Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and plays a role in everything from energy production to nerve function. It's no wonder that this mineral is sometimes referred to as the "master mineral."
While magnesium is found in abundance in nature, many people are still deficient in this important nutrient. Magnesium deficiency can lead to a host of health problems, including muscle cramps, migraines, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.
If you think you might be deficient in magnesium, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test. Magnesium supplements are also available, but it's always best to get nutrients from food first. Here are some of the best magnesium-rich foods to add to your diet:
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens are rich in magnesium because they tend to be high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is responsible for absorption of sunlight during photosynthesis, and it also gives plants their green color. Magnesium is a key component of chlorophyll, and so these greens are an excellent source of this essential mineral.
Nuts and seeds
Most people are aware that nuts and seeds are a good source of protein, but they may not know that these foods are also an excellent source of magnesium. Just a handful of nuts or seeds – such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or flaxseeds – can provide over half of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.
Beans and lentils
They are high in fiber, which helps to promote regularity and prevent constipation (a common cause of magnesium deficiency). They are also a good source of plant-based protein, minerals, and vitamins. In addition, beans and lentils contain phytates, which bind to minerals and make them more bioavailable.
Whole grains are an excellent source of magnesium because they contain the bran and germ of the grain, which are packed with nutrients. In contrast, refined grains have been stripped of the bran and germ, leaving them bereft of nutritional value.
Ah, dark chocolate. The delicious, rich, and slightly bitter treat that we all know and love. But what makes dark chocolate so special? Well, for one thing, it's packed with magnesium. Dark chocolate is one of the best sources. That's because the cocoa bean is naturally rich in magnesium, and the manufacturing process preserves most of this mineral.
Eating a varied and balanced diet that includes these magnesium-rich foods is the best way to ensure that you're getting enough of this important nutrient. Magnesium supplements may also be beneficial for people who are deficient in this nutrient. Talk to your doctor about whether a magnesium supplement is right for you.