The magic of magnesium

It’s an essential mineral when it comes to all-round health, so how do you know if you’re getting enough?

If you like to snack on almonds, follow Popeye’s lead and eat plenty of spinach, and you eat whole grain breads and cereals, you are more than likely topping up your magnesium level every day.

Magnesium is vital for general health.

It plays a role in our body’s growth and repair and helps muscle and nerve function, helps build strong bones, and it keeps our immune system ticking over.

Signs you’re not getting enough magnesium

If you eat a balanced diet, you should get enough magnesium each day.

It will take quite a while for magnesium levels to be depleted to a point where you develop symptoms, but these can include muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, nausea and appetite loss.

Headaches and high blood pressure can also be a sign of low magnesium, says dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Maria Packard.

People with gastrointestinal problems, such as coeliac disease, people with type 2 diabetes and the elderly can sometimes find their magnesium levels fall.

Some medications, such as some antibiotics and antacids, can also inhibit how well your body absorbs magnesium.


How much magnesium do you need?

“Adult women need between 310 to 320 milligrams of magnesium daily, while men need 400 to 420 milligrams,” Maria says.

Teenagers also need a healthy dose of daily magnesium – teenage boys need 410 milligrams and teenage girls need around 360 milligrams.

This is because the teen years are a key growth period for the body, with growing muscles, nerves and bones hungry for this important nutrient.

If your GP suspects you are low on magnesium, a simple blood test will show up any deficiency.

How to get more magnesium in your diet

“Leafy green vegetables, wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds are good sources. Magnesium is also found in meat, salmon and tofu,” Maria says.

“If you can’t meet magnesium requirements from your food intake then a supplement may be recommended. But, for most people, a balanced diet will provide enough.”

Magnesium-rich foods

Here are some foods that pack a healthy magnesium punch:

  • Spinach: One cup boiled spinach has 157mg
  • Quinoa: One cup cooked quinoa has 118mg
  • Avocado: One avocado has 58mg
  • Black beans: One cup has 120mg
  • Nuts: 28g of almonds has 80mg and cashews have 74mg
  • Peanut butter: 2 tbsp has 50mg
  • Dark chocolate: 28g has 64mg
  • Brown rice: 100g has 44mg
  • Tofu: 100g has 53mg

Written by Sarah Marinos.