A Mighty Mineral: How to Get More Magnesium (Plus, 5 Recipes to Try)

by | Updated: March 30th, 2017 | Read time: 4 minutes

We drink orange juice with the hope of bolstering our immune system and snack on raisins to enhance our fiber intake. But how many of us deliberately aim to include more foods with magnesium in our diets?

Few it would seem, should you take a glance at the numbers: An estimated 80% of American adults are not getting enough of this essential mineral, which regulates everything from energy production to enzyme activity.

Woman Holding Bunch of Magnesium-Rich Leafy Green Spinach | Vitacost.com/blog

Consider the statistics a shame. Magnesium—the second most abundant element in the body—regulates over 300 biochemical functions (you heard me right), including fat breakdown, heart health, muscle contractions, blood coagulation, and stress. Indeed, magnesium is so powerful and necessary that it’s frequently referred to as a “miracle mineral” by many physicians and integrative practitioners. And while some people may turn to magnesium for the potential help it can offer in naturally supporting digestion (milk of magnesia, anyone?), on the whole it’s largely—and rather tragically—overlooked.

You can be the exception to the rule by mindfully increasing your magnesium consumption. Here’s how:

Learn its benefits

Being the results-driven, self-motivated human beings that we are (hello, Sketchers Shape Ups and FitBits!), simply knowing what bodily functions are organically supported by magnesium may convince you to start seeking out this mineral with a bit more diligence.

So, consider this: Recent research reveals that we have 3,751 magnesium binding sites in our body. Translation? The benefits of magnesium are immense. It can naturally support hormone health, and a brighter, clearer complexion, and it’s been associated with activating Vitamin D in the kidneys, which can organically support bone health. Additionally, magnesium naturally supports energy levels. (And who wouldn’t want more swagger to their step?)*                                                                

Know your numbers

Whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, a teenager or a coed, it can be helpful to understand just how much of this fundamental mineral you need.

According to the National Institutes of Health, males between the ages of 31 and 50 should receive 420 mg per day, women in this age group should endeavor to get 360 mg each day, and nursing mamas should aim for 320 mg. (For more on RDAs for specific age groups, go here.)

Get savvy

With your diet, that is: Making adjustments to your diet, both big and small, is one of the smartest and most effective ways to ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of magnesium. Replacing your afternoon bag of pita chips for an ounce of almonds will give you 20% of your recommended daily average. Swapping your coffee with cream for a soymilk latte will grant you another 15% of your RDA. And trading that dish of mac and cheese for a side of steamed spinach will give you an excellent 78 mg—or 20%—of this mighty mineral.

Other top foods with magnesium? Cashews, peanuts, edamame, salmon, flaxseeds, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes. (Because we all need an excuse to dive into a plate of potatoes au gratin, don’t we?)

Tie one on

As in an apron, mind you: Pulling together a magnesium-rich snack or meal is a cinch with these super-easy (and ultra-delicious) recipes:

1. Sunrise parfait

Pair plain yogurt with dry, roasted, unsalted almonds, sliced bananas, and dried figs. Do double duty by adding a teaspoon or two of raw honey—an awesome antioxidant that has the potential to naturally support sleep, digestion and skin health.

2. South of the border salad

Lean chicken breast is jam packed with magnificent magnesium—as in 22 mg per serving—and tastes fresh and fabulous on top of a bed of spinach. Add magnesium-rich black beans for fiber and more flavor, and crown it all off with a lime-kefir dressing, a handful of pumpkin seeds (which provide 84 mg of magnesium per half cup!, diced red onion, cilantro, and sliced avocado.

3. Grilled halibut with brown rice and broccoli

Sound mundane? Think again. Halibut tastes superb when grilled with a tangy, yogurt-based lemon-garlic dressing. Steam brown rice and broccoli and serve the latter with a few shavings of parmesan cheese.

4. Squash with dates and thyme

A mere cup of squash supplies a whopping 40 mg of magnesium—and tastes amazing when cooked with care. Bake acorn squash with thyme, olive oil, and a dash of coconut milk until tender (about 40 to 45 minutes). Add pitted dates (cut to your fancy) and bake for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and swoon.

5. Baked artichoke

Artichokes might taste terrific simmering in a cauldron of spinach and cheese, but they’re even better—and far healthier—steamed whole and dunked into a parsley, lemon and white wine dip. Add chicken broth for richness and crushed garlic for extra zest. Bonus points: A medium artichoke offers 77 mg of magnesium and is, well, choke-full of phytonutrients.

Augment with supplements

Interested in inviting more magnesium into your diet? Good call: After all, soil depletion in some current farming practices may put you and your family at risk of not getting enough of this key mineral. A number of magnesium supplements are available, including magnesium chelate, magnesium citrate and magnesium threonate.

Or go pro with this surfer snack: Couple a chilled banana with a few bites of quality dark chocolate. A single square carries a choice 95 milligrams of magnesium, while a medium banana will nourish you with 8% of your RDA. With its potential to naturally support calmer nerves and greater vitality, you’ll be ready for any wave, inside and out of the water. And tell me: What could be more miraculous than that?