Benefits of magnesium rich foods

Benefits of magnesium: the most powerful relaxation fix

If you’re feeling stressed, tense or twitchy chances are your body is craving magnesium. This potent mineral is regarded as a secret weapon against health issues as diverse as diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, noise-induced hearing loss and even cancer.

Did you know magnesium also eases sleep disorders, anxiety and is a proven tonic for troublesome skin?
I’ve studied the scientific papers and this magic mineral really does support the nervous system and keep skin looking clear and beautiful. So here’s all the medical know-how you need to harness the enormous benefits of magnesium.


What does magnesium do?

Magnesium is the body’s fourth most abundant mineral and is the catalyst for more than 300 important biochemical reactions – mostly in the brain, muscles and bones. The ultimate relaxant, it helps uncoil tension in both mind and body such as muscle tightness, irritability, cramps (sports injuries/period pains) and stiffness. Not having enough of this nutrient can be hugely detrimental to your health. One study in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine goes as far as saying magnesium deficiency makes you twice as likely to die as people who have optimum levels. Doctors even use it intravenously in critical situations such as seizures and heart disorders. One US doctor says 65% of people admitted to intensive care have magnesium deficiency. So it’s hardly surprising this disease-preventing mineral is one of the most popular today. Not only does it regulate muscle and nerve function, blood-sugar levels and blood pressure, it makes protein, bone and DNA. One of the most important benefits of magnesium is helping cells make energy. Its existence is essential for an important cell protein called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to provide energy for almost all our metabolic processes.

Benefits of magnesium for problem skin

Research has revealed increasing your magnesium intake may also help solve problem skin. Magnesium and calcium are required in the fluid surrounding cells to aid wound healing. Having optimum magnesium levels helps naturally repair acne-prone skin. It also has therapeutic qualities for those with sensitive skin. Proof comes in the form of a test on rats that were fed a magnesium-deficient diet leading to itchy, inflamed skin.

Why is it likely you are magnesium deficient?

Studies have shown it’s likely more than half of adults are not getting the recommended daily amount (RDA) of magnesium, which is 310-320mg for women and 400-420mg for men. See here for RDAs for all our ages and stages of life. The benefits of magnesium were easy to obtain a century ago when we got an estimated 500mg daily dose from food alone. But unfortunately, many of us are now deficient due to highly processed diets and the deterioration of soil. Unfortunately, few tests are able to accurately diagnose magnesium deficiency. Only about 1% of it is detectable in blood tests, while 50 to 60% resides in bones and soft tissues. Some factors triggering poor magnesium absorption include not having enough Vitamin B6, Vitamin D and selenium in your diet. This has led some researchers to recommend taking 600-900mg of magnesium a day. Other common reasons are:

  • Consuming excess alcohol, salt, coffee (diuretics) and acidic fizzy drink
  • A high fibre/low protein diet
  • Heavy periods
  • Sweating
  • Drugs including antibiotics
  • Illness involving upset stomachs

How you know you need magnesium

The great news is you can rebalance by knowing the symptoms of low magnesium stores. These include migraines, heart palpitations, irritability, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Less well known symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

    With such a broad list of health problems linked to being low in this mineral it can be hard to work out if you need to boost your intake. Doctors say more magnesium-rich meals are better than supplements. The body has built-in mechanisms to naturally rid itself of excess minerals by excreting them. However, magnesium pills and powders are easy to overdose on and their absorption can be blocked by stomach acids. Ingesting too much can cause nausea, diarrhoea and, in extreme cases, heart palpitations or heart attack.

    Thankfully, there are many safe ways it can be added to your daily beauty and recipe routines so you can reap all the benefits of magnesium. Lips and skin literally lap it up via mineral-packed makeup such as Lip Nourish™, which also has cold-pressed avocado oil to assist with skin barrier repair. Many magnesium oils, sprays and roll-ons promise to relieve migraines, muscle spasms and sleeplessness. Taking a bath with magnesium flakes (magnesium chloride), which are more potent than traditional Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate), can relax muscles, calm the nervous system and soothe dry, flaky skin caused by psoriasis and eczema.

    Scientists have proved magnesium's potency as a skin protector by applying magnesium salts directly onto damaged skin which sped up healing - but be cautious of products claiming to remove skin tags, sun spots, moles and blemishes. These need to be assessed by a doctor. By far the best way to get an optimum magnesium level is through nutrient-filled foods that work with your body to restore natural equilibrium. The mix of food is important, as fibre tends to reduce magnesium absorption while probiotics (yoghurt) doubles them.

    Here’s a list of 17 top magnesium rich foods to consume for radiant skin and a less-stressed life:

    Fruits & Vegetables:

    • Prickly pear - 88mg in one piece of fruit
    • Spinach - 83mg in 1/2 cup of cooked spinach
    • Chard - 80mg in 1/2 cup of cooked chard
    • Potato - 44-55mg in a medium cooked potato with skin

    Dairy/Dairy Alternatives:

    • Soy cheese - 114mg in 50g of soy cheese
    • Soy yoghurt - 70mg in 3/4 cup of soy yoghurt
    • Milk - 24-27mg in 1 cup

    Nuts & seeds:

    • Pumpkin seed - 317mg in 1/4 cup
    • Brazil nuts - 133mg in 1/4 cup
    • Sunflower seeds - 115mg in 1/4 cup
    • Almonds - 88-109mg in 1/4 cup
    • Cashews - 90mg in 1/4 cup


    • Quinoa - 63mg in 125ml of cooked quinoa


    • Banana - 32mg in 1 medium banana
    • Avocado - 44mg in 1 cup
    • Figs - 20mg in 100grams of fresh figs

    Dark chocolate

    • 292mg in 100 grams of bitter / dark chocolate (excellent!)

    You can out the magnesium content of more foods on the Dietitians of Canada website. For more information about the nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in food, download our free Beauty Nutrition Handbook.

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