Why Foods High In Magnesium Should Be Your New Best Friend

Relaxing in Bathtub

Written by Josey Murray | Edited By: Carol Coutinho & Aditi Khandelwal

February 19, 2021

A new year means it’s about time anxiety peaks and our ability to sleep lessens. After the chaos of the last year, it is so important that we enter the new year with the ability to be resilient in the face of stress and take the time we need to relax and rejuvenate every single day. It’s in the best interest for our health, both physical and mental, to chill out and sleep well. Lucky for you, there is one mineral that can help you do both – magnesium. Most of us are actually deficient in magnesium, a fact that makes sense on account of our gradually increasing levels of stress. In this article, I will outline the impact magnesium has on the body, some foods high in magnesium, and yummy recipes so you can incorporate more magnesium into your daily life.

In the words of Glennon Doyle, “we can do hard things,” especially with the help of magnesium.

What is Magnesium?

According to Medical News Today, magnesium plays a role in “over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body,” and its functions include “helping with muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure, and supporting the immune system.”While I don’t know how many enzyme reactions occur in the body, 300 suggests that magnesium is one of the major ones.  It is one of the seven macrominerals that people need to consume in relatively large amounts every day. Most of the magnesium stored in the body, that is about 50-60%, is stored in the skeletal system, with the rest in the muscles, soft tissues, and bodily fluids.

Did you know that “estimates suggest nearly half of adult men and women in the United States aren’t getting enough magnesium?” (1)

What is Magnesium Good For?

General Benefits

Magnesium contributes to the building of healthy bones directly, but also does so by regulating the calcium and vitamin D levels in the body too. 

It assists in glucose control and insulin metabolism reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Magnesium helps to maintain muscle health, especially the heart. 

It can relieve and prevent migraines. 

Magnesium can improve PMS symptoms – reduce bloating, mood swings, and breast tenderness. (2)


Cognitive Function

Magnesium aids in healthy brain function by acting as the gatekeeper for NMDA receptors involved in brain development, memory, and learning. (3)




Magnesium works as a laxative by drawing water into the intestines. In this way, it functions as an osmotic laxative, softening the stool and making it easier to pass. (4) Magnesium relaxes muscles and in this way allows for the bowels to relax. We’re basically too stressed everywhere so magnesium helps us loosen up in all kinds of ways.

But let’s get back to why some of us really need that boost of magnesium — to chill and to sleep.



How Does Magnesium Help You Chill Out and Sleep Well?

I’ve covered some of the general ways that magnesium encourages the healthy function of different aspects of our bodies. It’s involved in quite a lot, and to no surprise, it is key to deep refreshing sleep and a sense of calm that allows for rejuvenation of mind and body.. 

The macromineral, magnesium, increases GABA, a neurotransmitter that encourages relaxation and sleep. A symptom of magnesium deficiency is insomnia, restless sleep, and waking up frequently in the middle of the night. With more magnesium, your body can respond better to stress, leaving you less in states of heightened anxiety and more in the present. (5)

Woman Chilling and Sleeping

How Much Magnesium Do We Need?

Your body doesn’t make magnesium on its own. The amount you need depends on your age and gender. If you’re a woman age 19 or older, you need 310 milligrams (mg) a day — 350 mg if you’re pregnant. If you’re an adult man under age 30, you need 400 mg a day. After 30, men need 420 mg.” (6)

What Are Some Foods High In Magnesium?

Dark Chocolate



Pumpkin Seeds



Recipe Recommendation

Magnesium Rich Raw Chocolate Bars

Magnesium-Rich Chocolate Bars

These Magnesium-Rich Chocolate Bars combine a number of foods listed above that are high in magnesium. Pumpkin seeds, avocado, dark chocolate, and coconut oil combine for a delicious treat sure to aid in your relaxation. What a perfect way to end a meal!


Moon Juice Magnesi-Om

Moon Juice bridges the world of alchemy and biology for functional benefits.” – Moon Juice

Moon Juice is a fun supplement brand that has a berry-flavored magnesium supplement. Magnesi-Om is specifically for embracing the calming aspects of magnesium. Formulated as a right before bed kind of drink, these sips of berry will pair perfectly with a good book and a calming candle. 

Here’s the product description: 

Restore cellular balance for relaxation, brain health, and sleep.* Our formula contains 3 bioavailable forms of Magnesium for a time-release effect plus L-theanine. Promotes alpha wave activity shown to encourage a focused calm and supports cognitive health.* Instantly dissolves in water, tastes like berries, and sweetened with monk fruit.”

