, the following table highlights how much is needed to prevent deficiency. However, further studies conclude that we may need much more for chronic disease prevention.

Age Males (mg/day) Females (mg/day) Tolerable Upper Limit through supplementation (mg/day)
19-30 years 400 310 350
31 years and older 420 320

Where can I get magnesium in my diet?

Here are a few foods that contain exceptional amounts of magnesium. However, keep in mind that most legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables can also be a source, so just make sure you are getting enough.

Food Serving Size Magnesium Content (mg)
Pumpkin Seeds, without shell ¼ cup 317
Hemp Hearts 3 Tbsp 200
Brazil Nuts ¼ cup 133
Black-Eyed Peas, cooked ¾ cup 121
Quinoa, cooked ¾ cup 118
Tempeh ¾ cup 116
Sunflower Seed Butter 2 Tbsp 101
Soy nuts ¼ cup 99
Toasted Wheat Germ ¼ cup 96
Salmon, Chinook, cooked 2.5oz (75g) 92
Almonds, Cashews ¼ cup ~ 90
Spinach, Swiss Chard, cooked ½ cup 82
Oats, unprocessed, dry ¼ cup 69

How can I incorporate these foods into my diet?

Here are a number of recipes to try that will easily help you bump up your magnesium intake:

If you’re unsure whether your getting enough magnesium in your diet, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Registered Dietitian who will be able to help guide you on the right path!