Magnesium Matters

Over 50% of Australians are headed for chronic health problems, all related to a single mineral deficiency. Let’s change that!

Our standard diet, while rich in calories, is lacking in fibre and an assortment of nutrients, especially magnesium. Preventable chronic health problems, related to magnesium deficiency alone, range from insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes), heart disease and high blood pressure, to migraines, osteoporosis [2] and inflammatory bowel disease [3]. These problems don’t happen over-night. They’re happening now, gradually, due to life-long eating patterns, distorted dietary information and the comfort of cultural norms. It is so normal, that another Australian is diagnosed with diabetes every 5 minutes.

Familiar indications of magnesium deficiency include agitation, confusion, anxiety, irritability, restless leg syndrome, muscle spasms and weakness, sleeping problems and cardiac arrhythmias [3]. These seemingly unrelated symptoms are due to magnesium’s involvement in well over 300 vital functions in the body [4].

Due to the radical shift towards mass farming and refined and processed food, the average daily diet today is expected to contain 150-230mg, close to half the recommended intake of 320mg/day for women aged over 30 [5] [6]. Foods that make up the bulk of the typical Western diet are relatively low in magnesium, i.e., white flour (in bread and pasta), white rice, sugar, milk and cheddar cheese, and the same can be said for most meats and fruits [6] [1].

So which foods are high in magnesium?
You may remember from high-school science classes that magnesium sits in the centre of the chlorophyll molecule, the photosynthesising agent in plants, responsible for their green colour [7]. Not surprisingly then, green leafy vegetables and seaweeds are rich sources of magnesium. Seeds, nuts and wholegrains are also rich sources.

  • English spinach has been found to contain 87mg/100g of magnesium with around 156mg in a cooked, one cup serving.
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels) have as much as 535mg /100g
  • Linseeds, wheat bran, caviar and sunflower seeds have 390-325mg/100g
  • Oat bran has approximately 225mg/100g
  • Almonds, Brazil nuts and quality dark chocolate have between 180-145mg/100g.
  • Most legumes, including baked beans and edamame have between 110-135mg/100g [1]
  • Other less dense sources that tend, like leafy greens, to be eaten in larger portion sizes are fish, prickly-pears, dried figs, raw artichokes, avocados and bananas.

It is easy to make some changes to your shopping habits and diet to ensure you are eating magnesium rich foods every day. Try starting your day with a bowl of premium muesli, and choose a lunch abundant in leafy greens. By dinner time, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your daily magnesium needs and keeping well now and in the future.

For more information on additional sources of magnesium, see future blog posts Mineral Water, Transdermal Magnesium, and Magnesium under the Microscope. You may also find a helpful resource for learning more about the mineral content in foods.

Photo credit: CAJC: in the PNW on Visualhunt

  1. Bodyventures. Magnesium. Diet and Fitness Today n.d.; Available from:
  2. Supplements), N.-I.-o.-H.-O.o.D. Magnesium fact sheet for health professionals. 2016 11 February 2016 [cited 2017 27 March]; Available from: HealthProfessional/ .
  3. Longmore, B., Magnesium – the quiet ubiquity, in Australian Pharmacist. 2016, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. . p. 38-41.
  4. Higdon, J., V. Drake, and B. Delage. Magnesium. 2001 October 2013 [cited 2017 27 March]; Available from:
  5. Nutritional-Magnesium. Magnesium Health Overview. 2012 [cited 2017 28 March]; Available from:
  6. Nica, A.S., et al., Magnesium supplementation in top athletes-effects and recommendations. Medicina Sportiva: Journal of Romanian Sports Medicine Society, 2015. 11(1): p. 2482.
  7. Guo, W., et al., Magnesium deficiency in plants: An urgent problem. The Crop Journal, 2016. 4(2): p. 83-91.

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