Think guzzling down calcium is all it takes to get strong bones? Hang on a sec. Bone health requires a few additional key nutrients, like vitamin D and magnesium. Without these two (and a handful of others), calcium just wouldn’t be effective enough on its own. In other words, magnesium is mega important. It may fly a little under the radar as far as dietary minerals go, but magnesium plays a crucial role in bone development, as well as many other bodily functions.
Magnesium assists with regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health. This makes magnesium valuable in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Magnesium also helps your body make protein.
If your body doesn’t get enough magnesium over a long period of time, you may start to notice some magnesium deficiency symptoms: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Unfortunately, this affects some groups more than others. Those with celiac disease, kidney disease, or alcoholism do not absorb magnesium as well, which can cause magnesium deficiency.
For optimal health, aim to the recommended amount of magnesium in your daily diet. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for women under 30 is 310 mg of magnesium per day, which bumps up to 320 mg after age 30. Pregnant? You’ll need around 350 mg of magnesium a day to provide the best nutrition for the upcoming addition to your family. Men under 30 years of age need 400 mg of magnesium daily; men over 30 need 420 mg of magnesium.
As you’ll see in the list below, eating a variety of whole foods, including leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and beans can ensure you bone up on magnesium. Here are the top food sources of magnesium to add to your diet.
Cooked spinach: 157 mg of magnesium in 1 cup
Roasted pumpkin seeds: 162 mg of magnesium in ¼ cup
Cooked swiss chard: 150 mg of magnesium in 1 cup
Brazil nuts: 125 mg of magnesium in ¼ cup
Raw oats: 105 mg of magnesium in ½ cup
Russet potatoes: 90 mg of magnesium in 1 large potato
Acorn squash: 88 mg of magnesium in 1 cup baked cubes
Raw almonds: 80 mg of magnesium in ¼ cup
Cooked kale: 74 mg of magnesium in 1 cup
Lima beans: 63 mg of magnesium in ½ cup