What Food Is Highest in Magnesium?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 10/01/2023

Magnesium is an essential mineral vital for bone health, muscle function, and healthy blood sugar control. 

Maintaining adequate levels of magnesium can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Discover what food is highest in magnesium and how you can increase magnesium naturally without the need for supplements.

Magnesium-rich foods

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is essential for more than 600 cellular and metabolic pathways.

It’s a critical component of many enzymes that facilitate biochemical reactions necessary for energy production, digestion, hormone synthesis, and various other physiological processes.

“The body contains around 25 grams of magnesium, most of which is stored in bones," explains Dr. Berg. "Only one percent of magnesium circulates in the blood, which makes it challenging to accurately diagnose magnesium deficiency with blood tests.”

While the total amount of magnesium in the body is relatively low compared to other minerals like calcium or phosphorus, it’s crucial for the proper functioning of muscles, nerves, heart muscle, and immune system.

Magnesium doesn’t stay long in the body, and consuming adequate amounts of magnesium-rich foods is essential to prevent deficiency.  

Watch the video below to learn about the top seven magnesium-rich foods you should eat regularly. 

Seven foods high in magnesium

You may have heard that whole grains such as wheat, rye, and oats are an excellent source of magnesium. 

While whole grains contain magnesium, they are also high in phytates, a type of anti-nutrient that can inhibit intestinal mineral absorption.  

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that phytates in food can reduce magnesium absorption by more than 60 percent.    

Luckily, there are plenty of magnesium-rich foods that are low in phytates and won’t interfere with mineral absorption. 

Here are seven exceptional dietary sources of magnesium.

1. Pumpkin seeds 

Pumpkin seeds contain 168 mg of magnesium per cup (120 grams), making them one of the best dietary sources of magnesium. 


Sunflower and chia seeds are also high in magnesium and are rich sources of healthy fats.


2. Spinach

While a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of raw spinach contains around 50 mg of magnesium, one cup (225 grams) of cooked spinach delivers as much as 150 mg of magnesium. 

3. Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is another exceptional source of magnesium. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw Swiss chard contains around 80 grams of magnesium.  

4. Almonds

While most nuts contain magnesium, almonds are among the best keto-friendly magnesium-rich foods. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds provides about 76 milligrams of magnesium.

5. Avocado

On average, one medium-sized avocado (200 grams) contains around 30 to 40 milligrams of magnesium.

6. Dark leafy greens 

Leafy green vegetables are rich sources of chlorophyll, a magnesium-containing plant compound. 

Depending on the exact type of leafy green, a 3.5-ounce serving can deliver between 30 and 75 mg of magnesium. 


7. Dark chocolate 

One ounce (30 grams) of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa content contains 60 mg of magnesium. 

Magnesium-rich foods on wooden spoons

How much magnesium do you need?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends a daily magnesium intake of 420 milligrams for men and 320 milligrams for women. 

However, individual magnesium needs can vary, and athletes or people with certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, may require a higher magnesium intake to maintain sufficient levels. 

Can you increase your magnesium level without supplements?

A magnesium supplement can be a convenient way to achieve daily intake recommendations. However, many different magnesium products are available, and it can be challenging to differentiate between the best and worst types of magnesium.  

Most people can increase magnesium levels without needing magnesium supplements by incorporating plenty of magnesium-rich foods into their diet.

However, magnesium and other essential minerals require an acidic environment for effective intestinal absorption, which leaves individuals with low stomach acid at risk of magnesium deficiency.

Increasing stomach acidity with apple cider vinegar, adequate potassium intake, probiotics, and zinc can enhance mineral absorption and boost magnesium levels.       

In addition, magnesium is one of the few nutrients that can be absorbed through the skin. Transdermal magnesium contains concentrated magnesium chloride, which can be absorbed by sweat glands and hair follicles. 

Transdermal magnesium won’t significantly increase circulating magnesium levels, but it can be a useful tool in managing muscle tension, cramps, and joint pains.  

Magnesium deficiency illustration

Signs of magnesium deficiency

Although magnesium-rich foods are widely available, research published in Nutrients found that almost 50 percent of the population doesn’t consume enough magnesium and is at risk of deficiency. 

Because magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical processes, deficiency can manifest in a wide range of symptoms.  

Here are common signs of magnesium deficiency: 

  • Low exercise tolerance

  • Fatigue 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Poor sleep

  • Memory problems

  • Muscle cramps 

  • Irritability

  • Arrhythmia

  • Tremor 

Green leafy vegetables

Benefits of magnesium

Magnesium is an essential cofactor in hundreds of biochemical reactions and plays a vital role in energy-making processes, digestion, neurotransmitter production, muscle function, and bone health. 

