Magnesium in Your Diet

This information explains how to get the daily recommended amount of magnesium you need to stay healthy.

This information explains how to add the right amount of magnesium to your diet to stay healthy.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral in the body that:

  • Helps keep your heart rhythm steady
  • Helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function
  • Works with other minerals to maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Helps keep you healthy

The best way to add magnesium to your diet is through different foods. You can also get magnesium as a supplement orally (by mouth) or intravenously (IV, through a vein).

Low levels of magnesium in the body can be caused by:

  • Chronic (long-term) or excessive vomiting (throwing up) or diarrhea (loose or watery bowel movements)
  • Having problems absorbing nutrients in the stomach or kidneys
  • Not eating enough food with magnesium
  • Taking some medications, such as certain diuretics (medications that help you urinate (pee)), antibiotics, thyroid medications, proton pump inhibitors, or chemotherapies. These medications can increase the loss of magnesium through urine (pee).
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How much magnesium do I need every day?

If your magnesium level is low, your doctor, nurse practitioner (NP), or physician assistant (PA) may give you a prescription for a magnesium supplement to take by mouth or you may be given it through an IV.

The table below from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows the daily recommended amounts of magnesium for children and adults.

Age
(years)
Males
(mg/day)
Females
(mg/day)
Pregnant Females
(mg/day)
Lactating Females
(mg/day)
1 to 3 80 80 N/A* N/A
4 to 8 130 130 N/A N/A
9 to 13 240 240 N/A N/A
14 to 18 410 360 400 360
19 to 30 400 310 350 310
31 to 50 420 320 360 320
51 or older 420 320 N/A N/A
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What are food sources of magnesium?

Eating foods with magnesium can help increase the amount in your body. Eating a variety of whole grains, legumes (such as peas and beans), and dark green, leafy vegetables every day will help you get your daily recommended amount of magnesium. You can also get magnesium from drinking water. Water, including tap, mineral, or bottled, can have up to 120 mg of magnesium, depending on the brand of water and where it came from. The table below lists foods and the amount of magnesium in each one.

 

Food

Serving Size

Amount of Magnesium (mg)

 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

Shredded wheat cereal

2 rectangular biscuits

61

15

Soymilk (plain, vanilla)

1 cup

61

15

Black beans (cooked)

½ cup

60

15

Soybeans (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

11

Potato (baked with skin)

3.5 ounces

43

11

Yogurt, plain, low fat

8 ounces

42

11

Brown rice (long-grain, cooked)

½ cup

42

11

*N/A=Not Applicable

**DV=Daily Value. A DV is a percentage of the total daily recommended amount. A food that provides 20% of the DV per serving is high in magnesium.

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How can I speak with a dietitian?

If you have any questions or concerns about your diet while you’re in the hospital, ask to see a dietitian. You can also call 212-639-7312 to speak to or schedule an appointment with a dietitian.

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