Food With Low Magnesium


If you’re looking for information on how to eat food with low magnesium levels, this article will help. The statistics show that over half of americans are deficient in magnesium, which can be extremely harmful to your health. The good news is there are plenty of ways you can fix this problem, which are discussed throughout this article.

Food With Low Magnesium

Magnesium, an alkaline earth mineral, is essential to your health. A diet low in magnesium may lead to an increased risk of some health disorders, and the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that most Americans do not get enough magnesium in their diets. Visit with your doctor before making any major changes to your regular diet.

Magnesium’s Role

The fourth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium is necessary for strong muscle and bone development. This essential mineral also helps the body process protein and contributes to optimal nerve function, according to the “Gale Encyclopedia of Diets: A Guide to Health and Nutrition.” Magnesium also plays a role in regulating blood sugar and blood pressure and in converting nutrients into energy.

Effects of a Low-Magnesium Diet

A diet low in magnesium may lead to magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesaemia. When your body does not have a sufficient amount of magnesium, you’re more likely to experience anxiety and sleep disorders, according to UMMC. Other symptoms of too little magnesium include restless leg syndrome, confusion, weakness, muscle spasms, low blood pressure and seizures in severe cases.

Food Sources of Magnesium

A diet low in magnesium will benefit from the addition of foods rich in this vital mineral, including foods from the legume family, whole grains and some vegetables. Almonds, cashews and soybeans are good sources of magnesium and so are peanuts, black-eyed peas, baked potatoes with the skin on, yogurt, oatmeal and cooked halibut. Bananas, wheat germ, milk and brown rice also provide magnesium.

Recommended Intake of Magnesium

The FDA sets a suggested Daily Value, or DV, for essential nutrients. The DV for magnesium for adults is 400 milligrams, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Another recommendation, set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, lists Dietary Reference Intakes, or DRIs, for nutrients in the daily diet. DRIs more closely target different population groups, and the magnesium DRI for females 19 to 30 years old is 310 milligrams. After the age of 30, the DRI for females increases to 320 milligrams.

  • The FDA sets a suggested Daily Value, or DV, for essential nutrients.
  • The DV for magnesium for adults is 400 milligrams, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Excess Magnesium

Getting too much magnesium, known as hypermagnesemia, is rare, according to the “Gale Encyclopedia,” and it is more likely to occur as a result of laxative and antacid abuse than by eating foods high in magnesium.

Foods To Avoid Magnesium Deficiency

In order to be healthy, it is essential to maintain a proper balanced diet. A balanced diet aims at covering all the important macro-nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, fats along with micro-nutrients that include various vitamins and minerals. A lack of any of these can lead to deficiency, which can cause a host of problems. One of the most important minerals in our body is magnesium. Magnesium is known to be responsible for various biochemical reactions in the body that impact metabolism, immune functions, blood pressure to name a few. It is of utmost importance to include foods in your diet that are rich in magnesium; a lack of which can cause symptoms like nausea, weakness, irritability etc. Other symptoms may include muscle cramps, anxiety, irregular heartbeats, fatigue and insomnia. In order to avoid the same, you can include these five foods in your daily diet. Read on to know more about them.

1. Avocados

This magnesium-rich fruit can be savoured in the form of dip, salads and desserts as well. Apart from being abundantly rich in magnesium, avocados are packed with the goodness of potassium as well.

2. Tofu

If you happen to be a vegetarian who relies on tofu for protein requirement, then you have more reasons to rejoice. Tofu is said to have high amounts of this particular mineral. You can add it in salads or in your regular meals as well.

3. Tuna

5. Dark Chocolate

This one’s for all the chocolate lovers out there. Dark chocolate is said to be a powerhouse of magnesium. Apart from giving you an instant energy boost, dark chocolate may provide you with a good dose of magnesium as well as antioxidants.

10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Magnesium—and What to Do About It

overhead shot of chocolate zucchini brownies on white parchment paper

As the wellness industry continues to grow and more and more Americans become interested in health and nutrition, magnesium has started to become a hot topic. This little-known mineral is responsible for hundreds of natural processes in our bodies, keeping our hearts, bones and brains strong, while giving us all the energy we need to get through the day. Not only that, but magnesium seems to help with sleep and stress management, too.

