Magnesium is a mineral that plays a large role in the body. In fact, over 300 chemical reactions rely on it to work. For instance, sufficient magnesium levels contribute to keeping a steady heart rate, balancing blood sugar levels, maintaining cartilage, and sending messages through the nervous system. It also aids the production of DNA, bones, and protein. But the body can’t produce this mineral on its own, so it’s important to eat a diet rich in magnesium-filled foods. Fortunately, there are many items to choose from, including vegetables, grains, and fish.
The Importance of Magnesium in the Diet
Because magnesium is so crucial for the body, it comes with numerous health benefits. For example, some studies show that people who consume more magnesium in their diets may have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease. (However, more research is needed to confirm if this effect was due to magnesium or another nutrient.)
Research has also connected the mineral to good bone health. People who consume more magnesium tend to have higher rates of bone mineral density, which can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Additionally, studies have shown that people with migraines occasionally have lower levels of magnesium in their body. Small follow-up studies found that supplements can help make migraines occur less frequently, although more research is needed to understand magnesium’s potential against migraines. It may also help with asthma attacks since this mineral can help relax muscle spasms. 
As a general rule, adult men should consume 400–420 milligrams of magnesium daily, and women need 310 milligrams daily, or 350 if pregnant. Although it’s rare to have a deficiency, many Americans don’t consume as much as they should, only about 66% of their recommended amounts, and certain subgroups have been should to be up to 80% deficient. This could be from eating a diet high in processed food. Being aware of which foods are naturally packed with this mineral could help ensure you are getting all your body needs. 
Read: 16 Signs of Copper Overload
Foods Rich in Magnesium
- Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard
- Nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, and cashews
- Legumes like chickpeas, black beans, peanuts, and black-eyed peas
- Fish like salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, and Atlantic mackerel
- Tofu, soy nuts, and edamame
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
- Dark chocolate 
- Greek yogurt
- Whole grains like oats, buckwheat, quinoa, and brown rice
- Prickly pears
- Chicken breast 
Read: Calcium Supplements: Should You Take Them?
Should you take supplements?
The kidneys filter out excess magnesium in the body, so it’s rare for people to experience adverse effects from eating too many foods with this mineral. However, it is possible to consume too much by taking supplements. Don’t take more than the required dosage or what your healthcare practitioner recommends, since too much magnesium can lead to nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Extremely high amounts can cause an irregular heartbeat and even a heart attack. Therefore, it’s not generally recommended for people to take magnesium supplements if they have kidney failure, heart block, bowel obstruction, and myasthenia gravis, unless otherwise recommended by their doctors.
Additionally, there are certain conditions that can cause chronic magnesium deficiency, including type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, chronic diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. Deficiency often leads to symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. The recommended dosage of magnesium varies depending on each person. Food is always the best source for vitamins and minerals, but people could discuss with their healthcare practitioner whether taking supplements would benefit them and what dosage is safe. 
A supplement may be useful for generally healthy people who fall short of getting their daily magnesium from food. For more information on magnesium supplementation, check out this article:
- “Magnesium and Your Health.” WebMD. Danny Bonvissuto. December 17, 2022
- “Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” National Institute of Health. June 2, 2022
- “10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy.” Healthline. Franziska Spritzler. October 14, 2022
- “Magnesium Rich Food.” Cleveland Clinic. November 24, 2020
- “Ten foods high in magnesium.” Medical News Today. Rena Goldman. July 26, 2017