Foods with high magnesium and calcium content are very beneficial to health. Magnesium and calcium are minerals that provide a wide range of health benefits in the human body. Many studies have shown that magnesium and calcium help to keep your body functioning at its maximum level. Below are ten foods that contain high amounts of these two essential minerals.
10 Best Foods That Are High in Magnesium
Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal and mineral. It is needed by the human body in abundant amounts to perform a variety of key physiological functions such as energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, building DNA and RNA, glycolysis, protein synthesis, regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure, muscle contraction, bone development, maintaining normal heart rhythm, and nerve impulse conduction.
What Food Items Are High in Magnesium?
Here are some of the best dietary sources of magnesium:
1. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain up to 37% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium. They can help with heart health, blood sugar control, and blood pressure management, all possible benefits due to their high magnesium content.
Studies have observationally shown that low magnesium levels increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, more clinical trials are needed to prove this.
One cup of cooked spinach provides 39% of the RDA for magnesium. Magnesium is required for calcium absorption, and a lack of magnesium is a risk factor for low bone mineral density and possible fractures or osteoporosis in older women.
Spinach also contains a fair amount of calcium if it is cooked.
Almonds offer many benefits. Aside from being a super source of omega-3s, they also contain magnesium, up to 19% of the RDA. Almonds are also low glycemic, which makes them popular for aiding blood sugar control.
Magnesium may play a role in enhancing insulin sensitivity, as shown in one trial. The subjects had low magnesium levels and supplementation improved beta cell function.
Avocados contain 10% of your daily magnesium value in 1 cup. Although they are high in fat, much of that fat is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, both of which are heart-healthy fats and provide benefits for cardiovascular health.
A medium banana contains 8% of the daily value for magnesium and 10% of the recommended amount for potassium.
Magnesium plays an important role as it carries ions such as sodium and potassium into the cells. Without enough magnesium, these nutrients do not get into the cells, which can cause problems such as an irregular heartbeat.
6. Dark chocolate
In one 3.5-oz bar of dark chocolate, and by this we mean over 70% cacao content, you will find over 50% of the RDA for magnesium. This number would still be impressive even with a much smaller serving size.
One of the things dark chocolate does is induce blood flow and vessel relaxation. This is needed to lower blood pressure, one of the benefits of magnesium, as a recent analysis of randomized controlled trials found.
7. Black beans
Black beans contain magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, copper, and zinc. All of these minerals together help build bones and bone structure. A majority of magnesium is stored in bones.
It is important to get enough of these minerals in the diet so they are not released from the bone, which can lead to bone thinning.
You can derive 9% of your recommended daily amount of magnesium from ½ cup of tofu.
Tofu is soy based, which has been shown in a recent analysis of controlled trials to at least partially be associated with lowering cholesterol. Soy proteins are a great source of plant flavones, which could be partially responsible for this effect.
One cup of cooked oatmeal can provide 15% of the RDA for magnesium. Oatmeal is a heart-healthy food that can lower CVD risk.
Quinoa is a whole grain, and half a cup of cooked quinoa contains 15% of the RDA for magnesium. The bran, or outer layer of the plant, is where minerals such as magnesium are stored, and it is left intact in whole grains.
In addition to those already listed, low-fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt are good sources of magnesium, as well as other types of nuts such as cashews.
What Is the Function of Magnesium in the Body?
Magnesium has a very wide variety of functions in the body. Some of these include regulating blood sugar, assisting enzymes (which have innumerable types and functions in the body), regulating blood pressure, and aiding calcium absorption.
This mineral can also be used as a calming agent. A recent review of studies found magnesium had a positive effect on anxiety. It is important to note these studies are mostly subjective, and further research is needed to establish a definitive connection.
What Are the Symptoms of Low Magnesium Levels?
The kidneys help the body retain magnesium, so it is rare to be actually deficient in it. The risk factors for becoming so include age and gastrointestinal disorders.
Symptoms of a deficiency include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and weakness. These may progress to cramps, numbness in the hands or feet, and abnormal heartbeat if not addressed.
Because magnesium acts with calcium and potassium, their levels may also get low if magnesium is low.
What Is the Daily Requirement for Magnesium?
The RDA for magnesium varies according to age.
The recommended amount is 80–240 mg for children, 360 mg for adult females, and 320–400 mg a day for pregnant females depending on age. Adult males need 400–420 mg a day, with teen males at the high end and older males at the low end.
What Precautions Should Be Taken to Improve the Absorption of Magnesium in the Body?
Magnesium, calcium, and zinc interact with each other. It is recommended not to take calcium at the same time as magnesium to reduce the interaction.
In addition, it is advised to address low vitamin D levels and not take high-dose zinc supplements with it. All of these will affect the amount of magnesium absorbed.
Does Magnesium Have an Effect on Anxiety and Depression?
It has some effect, and there is some research-based evidence to back this claim. One study found magnesium to cause a subjective improvement in anxiety.