Adult women between the ages of 19-30 are recommended to consume 310 milligrams of magnesium per day, going up to 320 mg upon turning 31 (and a little more during pregnancy). Adult men between the ages of 19-30 need 400 mg per day, and 420 mg at age 31 and older. Unfortunately, most of us are only getting about half of that. And that’s a problem, because magnesium deficiency can lead to a host of acute and chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, migraine headaches and heart disease. Luckily, a true deficiency is uncommon in most adults, but if you’re worried you’re not getting enough, it’s worth talking to your doctor. Plus, people with diabetes, those with gastrointestinal diseases and older adults are at greater risk of getting inadequate magnesium.

Here are 10 signs you could be missing the mark on magnesium, and tips on how to get more into your diet:

1. You’re Regularly Struggling to Get Through a Workout

Muscle fatigue and exhaustion are common symptoms of not getting enough magnesium. Especially if you used to be able to crush your morning workout or used to have the energy for a nightly walk (regardless of if you felt like it), this may be a warning sign that you need to up the magnesium ante. Low magnesium levels seem to be interlinked with low potassium levels, and a magnesium-deficient diet can deplete our stores of potassium—which is a necessary electrolyte for proper exercise recovery.

2. Your Mental Health Is Suffering

Magnesium plays a major role in your central nervous system, regulating the neurotransmitters that send messages to your brain. This mineral has a major impact on your mood, and many studies have found links between low magnesium intake and an increased risk for depression.

This is especially the case in teens and young adults, but a study at the University of Vermont found that supplementing magnesium in the diets of adults with mild to moderate depression improved their moods as much as a prescription antidepressant. Additional studies have also found associations between magnesium and anxiety, but more research needs to be conducted in order to make a direct correlation.

3. You’re Experiencing Muscle Cramps, Tremors or Twitches

We all experience a weird muscle spasm or twitch from time to time, but if they become more frequent, it might be due to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium does a lot of work for your muscles, helping them both contract and relax, and it also assists in synthesizing protein to help you grow stronger. If our magnesium levels are lower than they should be, our muscles feel out of control and can start to cramp or twitch. You may also need to drink more water.

4. You’re Tired All the Time

There are a million little reasons why you could be chronically tired—a stressful job, mental health struggles, just being a parent in general—but your diet does make a major impact as well. Magnesium has a role in helping our body convert food into energy, so we need magnesium-rich foods to ensure our body is utilizing our meals and snacks to the best of its ability.

5. You’re Frequently Constipated

Ugh, yes, being low in magnesium can also mean being low in bowel movements. Foods that are high in magnesium are also high in fiber for the most part, so if you don’t get enough magnesium, you likely aren’t getting enough fiber, and that means irregularity in that pesky digestive system. Just don’t overdo it on the magnesium—too much can send your bowels in disarray, too.

6. You Have High Blood Pressure

If you’re not getting enough magnesium, your body won’t be able to regulate your blood pressure properly. Magnesium is a heart-health all-star, helping us to manage our blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels and ultimately, to fight inflammation. Many foods found in an anti-inflammatory diet are also magnesium-rich.

7. You Eat a Lot of Meat and Processed Foods

As mentioned earlier, the majority of foods that are rich in magnesium are also rich in fiber. Fiber can only be found naturally in whole plant foods, so if your diet is pretty heavy in meat, dairy and processed foods, there’s a good chance it’s low in magnesium. While 1 cup of yogurt does pack 11% of your daily magnesium needs, you’re going to get the most bang for your buck with nuts, leafy greens, soy, beans, whole grains and fish—foods most Americans don’t eat enough of.

8. You Have Trouble Falling Asleep

While too little magnesium can leave you feeling fatigued, that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a good night’s sleep. There are many promising studies out there to show how magnesium can impact sleep for the better, thanks to a neurotransmitter called GABA. GABA slows your thinking down and helps you ease into sleep mode. Too little magnesium in your diet could be leaving you with racing thoughts and poor stress management at night when all you want is to catch a few zzz’s.

