A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Mighty magnesium – an essential mineral

Spinach salad with cranberries and almondsCertain vitamins and minerals steal the limelight when it comes to well-known nutrients your body needs.

Vitamins C and D and minerals like calcium and potassium get lots of play for the health benefits they provide but don’t overlook the power of magnesium, for it is mighty.

Magnesium is a co-factor in more than 300 enzymes that produce the body’s power to “keep the lights on and motor humming.”

“Magnesium has a role in regulating multiple body functions such as blood sugar control, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and heart rhythm. It’s required for energy production and involved in cell growth and manufacturing,” said Rhonda Seifert, a Marshfield Clinic dietitian and certified diabetes educator. “Deficiency is uncommon.”

Magnesium-rich super foods

Natural sources of magnesium are best for maximum absorption, said Seifert. Foods naturally rich in magnesium include:

  • Almonds, cashews and peanuts.
  • Spinach, black beans, avocadoes and baked potatoes.
  • Fortified cereal, peanut butter, whole-grain bread and brown rice.
  • Soy milk and yogurt.

“It’s not a nutrient you need to combine with another to get the full nutritional benefit, like calcium plus vitamin D,” Seifert said.

If you choose to use supplement sources for magnesium those may include gastrointestinal products like Milk of Magnesia or antacids.

“But magnesium supplements can interact with certain medications, so it’s important to let your doctor know if you plan to use these,” Seifert said. “In supplement form it’s also possible to get too much.”

Kidneys help prevent magnesium deficiency

Your kidneys actually are magnesium regulators.

“It’s their job to prevent magnesium from leaving the body,” Seifert said. “Because magnesium-rich supplements can affect absorption, they also may affect slow-release or long-acting medications such as certain osteoporosis or antibiotic therapies. If you’re taking a diuretic for high blood pressure, the opposite affect may occur, increasing the loss of magnesium.”

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, muscle cramps and abnormal heart rhythm. People most at risk for magnesium deficiency include those with gastrointestinal disease, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, alcohol dependency and the elderly if taking acid-reducing medications.

Daily requirements for magnesium are 400-420 mg per day for men ages 19-50+ and 310-320 mg per day for women ages 19-50+.

Try this salad recipe that contains natural, high-nutrition sources of magnesium.

Cranberry Spincah SaladCranberry Spinach Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 8


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains about 338 calories; 5 g protein; 58 mg sodium; 30 g carbohydrates

Source: allrecipes.com

Find more recipes at shine365.marshfieldclinic.org


  1. Apr 1, 2016
  2. Oct 4, 2015

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