Some studies have noted that magnesium has an anti-inflammatory effect, may help with stress hormone release, and reduces the activity of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter and, if overstimulated, can cause anxiety. One other study noted a direct impact on depression.
The ideal way to meet your daily recommended intake of this magnesium is through food sources as they offer other vital nutrients and health benefits as well. Plus, magnesium can be retained in the body, so it is best to get it from food and not a supplement.
However, if you are unable to meet your required fill through dietary intake alone, you can consider taking a magnesium supplement which may be available as a powder or a capsule.
Note that overuse of magnesium supplements, especially in certain binders, such as magnesium oxide, can have a laxative effect. Only about 40% of magnesium ingested is absorbed when intake is typical, and this changes with the amount of intake.
Plus, magnesium supplements can adversely interact with certain medications, so it is important to consult your doctor before starting supplementation.
Magnesium is naturally present in a variety of foods, available as a supplement, and an ingredient in antacids and laxatives. The mineral plays an important role in assisting more than 300 enzymes to carry out various chemical reactions in the body such as building proteins and strong bones, and regulating blood sugar, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve functions. Magnesium also acts an electrical conductor that contracts muscles and makes the heart beat steadily.
More than half of the magnesium in our body is stored in bones, and the remaining in various tissues throughout the body.
RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19-51+ years is 400-420 mg daily for men and 310-320 mg for women. Pregnancy requires about 350-360 mg daily and lactation, 310-320 mg.
UL: The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for magnesium is 350 milligrams from supplements only. High-dose supplements can lead to diarrhea, nausea, and cramping in some people. Extra magnesium from food is safe because the kidneys will eliminate excess amounts in urine.
Magnesium and Health
Magnesium is a key factor in making several parts of the body run smoothly: the heart, bones, muscles, nerves, and others. Without enough magnesium, these areas malfunction. This is summarized in research, which finds that a magnesium deficiency or low magnesium diet leads to health problems. Although epidemiological studies show that higher magnesium diets are associated with lower rates of disease, results are mixed from clinical trials showing that magnesium supplementation can correct these conditions. It may be because a magnesium-rich diet is often higher in other nutrients, which collectively work together in disease prevention as opposed to a supplement containing a single nutrient.
For disease prevention, a good rule of thumb is to eat a daily diet that includes some magnesium-rich foods and take a supplement if directed by a physician to correct a deficiency if blood levels are low.Bone healthMigrainesDepressionCardiovascular disease (CVD)
Magnesium is found in plant foods like legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fortified cereals. It is also in fish, poultry, and beef.
- Almonds, peanuts, cashews
- Pumpkin seeds
- Peanut butter
- Beans (black, kidney)
- Soybeans, soymilk
- Cooked spinach, Swiss chard
- White potato with skin
- Brown rice
- Oatmeal (instant, whole oats)
- Dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- Milk, yogurt
A magnesium supplement may be prescribed if the body is having problems absorbing the nutrient. Over-the-counter magnesium supplements come in different forms; liquid types like magnesium citrate or chloride may be better absorbed than solid tablets like magnesium oxide and sulfate.
Magnesium can have a laxative effect at high doses; in fact, it is sold as a laxative in the form of magnesium hydroxide. Magnesium hydroxide is also an ingredient in some popular antacids to treat heartburn and upset stomach; it is important to be aware of the laxative effect when using magnesium hydroxide tablets for an upset stomach.
Signs of Deficiency and Toxicity
Although magnesium is naturally found in a variety of foods and some fortified foods, national dietary surveys show that most Americans of all ages eat less than recommended amounts.  However, these deficiency levels are marginal and not likely to produce symptoms. The body also helps to preserve magnesium levels when stores are low by limiting the amount excreted in urine and absorbing more magnesium in the gut.
A true deficiency occurs with a long-term low magnesium diet, malabsorption, and large losses from alcohol abuse or use of medications that deplete magnesium (some diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, and antibiotics).
- Signs of deficiency include:
- Fatigue, weakness
- Poor appetite
- Nausea, vomiting
- Numbness or tingling in skin
- Muscle cramps
- Abnormal heart rate
- Risk factors for deficiency include:
- Alcohol abuse. A long-term excessive intake of alcohol is associated with a poor diet low in magnesium, digestive upset that leads to malabsorption, and problems with various organs that can flush out too much magnesium through urine.
- Older ages. The elderly have lower magnesium intakes according to national dietary surveys. Aging also causes decreased absorption of magnesium in the gut and increased excretion in urine. Furthermore, older adults are more likely to be on medications for chronic diseases that can lower magnesium stores.
- Conditions with malabsorption. Diseases that interfere with digestion can lower the amount of magnesium absorbed. Most magnesium is absorbed in the largest segment of the small intestine, the ileum, which may be compromised in conditions like celiac and Crohn’s disease. Surgery that removes the ileum, which is sometimes needed with colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, further adds to a deficiency risk.