9. You Have Some Serious Chocolate Cravings

OK, we’d all love to eat chocolate every day, all the time, but we’re talking about a more intense issue. If you feel like your body is in desperate need of chocolate more than just on occasion or the week before your period, this could be a sign to up your magnesium intake. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium—just 1 ounce packs in 10% of your daily needs. However, a chocolate craving could also be due to a lack of sleep or extra stress, among other things, so don’t freak out so much over this one.

10. Your Heartbeat Is All Over the Place

Magnesium is a key player in regulating our heart and keeping it healthy, so not getting enough can really throw it out of whack. Heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, is one of the more serious consequences of being magnesium deficient and should be taken seriously. Similarly to muscle weakness and fatigue, this problem is thought to be due to a potassium imbalance caused by a magnesium deficiency. Arrhythmia can lead to symptoms such as lightheadedness, chest pain, shortness of breath or even fainting. It can also increase your risk for heart failure or stroke, so be sure to consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

How to Increase Your Magnesium Intake

The great thing about increasing your magnesium intake is that it will also help boost your intake of other essential nutrients like fiber, good carbs, healthy fats and calcium. We always advise getting the majority of your nutrition from a healthy diet, and you’ll find some of the most magnesium-rich foods listed below:

  • Pumpkin seed kernels (1 oz.): 168 mg
  • Dry-roasted almonds (1 oz.): 80 mg
  • Cooked spinach (½ cup): 78 mg
  • Dry-roasted cashews (1 oz.): 74 mg
  • Soymilk (1 cup): 61 mg
  • Cooked black beans (½ cup): 60 mg
  • Cooked edamame (½ cup): 50 mg
  • Dark chocolate, 60-90% cacao (1 oz.): 50 mg
  • Peanut butter (2 Tbsp.): 49 mg
  • Whole-wheat bread (2 slices): 46 mg

The good news is there are so many delicious ways to up your magnesium intake, and it’s pretty easy to sneak these foods into your daily diet. Try topping your salad with nuts or seeds, like in our Radish, Watercress & Arugula Salad with Feta Vinaigrette, or try out a Bean & Veggie Taco Bowl instead of using beef or chicken. Swapping your white bread for whole-wheat will make a big difference too!

Additionally, you can use supplements as a secondary source of magnesium. There are loads of options out there: one of the most popular is Natural Calm, which is a powder you can stir into a glass of water or toss in your smoothie. Talk to your health care provider before starting a supplement.

Magnesium Deficiency

What is magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium is the fourth most common mineral in the human body, after calcium, potassium and sodium. The body needs magnesium for a wide range of processes, including muscle and nerve function, controlling blood sugar levels, and maintaining healthy blood pressure. Magnesium also helps the body use other nutrients, like vitamin D.

The recommended amount of magnesium varies according to age, but most healthy adults should have between 310 to 320 mg of magnesium per day (women) or 400 to 420 mg per day (men). Low levels of magnesium in the body, known as magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesemia, can result from someone not consuming enough magnesium, from the intestines absorbing too little magnesium, or from losing too much magnesium through the urine.

Low magnesium levels affect up to half of adults in the United States. Treating magnesium deficiency depends on identifying and addressing the underlying cause.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, muscle contractions, and weakness. Extreme or severe magnesium deficiency is a medical emergency and can cause life-threatening heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. Seek emergency care (call 911) if you or someone you are with experiences rapid or irregular heart rate, difficulty breathing, or sudden muscle weakness.

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

The signs of magnesium deficiency can be subtle at first and may be mistaken as symptoms of other common conditions. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms so you can more quickly get an accurate diagnosis.

Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency

The most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps and/or spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Nystagmus, abnormal eye movements
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

Serious symptoms that could occur include:

  • High blood glucose (sugar)
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat, arrhythmia
  • Migraine
  • Osteoporosis, or thinning bones

If you have a combination of any of the above symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and your concerns. Detecting magnesium deficiency early can help diagnose a condition that is causing it or allow you to make lifestyle changes or undergo treatment to bring the magnesium levels back up to normal.

What causes magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency can have several causes ranging from not consuming enough foods with magnesium to losing magnesium due to illness.

