The importance of magnesium and how you can get more of it into your diet

There are three minerals; calcium, phosphorus and magnesium which account of 98% of the body’s mineral content by weight.

Magnesium is an important part of your bones and helps keep your muscles and nerves healthy. Every time your heart beats, a cell is created or you move a muscle, magnesium is being used. We can’t live without it.

Where is magnesium found?

Magnesium is found in many foods, mostly plant based. Some of the foods higher in magnesium include:

  • Wholegrains (brown rice, grainy bread, barley, wholegrain breakfast cereals)
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes (cooked, skin on)
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Fish

Meat and poultry contain very little magnesium. This is why it’s good to still keep up your plant based food intake including vegetables and a handful of nuts and/or seeds each day.

How much magnesium do we need?

Magnesium levels are most commonly measured with a blood test. In healthy adults, normal magnesium blood serum levels range from 0.75 – 0.95 millimol/L. The recommended dietary intake (RDI) for adults over 31 years per day according to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is 420 milligrams for males and 320 milligrams for females.

Tips to including magnesium into your day

  • Choose a wholegrain cereal for breakfast
  • Have a handful of seeds and nuts for a mid-afternoon snack
  • Leave the skin on potatoes when cooking
  • Include more legumes into your diet – add in a can of kidney beans into casseroles, curries, soups and pasta sauce, add a few spoonful’s of chickpeas or other beans to salads
  • Add a handful of fresh spinach into your salad or sandwich or with your fried eggs

What happens if I don’t get enough magnesium?

Low magnesium levels due to low dietary intake may contribute to several health challenges, including:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Mood changes
  • General fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Impaired cognitive function

If you include regular sources of magnesium into your diet you should be getting enough. If you have symptoms related to low magnesium speak to your health practitioner such as GP or Accredited practicing dietitian.