Magnesium Rich Foods & Health-Boosting Recipes

Are you getting enough magnesium rich foods?  It might surprise you to know that magnesium is a big deal when it comes to your health.  In fact, it’s the fourth most abundant mineral in your body and plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymatic reactions.  Despite its importance, a staggering falling short of the recommended minimum requirement for magnesium.

In this comprehensive guide, we’re about to take you on a journey through the world of magnesium-rich foods and recipes.  We’ll delve into the tools and charts used by Optimisers in our Micros Masterclass to help you boost your magnesium intake and reap the incredible benefits this mineral has to offer.

So, if you’re ready to discover which foods and recipes can supercharge your magnesium levels, keep reading.  We’re about to show you how to make magnesium a delicious and essential part of your diet.

Best Foods High in Magnesium (Per Serving)

If you find yourself falling short of the recommended magnesium intake, it’s time to focus on foods that pack in more magnesium per serving.  

To help you get started, the infographic below shows the magnesium provided by popular foods in the average serving sizes consumed by our Optimisers.  

high magnesium foods

Once you’re ready to revitalise your diet with a wider variety of high-magnesium foods, download our printable list of foods with more magnesium per serving here.

Magnesium Rich Foods (Per Calorie)

Once you know you’re getting the minimum amount of magnesium your body needs, you can zero in on magnesium-rich foods that deliver more magnesium per calorie to increase your satiety and nutrient density further.  The infographic below shows popular foods that provide more magnesium per calorie.

magnesium rich foods

For more variety, check out our printable list of magnesium-rich foods per calorie.

Magnesium-Rich Foods Chart

Magnesium-dense foods can be found in plant or animal foods.  However, magnesium is a vital component of chlorophyll, which gives plants their green colour, so magnesium is particularly rich in vegetables, particularly green ones.  

Curious about how your favourite foods stack up in the magnesium game?  Dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular foods, comparing magnesium content per calorie and per serving.  For an immersive experience, explore the interactive Tableau version (on your computer).

Magnesium-Rich Foods Chart

Magnesium-Rich Recipes

Elevate your culinary game with our chart, showcasing over 1400 NutriBooster recipes used in our Micros Masterclass.  We’ve plotted these recipes based on magnesium content versus protein percentage.  The further right you go, the more magnesium you can enjoy with fewer calories.

Magnesium-Rich Recipes

Explore our array of magnesium rich meals that are both nutritious and delicious. Dive into the details with our interactive Tableau chart on your computer.  Click on each recipe to uncover the magic behind it and even feast your eyes on mouthwatering pictures!

photos of Magnesium-Rich Recipes

How Much Magnesium Do You Need?

Our satiety analysis reveals that your body craves at least 190 mg of magnesium per 2000 calories, which is less than the Dietary Reference Intake of 420 mg for men. However, achieving the Optimal Nutrient Intake of 570 mg per 2000 calories from food aligns with a 21% reduction in energy intake. 

What are the Roles of Magnesium in Your Body?


  • is involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions in your body,
  • is necessary for muscle activity and nerve impulses,
  • metabolises glucose and helps to normalise blood sugar,
  • aides in protein synthesis,
  • is required to detoxify hormones like estrogen,
  • modulates the release of stress hormones and regulates them,
  • helps produce DNA, RNA, and the master antioxidant glutathione,
  • plays a role in transporting calcium and potassium into and out of the cell,
  • allows muscles to relax,
  • transports ions like calcium and potassium,
  • is required to produce ATP,
  • is active in cell signalling,
  • breaks down old neurotransmitters like histamine,

helps synthesise collagen,

Getting adequate magnesium is helpful for:

A lack of magnesium is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease.  Studies have shown people who die of heart attacks often have low magnesium levels.  

However, getting adequate magnesium has become difficult as our soils have become depleted and void of many nutrients, including magnesium, from soil degradation and over-farming.   

Because magnesium is rapidly used up to metabolise glucose, and in times of stress, the modern food environment and the go-go-go of the Western world have further exacerbated deficiency.

