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Discover the role of magnesium in the body and how to get enough in your diet.

Key points

  • Magnesium helps control a range of important bodily processes, including muscle and nerve function and blood flow.
  • Good sources of magnesium include seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
  • Magnesium supplements are not needed for a healthy person who is eating a well-balanced diet.

What is magnesium and what does it do?

Magnesium is an important mineral in the body. It helps the body produce enzymes to break down food to give us energy. It helps regulate our blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as muscle and nerve function. Magnesium also plays a role in making proteins in our body and keeping our bones strong.

Sources of magnesium and how to get enough

Magnesium is found naturally in many foods. Some foods that are rich in magnesium are seeds, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and fish. Typically, foods that are high in fibre are also good sources of magnesium.

Tips

Try wilting or gently pan cooking raw spinach. This makes it easier to eat more of it and use it as an ingredient in recipes. You'll also get more nutrients this way because you're evaporating a lot of the water in the spinach.

Whole grain products, leafy greens and meat and legumes. Nuts and seeds not recommended for children under 4 years

(!) Not recommended for children under four due to choking risk

How much do we need?

Magnesium recommendations*

AgeAmount per day (milligrams/day)
Birth – 6 months30 mg
7 – 12 months75 mg
1 – 3 years80 mg
4 – 8 years130 mg
9 – 13 years240 mg
14 – 18 years (male)
14 – 18 years (female)
410 mg
360 mg
19+ years (male)
19+ years (female)
400 – 420 mg
310 – 320 mg

*These recommendations are presented here simply as a guide to help you make informed food choices.

How much magnesium can I find in a serving of food?

Examples of food sourcesAmount of magnesium (mg)
Almonds, 1 ounce80 mg
Spinach, cooked80 mg
Chia seeds, 1 ounce110 mg
Pumpkin seeds, 1 ounce155 mg
Whole grain brown rice, ½ cup45 mg
Salmon, 3 ounces30 mg

Supplements

  • A healthy individual following Canada's Food Guide does not need a magnesium supplement.
  • It is best to get the magnesium you need from foods.

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Last updated: March 30th 2023