Which foods contain magnesium?

Magnesium is a macro mineral, which means that it is needed by the body in large amounts so eating magnesium rich foods is important. Calcium, Sodium and Potassium are also macro minerals. The average human body contains approximately 25 g of magnesium, and it is one of the most important minerals that must be supplied in the diet.

However many people do not get a sufficient amount of magnesium. There can be severe health consequences if this is lacking, so here we provide you with a magnesium rich foods list as well as explaining some of the functions this important mineral is involved with.


What is magnesium?

Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that we need in order to stay healthy. It is an inorganic element that comes from the earth. In nature it is found in many different forms, including as magnesium chloride (one of the salts in seawater) and Magnesite, an insoluble rock salt also known as magnesium carbonate. In plants, it is the central element in the green pigment chlorophyll, and therefore is found in all plants to varying degrees. However this does not necessarily mean that green plants are the best source of magnesium.

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps regulate blood glucose levels, supports a healthy immune system and helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function. It also helps in the production of energy and proteins. While it is important to ensure you eat sufficient magnesium rich foods, the body removes any excess magnesium so it is unlikely you will take in too much of this mineral.

RDI Magnesium

  • 420 mg Adult Male
  • 320 mg Adult Female
  • 400 mg – Pregnant women
  • 360 mg – Breastfeeding women
  • 410 mg Male 14-18 years
  • 360 mg Female 14-18 years
  • 240 mg Children 9-13 years
  • 130 mg Children 4-8 years
  • 80 mg Toddler 1-3 years
  • 75 mg Infants 7-12 months
  • 30 mg Infants 0-6 months

How much magnesium do we need?

You now know exactly what magnesium is and how it is used in the human body. We have also mentioned how important magnesium rich foods can be for getting an adequate amount of the essential minerals, but how much magnesium is needed each day? Above to the right is our chart of the RDI for Magnesium. Ideally this will be through magnesium rich foods, however there are other ways to make sure you obtain the required daily amount of magnesium. Unlike some other minerals, it is unlikely that you will take in an excessive amount of magnesium because, as we have already said, the body removes excess amounts. The exception is if you are taking supplements, so be sure to read the label so you know how much you are taking.

Magnesium Rich Foods

Lists of foods that contain magnesium

The best magnesium rich foods

Here are are going to provide a short list of those foods that have the highest magnesium content. All measurements are per 100 g (3.5 oz)

  • Rice bran – 781 milligrams (mg)
  • Seaweed, agar, dried – 770 mg
  • Chives, freeze-dried – 640 mg
  • Spearmint, dried – 602 mg
  • Squash and pumpkin seeds – 534 milligrams
  • Cocoa powder – 499 mg
  • Cottonseed kernels – 440 mg
  • Flax seeds – 392 mg
  • Brazil nuts – 376 mg
  • Safflower seeds, dried – 353 mg
  • Tahini (sesame seed paste) – 353 mg
  • Sesame seeds – 350 mg
  • Sunflower seeds – 346 mg
  • Dark chocolate – 327 mg
  • Wheatgerm – 313 mg
  • Cashew nuts 292 mg
  • Almonds – 268 mg
  • Pine nuts – 251 mg
  • Molasses – 242 mg
  • Lotus seeds, dried – 210 mg

Magnesium rich foods list

Our aim here is to provide you with a list of as many of the foods high in magnesium as possible so that you can ensure that these are included in your everyday diet and thus avoid developing a magnesium deficiency. These magnesium rich foods are broken down by type below. Magnesium content is in milligrams (mg) per 100 g (3.5 oz):


  • Walnuts – 158 mg
  • Hazelnuts – 163 mg
  • Pecans 121 mg
  • Macadamia nuts – 130 mg
  • Pistachio nuts – 121 mg
  • Dry roasted peanuts – 176 mg
  • Peanut butter – 154 mg

Sea food

  • Seaweed, spirulina, dried – 195 mg
  • Halibut – 107 mg
  • Red and black caviar – 300 mg
  • Mollusks – Notably snails, whelks, conch 238 – 250mg
  • Salmon- 122 mg
  • Cod, atlantic – 133 mg
  • Chinook salmon – 122 mg

Dairy products

  • Milk, dried skimmed – 107 mg
  • Goats cheese, hard – 54 mg
  • Buttermilk, dried – 110 mg
  • Parmesan cheese – 38 mg

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Spinach – 87 mg
  • Swiss chard – 81 mg
  • Apricots, dried – 63 mg
  • Black beans – 171 mg
  • Soybeans – 96 mg
  • Sweet peppers -188 mg
  • Lentils – 122 mg
  • Blackeyed Peas – 52 mg
  • Coconut milk, canned – 46 mg
  • Leeks – 161 mg
  • Mushrooms, shiitake – 132 mg

Other foods rich in magnesium

  • Yeast extract (marmite, vegemite) – 180 mg
  • Tofu – 95 mg
  • Whole grain bread – 82 mg
  • Bulgar wheat – 164 mg
  • Pinto beans – 176 mg
  • Oats – 177 mg
  • Rice, brown – 143 mg
  • Wheat, durum – 144 mg
  • Baked beans – 43 mg
  • Spelt – 136 mg
  • Chickpeas – 115 mg
  • Lentils – 122 mg
  • Quinoa 197 mg

One thing that should be noted is that there will be a higher magnesium content in raw foods than those that are cooked.

The above list shows just how many options you have when it comes to including magnesium rich foods in your everyday diet. It also shows how easy it is for people on restricted diets to consume to recommended amount of magnesium.

In order to find out how much magnesium is contained in certain processed foods, all you need to do is look at the label as this should display nutritional information on it as required by governmental health requirements.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms

While magnesium deficiency is quite rare, it is more common in people who absorb less magnesium due to:

  • Burns
  • Certain medications
  • Low blood levels of calcium
  • Problems absorbing nutrients from the intestinal tract (malabsorption)
  • Surgery

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Hyperexcitability
  • Muscle weakness or twitching
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory
  • Reduced ability to learn

If you believe you have a deficiency, be sure to check out our magnesium rich foods list above so you can find out how to get more magnesium into your diet.