What Are Some Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency? 

Because magnesium plays a role in so many vital functions, lower intakes of magnesium are associated with a wide range of conditions, including:

Factors Increasing Your Demand for Magnesium

You may need more magnesium if you:

Magnesium Upper Limit, Toxicity, and Side Effects

An Upper Limit for magnesium of 350 mg from supplements is set based on gut tolerance.  While higher magnesium levels from food are not a problem, you could spend extra time on the toilet if you overdo your magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium draws water into the large intestine, forcing a bowel movement (when taken in high amounts).  Because excessive amounts of magnesium prompt a run to the bathroom, magnesium is an active ingredient in many laxative supplements.  

Optimal Magnesium Intake

Given the strong satiety response to magnesium and the numerous health benefits, we recommend a stretch target of 825 mg/2000 calories of magnesium from food.  

Once you start to get the hang of nutrient density, you could ‘level up’ by working to achieve these stretch targets to optimise your nutrition.  For more details, see:

Magnesium Availability in the Food System

The amount of magnesium in the food system has declined since the widespread implementation of chemical fertilisers in the 1940s.  We now need to consume an extra 23% energy to get the same amount of magnesium that we did in the 1940s!

Magnesium Availability in the Food System

Magnesium-rich products are often unprocessed foods.  Thus, someone whose diet revolves around processed foods would struggle to get enough magnesium.  

Synergistic Nutrients

Magnesium works synergistically with vitamins B1, B6, C, and D, potassium, boron, calcium, and glucose.  This means it needs adequate amounts of each of these minerals (not just one) to work properly.  

Thus, magnesium supplementation of just magnesium often isn’t very effective.  Instead, consuming magnesium-rich foods usually contains the remaining spectrum of nutrients for this mineral to do its job.


Magnesium is absorbed in your duodenum and ileum.  Typical absorption rates are 30 to 40%.  Excess magnesium is excreted in the urine (and faeces, if in excess).  As noted above, magnesium is known to have an acute laxative effect, meaning supplemental magnesium is often not absorbed well. 


Magnesium is stored in your bones, teeth, muscles, liver, pancreas, and non-muscular soft tissue.  The body regularly releases this mineral into the bloodstream to buffer and maintain a constant pH.

Optimal Calcium: Magnesium Ratio

Calcium and magnesium are closely interrelated.  Your body needs adequate magnesium to use calcium properly, and vice versa.  Magnesium deficiency, therefore, affects calcium metabolism and alters certain hormones that regulate calcium.

At the same time, calcium and magnesium compete with one another and interfere with the other’s functions if they are out of balance.

High intakes of calcium through supplementation interfere with magnesium status by reducing intestinal absorption and increasing urinary losses.  Additionally, magnesium deficiency is known to induce calcium deficiency.  Excess magnesium may prevent calcium from contracting muscles when the ratio of magnesium to calcium is imbalanced and when magnesium levels are far too high.

Our satiety analysis shows that people who get more calcium than magnesium tend to eat less.  So, if weight loss is your goal, you should prioritise getting adequate dietary calcium.   

In our Micros Masterclass, Optimisers use Nutrient Optimiser to help you manage your calcium:magnesium ratio to ensure you’re not emphasising nutrients that exacerbate existing imbalances.

Magnesium Bioavailability

Minerals like magnesium are more likely plentiful in fresh and raw meat.  But minerals are lost from the blood and juices of animal foods through processing and cooking. 

However, magnesium absorption does not appear to be affected by consuming a plant-based versus animal-based diet.  Magnesium is a nutrient absorbed similarly from plant and animal foods whether you consume a carnivorous or plant-based diet. 

Why Does Keto Cause Magnesium Deficiency? 

Magnesium is one of the minerals whose deficiency contributes to “keto flu” when people switch to a low-carb or ketogenic diet.

The kidneys regulate magnesium levels, and your body upregulates insulin to help the kidneys hold onto essential minerals like magnesium that can be harder to find on a reduced carbohydrate diet.