Moon Juice Magnesi-om Supplement


A bottle of calm has been in my parent’s cupboard for as long as I can remember. Strangely, it isn’t used to stay calm though in my house. It’s used usually on Sunday mornings. My dad prepares a large glass of water with several spoons of it to set his system straight if you know what I mean. My own digestive struggles and irregularity, as I’ll put it, has led me to try this home remedy for constipation, but it doesn’t work on me quite as fast as it works on the rest of my family – my system might just be faulty!

But, nonetheless, my digestion struggles have led me to question if I’m getting enough magnesium. After all, if that is the quick fix, maybe I’m not getting enough of the mineral on a daily basis. Now I take a daily supplement, and try to eat my daily oatmeal and avocado toast. I’ve tried to encourage my dad to add more magnesium to his diet on a daily basis rather than leaving Sunday to be magnesium day. I’ll keep you posted as to if he actually does…it’s hard to tell dads what to do.

Calm comes in a flavored or unflavored powder and capsules. It makes your water or whatever you put it in a little fizzy. They also sell fun gummies if you’re into feeling like you’re eating candy. 

Natural Vitality Calm Magnesium Supplement

Different Kinds of Magnesium

Magnesium Citrate – Magnesium bound with citric acid. It’s among the most bioavailable forms. This is the one that is used to treat constipation. It is marketed as calming. 

Magnesium Oxide –  A salt that combines magnesium and oxygen. It is naturally a white powder. IT’s the main ingredient in milk of magnesia which is an over-the-counter medication used to treat constipation. It’s not really absorbed well in the digestive tract so it won’t help a deficiency in magnesium. It is better suited for short term relief for digestive issues and migraines. 

Magnesium Chloride – A magnesium salt that contains chlorine. It makes for a good supplement as the digestive tract absorbs it well. It comes in capsules or tablets but can also come in lotion and ointments to relax sore muscles. 

Magnesium Lactate  – A magnesium salt formed when magnesium binds with lactic acid. It is made by blood and muscle cells but also manufactured as a preservative. It’s easier on the stomach than some of the other types, making it a good form for those who don’t react well to the others. Also, good for anxiety! 

Magnesium Malate – Magnesium and malic acid. Occurs in fruit and wine. Easily absorbed and has less of a laxative effect. 

Magnesium Taurate – Magnesium containing the amino acid, taurine. As a good intake of taurine helps to regulate blood sugar, this is the kind that is good to promote healthy levels of blood sugar. It also supports good blood pressure. 

Magnesium L-threonate – Magnesium salt formed by mixing magnesium and threonic acid. It is easily absorbed. And research says that it may be best for increasing the levels of magnesium in brain cells and is therefore used when treating and managing brain disorders. 

Magnesium Sulfate – aka Epsom Salt. Magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen combined. It is used as a treatment for constipation, but it does have a particularly bad taste. Putting this in your bath water can help soothe muscles and help you relax. All the more reason you should be taking the time for self-care, bubble bath and all. 

Magnesium Glycinate – Elemental Magnesium and the amino acid glycine. The body needs glycine for protein construction. It’s easily absorbed and good for anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. 

Magnesium Orotate – Magnesium with orotic acid. Easily absorbed and without the strong laxative effects of others. It is good for heart health and often used by athletes and fitness people. Watch out though – it’s pretty expensive. (7)

Relaxing bath

So it turns out that magnesium is a bit more complicated than initially thought. What matters most is how well the type is absorbed in the digestive tract and if you are affected by the laxative qualities of some of them. Most of them are pretty helpful with stress and anxiety. And you can even take a soak in a magnesium-rich bath and then rub on some relaxing magnesium-rich lotion, then you could sip on your berry magnesi-om drink, and eat some dark chocolate covered almonds. Okay, maybe don’t do that all at once, but I am sure you can find a way to incorporate at least one of those into your nightly routine to ensure that your night is restful and you are ready to tackle another day in this chaotic world. 


Happy drinking, happy supplementing, happy cooking, and happy bathing with magnesium!

Let us know how magnesium has helped you deal with stress and get a good night’s sleep and what food rich in magnesium is your favorite.

If you’re interested in other ways to keep your stress down, check out some other blog posts on Cook and Culture, including: 

The Magic of Adaptogens: How They Make You Resilient to Stress

How Mushrooms Can Nourish Your Body and Save the World 


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Josey Murray

Written by Josey Murray