Magnesium is an essential mineral, it’s the 4th most abundant in the body, and plays many crucial roles. It’s involved in over 300 activities in the body, like:

  • muscle function
  • nerve function
  • bone health
  • sleep
  • Vitamin D
  • energy production and more.

Best foods for magnesium?

I prefer to take a “food first” approach with my clients, so let’s talk about where we find it naturally – what I call “mighty magnesium” foods.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, pumpkin seed kernels are one of the best sources of magnesium. One (1) ounce will bring you 168mg, about half of the daily recommended amount for women at 310-320mg. Add in an ounce of almonds and an ounce of cashews and that brings you up another 154mg, so in one snack you can get there in terms of daily magnesium requirements.

But, it is believed that the small intestine can absorb about 30-40% of magnesium at a time, so magnesium rich foods throughout the day will be the better strategy for giving the cells what they need to function.

When we think of it this way, about 40% at a time, I like to do more with less. So, make a mix of a snack that has these mighty magnesium foods so you’re not looking for all the sources all the time. Variety is important, yes, for other minerals, nutrients and such, but in terms of magnesium specifically, adding this mix in to a salad or as a stand alone snack are two options.

Looking for more Magnesium food ideas? Download the Magnesium Menu.

Download a sample menu for a week here to get some more ideas on how to get more magnesium into your daily details.

But, there are a few different types that each have their own benefits. It’s not cookie cutter, nothing is when it comes to health. What works for you might not be right for me.

What I Talk To My Clients About Most When It Comes To Magnesium

  • Constipation / Bowel Movements
  • Sleep
  • Energy
  • Fatigue

Constipated? Look into Magnesium Citrate

This form is one of the most commonly used supplements due to its absorption and bioavailability. Magnesium citrate is best known for its ability to promote bowel movements, making it a popular choice for those seeking relief from occasional constipation. Taking this as a relief from constipation may bring on mild diarrhea and stomach discomfort. As with any supplement, side effects are possible. It’s important to discuss with your provider what’s best for you.

If you’re not having a bowel movement daily, then it’s likely more than just getting more magnesium into your daily details.

Magnesium Oxide is another form of magnesium that’s used commonly as a laxative for occasional constipation, but because it’s not absorbed as well, it’s not the better choice if you’re looking to increase your magnesium levels.

Looking for better sleep? Magnesium Glycinate

Some studies suggest that magnesium deficiency may affect quality of sleep. So, what to choose?

Magnesium glycinate. This form is known to be more gentle and less likely to cause GI issues, so if you aren’t constipated and you’re looking for relaxation and sleep support, then magnesium glycinate could be an option. This form is known for its high absorption. If there is a magnesium deficiency, (it’s believed that about 2/3 of the Western population is deficient in magnesium) this form is usually recommended.

Magnesium oxide. This is another option, however it’s not as well absorbed as the glycinate form. Having trouble with staying asleep or having poor quality of sleep? This form may work, but if I have the choice I’d go with glycinate over oxide, better bang for the buck so to speak.

Magnesium L-threonate was developed specifically from magnesium and threonic acid, which comes from the breakdown of Vitamin C.

Scientists at MIT developed and tested a special compound called magnesium-L-threonate and found it boosted brain magnesium levels.

It was designed to enhance brain health, as it’s able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

It may also benefit sleep, too. Nearly half of older adults have difficulty with sleep. Whether it’s quality or length, both factors affect sleep and how you may feel the next day when upon waking. Research suggests that this form of magnesium may help improve memory, learning, and cognitive function. It has gained popularity for its potential benefits in supporting neurological health.

Better sleep lends itself to better focus, memory.

The most important hours of the day are your sleeping hours. They’ll set you up for success or struggle the next day

Kate Ricciardi, DPT RDN CLT

Medical Disclaimer

This content is strictly the opinion of RD Nutrition Consulting, LLC and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal health care provider. All readers/viewers/listeners/consumers of this content are advised to consult their own personal health care provider and/or practitioner for specific health questions, especially before beginning anything new and/or making changes to their current healthcare. RD Nutrition Consulting, LLC does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content.