Dietary carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in muscles.  Around three grams of water is stored in the muscles for every gram of glycogen.  When dietary carbs are decreased, all of this water is released along with the minerals stored in the tissues.

Magnesium on a Ketogenic Diet

Several essential minerals tend to be harder to get on a keto diet because they limit high-carbohydrate plant-based foods.  Hence, many people on a keto diet feel better when they supplement magnesium.

In addition, foods highest in magnesium, like non-starchy green vegetables, tend to be lower in fat and higher in fibre.  Therefore, if you prefer a lower carb or ketogenic diet, you should make an extra effort to prioritise non-starchy green vegetables to ensure you are getting adequate magnesium.

Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium is a nutrient worth supplementing if you consistently fall short of your recommended daily intake from your diet.  However, this can be challenging because you will need to consume a quantity of powder or pills to boost your magnesium intake if your diet is low. 

This can be problematic because this is a large volume of powder to consume.  Secondly, it may give you diarrhea if your body is not used to absorbing magnesium in this form or this quantity, particularly if you have digestive issues.  Hence, you should strive to get as much magnesium as possible from food and only use supplements to top up, if necessary.  As always, start slowly. 

Does Magnesium Help with Keto Constipation? 

A ketogenic diet is known to have diuretic effects, resulting in someone following the diet peeing out many of their electrolytes, such as magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.

Because magnesium is harder to find on a ketogenic diet that does not emphasise non-starchy vegetables and is excreted more rapidly, we can see symptoms of low levels like constipation.  

As a result, supplying the body with adequate magnesium can help to regulate bowel movements.

How Much Magnesium Should I Take on Keto? 

Someone following a ketogenic diet should aim for the same stretch targets of all of their nutrients as someone who is not.  This is to avoid deficiency with consuming too little and prevent imbalances from consuming too much.

To determine how much magnesium you should be consuming as a supplement on a ketogenic diet, get an idea of how many milligrams you naturally consume on your low-carb diet by tracking your foods for a few days on Cronometer.

Once you get a baseline of what you’re getting already, look to supplement the milligrams you’re falling short of.  This method will prevent you from getting too much or too little magnesium if you’re unaware of how much you get from food.

Green and leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, dark chocolate, avocado, tofu, yogurt, and fatty fish are all keto-compliant foods high in magnesium.

If you are eager to supplement with magnesium, check out our Optimised Electrolyte Mix recipe that contains potassium, magnesium and sodium in optimal ratios.  These are all excellent ways to incorporate sodium supplementation without overdoing any of these minerals.

How Can I Calculate if I’m Getting Enough Magnesium?

Curious about your magnesium intake?  Take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and discover if you’re hitting the magnesium sweet spot in your diet.

After just one week of tracking your daily meals with Cronometer, Nutrient Optimiser will unveil a personalised roadmap, your guide to a healthier, more nutrient-rich lifestyle. 

You’ll receive a curated list of foods and tantalising NutriBooster recipes that not only fill your magnesium gaps but also ensure you’re not missing out on critical nutrients.

Ready to unlock your nutrient potential?  Join the challenge and embark on a journey towards a brighter, healthier you!

Nutrient Density Starter Pack

Ready to supercharge your nutrition?  Get our Nutrient Density Starter Pack – your all-access pass to a healthier, more vibrant you!

In our quest to make Nutritional Optimization a breeze, we’re thrilled to offer you this treasure trove of tools and resources when you join our vibrant Optimising Nutrition Community:

  • Food Lists: Discover our carefully crafted lists optimised for each essential nutrient, tailored to your goals, preferences, and unique conditions.
  • The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World: Peek into a week of mouthwatering, nutrient-dense meals that’ll leave you satisfied and energised.
  • Recipes: Download delectable samples from our NutriBooster recipe books, designed to elevate your nutrition while tantalising your taste buds.
  • 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge: Unearth your priority nutrients and pinpoint the foods and meals that pack a nutrient punch so you can kickstart your journey to better health.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to transform your nutrition effortlessly.  Join our community and unlock your path to a healthier, more vibrant you!

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