A study published in Scientifica investigated the health benefits of magnesium and concluded, “Evidence supports the use of magnesium in the prevention and treatment of migraine headache, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, asthma, premenstrual syndrome, preeclampsia, and various cardiac arrhythmias.”

Here are three health benefits of magnesium. 

1. Supports cardiovascular health 

Adequate magnesium levels are linked to a reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Magnesium helps relax blood vessels, which helps lower elevated blood pressure, a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

Magnesium has also been found to support normal blood coagulation and may prevent blood clot formation, which can lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

2. Regulates nerve function 

Magnesium is crucial for nerve transmission and helps maintain healthy nervous system function.

Magnesium regulates neurotransmitter production and has a calming effect on the nervous system, which may explain why magnesium can help improve anxiety and depression

3. Promotes healthy bones

Magnesium works in synergy with vitamin D and calcium and is essential for strong bones and skeletal health.

Magnesium is a vital component of hydroxyapatite, the main component of bone tissue, which provides the structural integrity of bones and contributes to their hardness and density. 

Lack of adequate magnesium can cause impaired bone mineralization and lead to brittle bones, increased fracture risk, and age-related bone issues such as osteoporosis.

Magnesium blood test sample

Hypermagnesemia (high magnesium) causes and symptoms

Hypermagnesemia is a rare and potentially serious condition characterized by elevated magnesium levels in the blood. 

Abnormally high magnesium levels are typically linked to impaired magnesium excretion due to poor kidney function. In some cases, hypermagnesemia can be caused by excessive magnesium intake through supplements or medications such as magnesium-containing antacids or laxatives. 

Here are common symptoms of hypermagnesemia:

  • Weakness

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Constipation

  • Bladder issues

  • Low blood pressure 

  • Shallow breathing

Severe cases of hypermagnesemia can lead to coma and even cardiorespiratory arrest, and it’s crucial to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms related to elevated magnesium levels. Health professionals can evaluate blood magnesium levels and formulate an appropriate treatment plan.

Magnesium-rich foods

Key takeaways

Magnesium is an essential mineral crucial for health and well-being, and if you want to naturally raise magnesium levels, you may be wondering what food Is highest in magnesium. 

While leafy greens, almonds, avocados, and dark chocolate are magnesium-rich foods, pumpkin seeds are one of the best dietary magnesium sources, providing as much as half of your daily magnesium requirements per cup. 


1. What food is highest in magnesium?

Pumpkin seeds are one of the top dietary sources of magnesium. A cup (120 grams) of pumpkin seeds contains 168 mg of magnesium per cup, almost half the daily magnesium requirement for most adults.  

2. What foods are rich in magnesium?

There are many magnesium-rich foods, including pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, avocados, dark chocolate, and green leafy vegetables.

3. How can I raise my magnesium levels quickly?

Consuming plenty of magnesium-rich foods can help raise and maintain magnesium levels.

However, relying on dietary sources may not be sufficient to correct a deficiency, and magnesium supplementation can be a convenient and safe way to promote healthy magnesium stores. 

4. What fruit has the most magnesium?

Dried figs and avocados—which are technically a fruit—are among the highest magnesium-containing fruits. 

One cup of dried figs (150 grams) or one large avocado can contain more than 25 percent of the daily magnesium requirements for most adults. 


5. What vegetable is highest in magnesium?

Spinach and other green leafy vegetables, such as Swiss chard, mustard greens, and kale, are excellent sources of magnesium.

6. What are the benefits of magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential cofactor in hundreds of biochemical reactions and plays a crucial role in energy production, digestion, muscle function, and cognition.

Maintaining adequate magnesium levels may lower the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, migraines, and metabolic syndrome.    

7. How much magnesium do I need each day?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), men should consume 420 mg and women 320 mg of magnesium daily.


8. What are the signs of magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium is needed for more than 600 metabolic and cellular pathways, and deficiency can manifest in a wide range of symptoms. 

Common signs of magnesium deficiency include lethargy, high blood pressure, memory problems, brain fog, sleep issues, and muscle cramps. 


9. What are the signs of too much magnesium (hypermagnesemia)?

Increased blood magnesium levels are typically caused by kidney issues or excessive intake of magnesium-containing medicines such as laxatives or antacids. 

Symptoms such as tiredness, confusion, headaches, bladder issues, low blood pressure, and shallow breathing can indicate hypermagnesemia and should be taken seriously. 


10. Can you get too much magnesium from food?

No, it’s generally not possible to get too much magnesium from dietary sources.

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