What Is Magnesium? Top 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium plays a central role in just about every bodily process, from the synthesis of DNA to the metabolism of insulin. Low levels of this crucial mineral have even been tied to an entire laundry list of chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease. It goes without saying that no nutritious diet can really ever be complete without a few servings of magnesium-rich foods.

Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious options to help you meet your daily needs and prevent magnesium deficiency. There’s a good amount of this mineral in superfoods like avocado, almonds and figs, plus several other nutritious foods as well.

Despite the widespread availability of magnesium in the diet, the World Health Organization reported that less than 60 percent of adults in the United States are meeting the adequate intake values.

So what is the best source of magnesium, and how can you ensure you’re getting enough in your diet? Here’s what you need to know about this important nutrient and its impact on your health — and the top magnesium-rich foods.

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an element and mineral found throughout nature and one of the body’s electrolytes. In the body, it is the fourth most abundant mineral and a cofactor to over 300 enzyme systems, affecting muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation and more.

About 99 percent of your body’s total magnesium is stored in your bones, muscles and soft tissues while only about 1 percent is concentrated in the blood. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with a number of conditions and diseases, including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, migraines, hypertension, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and heart disease.

Unfortunately, it’s possible to have a magnesium deficiency even with a healthy diet. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you’re eating plenty of magnesium foods and getting enough of this vital mineral to maintain optimal health.

Some of the best sources of dietary magnesium are leafy greens, such as spinach of chard, but there are plenty of other foods with magnesium as well. There are even magnesium fertilizers that have been tested to increase the availability of the mineral in soils, potentially helping foods with magnesium absorption.

Additionally, magnesium supplements, such as magnesium citrate, and magnesium oil are also available for those who may have a more severe magnesium deficiency.

Transdermal magnesium supplementation is another way to utilize the mineral, though research is limited on its effectiveness. What is transdermal magnesium? It’s applying the mineral in the form of magnesium chloride topically to help absorb the mineral into the skin. Another potential way to utilize transdermal magnesium supplementation is through epsom salt (a magnesium sulfate compound) soaks or baths. Again, though, more research is needed on the effectiveness of magnesium absorption through these methods.


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