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foods high in magnesium

Every cell of the body needs this essential mineral for hundreds of biochemical reactions, including energy production. For example, the molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the main source of cellular energy, but it must be attached to magnesium to be active.

Research shows that magnesium deficiency exacerbates inflammation, which can set the stage for cancer, stroke, and even type 2 diabetes (studies show that magnesium may help improve the sensitivity of our cells to insulin, thereby helping drive down blood-sugar levels).

Reasons For Magnesium Deficiency: 

Magnesium is predominantly found in plant-based whole foods, and unfortunately most folks are eating a diet heavy in processed foods. On top of this, says Gaby, many people deplete their magnesium stores through chronic stress and the use of certain prescription medications.

More than half of all Americans are not consuming the minimum recommended amount of magnesium (400 to 420 milligrams daily for men; 310 to 320 milligrams daily for women). And, according to nutrition expert Alan Gaby, MD, there may be great benefits to exceeding the minimum.

What Foods Contain Magnesium?

Legumes, whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice, dark leafy greens, seeds, and nuts are all good sources of magnesium. Gaby also prescribes a daily magnesium supplement (ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams) to ameliorate any symptoms or health conditions associated with a deficiency. (For more on this critical nutrient, see “Magnesium: Your Body’s Spark Plug“.)

This was excerpted from “5 Critical Nutrients and What Happens to Your Body When They’re Missing.”

Photography by: Andrea Bricco; Food Styling by: Alicia Buszczak
Matthew Kadey

Matthew Kadey MSc, RD, is a dietitian and food and nutrition writer.

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