Magnesium – maybe the one nutrient you’re not getting enough of?

Do you eat well? Think you’re ticking all the nutrition boxes? Unless you are eating the particulars, you may not be meeting your magnesium requirements.

Magnesium functions

Magnesium is a mineral that is abundant in any healthy body. It is involved in over 300 chemical processes, hopefully happening in you right now. Some of these include:

  • Energy production

  • Protein synthesis

  • Blood glucose control

  • Blood pressure regulation

  • DNA synthesis

  • Muscle contraction

  • Normal heart rhythm

  • Nervous transmission

The adult body contains about 25g of Magnesium with up to 60% of this found in the bones and most of the rest of it, found in soft tissues, like skeletal muscle.

Magnesium balance

Your kidneys manage magnesium balance in the body, with most of us urinating ~120mg out into the toilet each day. If you’re not consuming enough , you're body is quite clever at conserving it by reducing urinary excretion.

Magnesium tests

You can get your magnesium levels checked through blood testing, however your blood levels of magnesium have little correlation with your overall total body magnesium levels... So blood tests may not be the best marker to check for healthy magnesium status. For a more comprehensive analysis, it would be advised to have lab tests checked with a thorough clinical assessment, including detailed diet history.

How much magnesium do you need?

Age male female pregnant

14-18years 410mg 360mg 400mg

19-30years 400mg 310mg 350mg

>31years 420mg 320mg 360mg

Those at high risk of magnesium deficiency

  • Gastrointestinal disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease, Celiac Disease)

  • Small intestine surgery

  • Type 2 diabete

  • Alcohol dependence

  • Elderly

  • Malnutrition

Signs of severe magnesium deficiency

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Muscular weakness

  • Low energy

  • Weight loss

  • Muscle spasms

  • Hyper-irritability, -excitability

  • Tetany

  • Convulsions

Magnesium rich food sources

Pumpkin seeds

Sunflower seeds






Wholemeal spaghetti


Black beans

Soy milk

Dried figs


Brewers yeast

In general, foods containing dietary fibre are good sources of magnesium, and foods that are processed often contain very little.

How to add a bit more magnesium into your day?

1. Throw some pumpkin seeds, almonds and bran into your breakfast cereal.

2. Replace your margarine with tahini, or drizzle some tahini over your veggies.

3. Include a cup of legumes, such as black beans or kidney beans, with your salad or stir-fry.

4. Snack on nuts.