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Insulin resistance or uncontrolled diabetes can cause the kidneys to make extra urine to rid the body of high levels of blood sugar. This increased amount of urine may also flush out magnesium.
Toxicity is rare from food sources because the kidneys will remove excess magnesium in the urine. However toxic levels may occur with long-term use of high-dosage supplements. People with kidney disease have a higher risk of toxicity because their kidneys are not working properly and cannot flush out extra magnesium.
- Signs of toxicity include:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Low mood, depression
- Muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat
- Heart attack
Did You Know?
Magnesium supplements are a popular remedy for leg and foot cramps, a bothersome condition that may jolt you awake in the middle of the night or during exercise. A deficiency of magnesium can certainly cause muscle cramping, but these supplements are often used whether or not people know they are truly deficient.
Evidence so far does not support this treatment for muscle cramps. A Cochrane review of seven randomized controlled trials looking at the effects of magnesium supplements on muscle cramps did not find a significant difference in intensity or duration of cramps in people using the supplements versus a placebo for one month. Information was not available on the participants’ blood levels of magnesium at the start of the trials, so it is not known if the muscle cramps were related to a deficiency versus other factors.
Food With High Magnesium And Calcium
While many supplements are available, scientists recommend that at least half of your calcium intake should come from your diet.
These eight foods are some of the best sources of calcium available:
- Dairy products
Products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium and also tend to be the best absorbed sources of it. Calcium is not absorbed as well from plant and fortified foods.
Dry-roasted soybeans are a good source of calcium. A half-cup contains 230 mg of calcium, making them an excellent source of calcium for those who follow a vegan diet.
- Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables
Cooked kale, spinach, and collard greens are all good calcium sources. Collard greens having the highest amount: a half-cup provides 175 mg of calcium.
- Calcium-Fortified Foods
Orange juice and cereals are often fortified with calcium. Calcium citrate malate is a well-absorbed form found in some fortified juices. There are also fortified cereals that provide as much as 1,000 mg of calcium per serving.
- Canned Salmon
Aside from dairy products, canned salmon is one of the best dietary sources of calcium. Just 3 ounces of canned salmon provides 181 mg. Salmon also contains Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb more calcium.
Five dried or fresh figs provide your body with 135 mg of calcium. Papayas and oranges are two other fruits high in calcium.
- Flour Tortillas
Good news for carb lovers: one 10-inch flour tortilla provides you with 90 mg of calcium.
- Canned Baked Beans
Four ounces of canned baked beans contain 160 mg of calcium. Beans also contain a lot of fiber.
Food For Magnesium And Potassium
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a big role in making your body work right. More than 300 chemical reactions inside you depend on the mineral.
Without it, your muscles can’t move the way they’re supposed to. Your nerves won’t send and receive messages. Magnesium also keeps your heart rhythm steady, blood sugar levels balanced, and your joint cartilage healthy. It helps your body make protein, bone, and DNA.
Your body doesn’t make magnesium on its own. The amount you need depends on your age and gender. If you’re a woman age 19 or older, you need 310 milligrams (mg) a day — 350 mg if you’re pregnant. If you’re an adult man under age 30, you need 400 mg a day. After 30, men need 420 mg.
It’s always best to get magnesium from food, but you can also get it from multivitamins and supplements. Too much, though, can cause nausea, stomach cramps, or diarrhea. In extreme cases, it could cause an irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest.
Don’t take a magnesium supplement if you have certain conditions, such as:
- Heart block
- Kidney failure
- Bowel obstruction
- Myasthenia gravis
If you get too much magnesium from food, your kidneys will remove it through your urine. Your kidneys will also balance out your magnesium levels if you don’t get enough of it for a little while.
Certain conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, and chronic diarrhea can give your body a long-term shortage of magnesium. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish are the best ways to keep healthy levels of magnesium in your body. Shop with these specifics in mind:
Fish: Top Source of Magnesium
These types of fish are swimming in the mineral magnesium:
- Chinook salmon
- Atlantic mackerel
- Atlantic pollock
Vegetables and Fruits That Have Magnesium
Prickly pear has a lot of magnesium, but it isn’t the easiest food to find or prepare.
Focus instead on these fruits and vegetables that have a lot of magnesium when you cook them and plenty of other nutrients, too:
- Swiss chard
- Potato with skin
Whole-Grain Products With Magnesium
Look for breakfast cereals fortified with magnesium and these whole grains:
- Bran cereals
- Wheat germ (toasted)
- Quinoa (cooked)
Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds With Magnesium
Meat and poultry don’t have a lot of magnesium, but you can find it in soy, cheese, and yogurt.
These meat alternatives are also good magnesium sources:
- Black-eyed peas (cooked)
- Tempeh (cooked)
- Soy nuts
- Cooked beans (black, lima, navy, pinto, chickpeas)
- Peanut butter