Gastrointestinal conditions

Certain GI conditions can affect the body’s ability to take in magnesium, often due to chronic diarrhea or lack of absorption in the intestinal tract. Gastrointestinal conditions that can cause magnesium deficiency include:

Type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes experience chronic elevated blood glucose. The kidneys fail to filter the excess glucose, allowing the glucose to enter the urine. This redirects more water to the urine. This can lead to excessive urine output, which can deplete the body’s magnesium levels.

Alcohol dependence

The effects of alcohol dependence can include gastrointestinal issues, kidney damage, liver disease, and poor nutrition—all of which can lead to lower absorption of magnesium.

Other causes of magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency can also occur as a result of:

  • Age
  • Breastfeeding
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Lack of magnesium intake through diet
  • Medications that increase urine output, such as diuretics
  • Serious or severe burns over a large part of the body

What are the risk factors for magnesium deficiency?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing magnesium deficiency. Not all people with risk factors will have low magnesium levels, but the condition does affect about half of all adults in the U.S.

Risk factors for magnesium deficiency include:

  • Age. As people get older, the body’s ability to absorb nutrients like magnesium naturally decreases.
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Conditions that increase urine output, such as type 2 diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal conditions, including Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, that affect absorption of nutrients
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding, which can increase the body’s need for magnesium
  • Poor diet
  • Taking medication that causes diarrhea or increased urine output, such as a diuretic

Reducing your risk of magnesium deficiency

You may be able to lower your risk of magnesium deficiency by:

  • Eating a healthy magnesium-rich diet
  • Managing chronic illnesses
  • Switching medications under the pharmacist’s or doctor’s supervision
  • Taking magnesium supplements

Speak with your healthcare provider if you think you may be at risk of magnesium deficiency and to discuss what steps you can take to lower your risk.

What are the diet and nutrition tips for magnesium deficiency?

Many foods are naturally high in magnesium, and a healthy person eating a balanced diet should be able to consume the recommended daily amount.

Foods that contain magnesium include:

  • Black beans and kidney beans
  • Cooked spinach, broccoli, carrots 
  • Dairy foods, such as low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt
  • Dark chocolate
  • Lean beef and poultry
  • Nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and cashews
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes (with skin)
  • Rice
  • Salmon

If in doubt about what type of foods are best and how to prepare them, speak with your doctor’s office about meeting with a dietitian, who may provide you with ideas on how to maximize your nutrients through your diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate program and the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans also provide guidance on healthy dietary choices.

While it is not usually possible to get too much magnesium from diet alone, it is possible to get too much through supplements. Always speak with your doctor before taking any new vitamins or supplements.

What are some conditions related to magnesium deficiency?

People who are magnesium deficient have a high risk of also being deficient in vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin. The body needs magnesium in order to activate vitamin D, whether it is absorbed through the sun or through food.

Without magnesium, vitamin D cannot work with calcium to help strengthen bones and contribute to heart and metabolic health. As a result, people with magnesium deficiency can develop osteoporosis and heart disease.

How do doctors diagnose magnesium deficiency?

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed healthcare practitioner will ask you several questions related to your symptoms and diet. After a physical exam, your doctor may recommend some of these tests:

  • Blood tests to examine your magnesium and other nutrient levels
  • Urine test, to determine if too much magnesium is being excreted

If there is concern about other conditions that may be causing the deficiency, your doctor may test you for conditions that could affect nutrient absorption, such as diabetes or kidney disease. If you may have had magnesium deficiency for a considerable length of time, you may also undergo a bone scan to measure the strength of your bones.

What are the treatments for magnesium deficiency?

Mild magnesium deficiency can often be addressed by increasing consumption of magnesium through diet or with magnesium supplements, as recommended by your doctor. If magnesium deficiency is being caused by an underlying condition, treatment and management of that condition will in turn help improve magnesium levels.

Treatment for severe magnesium deficiency usually involves oral (by mouth) magnesium salts or an intravenous or intramuscular injection of magnesium. Side effects from these treatments may be bothersome, but can often be managed until magnesium levels reach the needed levels.

What are the potential complications of magnesium deficiency?

Because magnesium plays a vital role in body health, continued magnesium deficiency could lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Cardiac arrest, due to decreased cardiac muscle function
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Osteoporosis, due to because of the inability of for the bones to absorb the necessary nutrients
  • Stroke

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