Magnesium – It’s Needed by Every Cell


Magnesium needed by every cell in the body and is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions. It helps convert food to energy, create proteins from amino acids, creates and repairs DNA and RNA, helps muscles to contract and relax, and is involved with regulating the nervous system—just to name a few.

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Low Magnesium Impacts Health

Studies are mixed, but do indicate that low levels of magnesium may impact your health:

  • Because magnesium helps to move blood sugar into muscle cells (for energy) and get rid of lactic acid during workouts, low levels may reduce your energy or performance.
  • Adequate magnesium in needed for brain function and mood, an increased risk of depression and anxiety is linked to low levels of magnesium.
  • Low levels of magnesium may impair the body’s to move blood sugar into cells resulting in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  • Magnesium supplements can help to lower blood pressure in those with high blood pressure and low magnesium levels.
  • Chronic inflammation in the body is linked with many diseases from obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, and cancer. Low magnesium intake is linked to chronic inflammation.
  • Low magnesium may be linked to migraines.
  • Premenstrual syndrome may be improved with the addition of magnesium supplements.
  • Adequate magnesium can help with a restful night’s sleep.

How Much Do You Need?

The recommended daily intake is 400–420 mg per day for men and 310–320 mg per day for women. You can get adequate magnesium by eating a variety of magnesium-rich foods and/or through supplementation.

Food Source of Magnesium

Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good sources. The body absorbs 40-60% of the magnesium in foods.

Food Milligrams
(mg) per
 Food Milligrams
(mg) per
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium 40
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 Banana, 1 medium 32
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26
Soymilk plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 Milk, 1 cup 24–27
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 Raisins, ½ cup 23
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 Apple, 1 medium 9
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7


It’s always to a good idea to check with your physician before taking any supplements as they may interact with medications. Supplements come in many forms—in general look for magnesium citrate or glycinate. Don’t overdo it–magnesium supplements can have a laxative effect and toxicity can occur with excessive supplementation over time.


A good intake of magnesium is essential to every cell in your body and overall good health. Choose to eat a variety of magnesium-rich foods each day and if you don’t feel that you’re getting enough, talk to your healthcare provider about trying a supplement.

About Deb Hart

Deb Hart is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. For the last 28 years, she has been helping bariatric surgery patients reach their health and weight goals. She teaches people how to set up a lifestyle that supports a healthy weight. Deb set up her own lifestyle to include lots of long walks with her furry family members, workout classes at her local wellness center, meal prepping, and finding new ways to enjoy foods without added sugar.
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