The Definitive Mineral Guide For Vegetarians

Chapter 4 – Magnesium: The Soothing Mineral

Did you know that mighty magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body? Some of the tasks magnesium does on a daily basis include maintenance of normal muscle and nerve function, steadying your heart rhythm and nerves, keeping your immune system strong and protective, and helping to maintain your bone density and strength, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. (1)Download a PDF copy of this Manual

You have almost a full ounce of magnesium in you, and half of that is in your bones, with the rest being in your soft tissues. Only a very small and specific amount (less than 1%) is in your blood.

Equilibrium is tightly controlled by the kidneys, and about 120 mg per day is excreted through urine. Amazingly, if you are low on magnesium your body headquarters will sense it and reduce excretion of it.

Though the amount of magnesium in your blood is very small compared to your bones, it is used as the gage to tell if you are getting enough, or too much. This makes the accuracy of such measurements questionable, as the majority of magnesium is in your cells and bones.

Other methods are also used such as measuring urine and saliva, but still there is uncertainty to the accuracy. This is why it is very important to self monitor for deficiency symptoms, which will be covered later.



Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium


Age Male Female Pregnant Lactation
0 – 6 months 30 mg* 30 mg*
7 – 12 months 75 mg* 75 mg*
1 – 3 years 80 mg 80 mg
4 – 8 years 130 mg 130 mg
9 – 13 years 240 mg 240 mg
14 – 18 years 410 mg 360 mg 400 mg 360 mg
19 – 30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
31 – 50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg
51 + years 420 mg 320 mg

*Adequate Intake (AI)

Foods Where Magnesium Lives

Generally speaking, foods that are high in fiber also contain magnesium. For the most part magnesium is found in many plants and animal products, and is added to things such as breakfast cereals and more – so it is readily available. Yet many still don’t get enough magnesium.



Selected Food Sources of Magnesium (3)
Food Milligrams (mg) per serving Percent DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 15
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium 40 10
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24-27 6-7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, ½ cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12 3
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10 3
Apple, 1 medium 9 2
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7 2


Could YOU Be Magnesium Deficient?

Magnesium deficiency is fairly uncommon because of the impressive ability of our body to deal with shortages. When you are consuming too little magnesium from your diet, as mentioned previously, your body chooses to excrete less of it through urine, as a method to conserve what it can. However, even this remarkable rationing system can only succeed for so long. Because chronic long term low intake of magnesium, or alcoholism or using certain medications leach minerals to a greater degree than your body can compensate for.

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Magnesium deficiency is so dangerous, because the initial symptoms of appetite loss, nausea, vomiting lead to even greater deficiency. The next more serious stage is increased fatigue, weakness, personality changes, muscle contractions and cramps, numbness, tingling, seizures,abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms.

The most severe magnesium deficiencies will start to negatively affect your calcium and potassium levels because mineral homeostasis is disrupted. (4)

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  2. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, 2012.