Put a bounce back in your step with these magnesium-rich foods

Dec 04, 2019
Getting enough magnesium is essential for maintaining good health. Source: Getty

Eating a diet that is rich in magnesium delivers an array of health benefits, but it can easily be neglected in our day-to-day diets.

It not only helps you maintain good health in general, it can also support bone and muscle health, lower cholesterol and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Despite its importance, over half of Australians don’t meet the recommended daily intake, so Starts at 60 spoke to leading dietician Rebecca Gawthorne to find out why magnesium is so good for you and how you can easily include it in your diet.

Health benefits of magnesium

In addition to maintaining bone health, magnesium is also important for your heart, brain, nervous system, and is associated with a reduced risk of depression.

It’s also important for many processes in your body, Gawthorne adds.

“It’s needed for protein synthesis, regulating hormones, nerve and muscle functioning, blood pressure control, blood sugar regulation, DNA synthesis and immune health,” she explains.

Additionally, magnesium plays a vital role in energy production as it activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body, which helps convert food into energy.

“Hence magnesium is essential for making us feel energetic!” Gawthorne explains. “If you’re constantly feeling tired, fatigued and lacking energy, there’s a possibility that you may be low in magnesium.”

Other common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Poor sleep
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression

“If you’re unsure whether you’re hitting your magnesium targets or are experiencing any of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, always consult your GP [or] dietitian,” Gawthorne advises.

Getting enough magnesium

Our bodies don’t make magnesium naturally, so eating a diet rich in magnesium is super important. Gawthorne recommends eating magnesium daily – men need 330 to 350mg of magnesium per day and women need 255 to 265mg each day.

Magnesium can be found in a variety of foods such as leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and some fatty fish.

“By including magnesium-rich foods in your diet, you should be able to meet your magnesium requirements,” she says.

Gawthorne’s top recommended sources of magnesium include cashews, brazil nuts, spinach, oats, pumpkin seeds, soy milk, salmon and tofu.

Adding more magnesium to your diet

If you’re not eating enough magnesium at the moment, one of the easiest ways to add magnesium to your diet is at breakfast time, Gawthorne says. She recommends adding a handful of brazil nuts or cashews, to your smoothie or cereal.

Other ways include adding pumpkin seeds to your salad to boost the magnesium content, including spinach and salmon at dinner time, or substituting meat for fibre-filled legumes or tofu. In general, foods that are high in fibre provide magnesium.

When it comes to making dessert, Gawthorne says you can substitute white flour for oat flour, and add nuts and seeds for extra flavour and texture.

Alternatively, if you still can’t meet your daily magnesium recommendations, Gawthorne says supplements may help.

“Level Lemonade, which is a low sugar soft-drink, is a great option as it is fortified with magnesium,” she says.

If you’re trying to add more magnesium to your diet, here’s a delicious smoothie recipe from Gawthorne to try!

Breakfast smoothie


  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 1/4 cup plain rolled oats
  • Handful of cashews
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Large handful of baby spinach
  • Frozen banana
  • Honey for drizzling


  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy

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