27 Jul 2010

Magnesium in a Vegan Diet

Magnesium is extremely necessary for good health, being one of the major elements required by our body. Like all minerals, magnesium cannot be made in our body and must therefore be plentiful in our diet. Thankfully, even with soils depleted of minerals and further loss of nutrition during transportation, most Vegans, eating a balanced diet, should find that it provides enough magnesium.

Not only is magnesium necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, protein and amino acids, it is essential for maintaining normal nerve and muscle functioning, ensures strong bones, keeps our blood circulating properly and is important for the secretion of parathyroid hormones. Magnesium has also been called Nature's tranquillizer.

Although not common, magnesium deficiency can be caused by consumption of large amounts of fats, alcoholism, excess calcium, vitamin D or zinc supplements,  antibiotics, gastrointestinal problems,  poorly controlled diabetes, diuretics, over exercising, and other factors. The result being that this could cause muscle cramps, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, migraine headaches,  imbalanced blood sugar levels, raised blood pressure and in severe cases even abnormal heart rhythms.

Most vegetable based foods contain reasonable amounts of magnesium, here are some examples:
almonds                                 1/4 cup      168mg
avocado                                 1 med        70 to 100mg
banana                                   1 med        33mg
barley cooked whole grain       1/2 cup      61mg
black beans boiled                   1/2 cup      61mg
blackstrap molasses                 1 tbsps      48mg
Brown long grain rice cooked   1/2 cup      42mg
cashew nuts                            1/4 cup      148mg
chocolate dark-75-85% cacao 1 bar/101gms 230mg
corn cooked                             1/2 cup      26mg
flax seeds                                2 tbsps       70mg
lentils boiled                             1/2 cup       36mg
millet whole grain cooked          1/2 cup      53mg
oats bran                                  1/2 cup      96mg
peanut butter natural                 2 tbsps       51mg
potato unpeeled baked              1 potato      55mg
quinoa cooked                          1/2 cup       59mg
soybeans boiled                        1/2 cup       74mg
spinach boiled                           1/2 cup      79mg
Swiss chard boiled                    1/2 cup      76mg
tempeh                                     1/2 cup      58mg
tofu                                          1/2 cup      127mg
tomato raw                               1 med        13mg
wheat germ                              1/4 cup      69mg
zucchini boiled                          1/2 cup      19mg

Recommended Dietary Allowances for magnesium differ slightly depending on who set up the lists but basically the most common mentioned are children under 13 years old 80mg to 240mgs and teenagers and adults from 310mgs to 420mgs. If you feel you are not absorbing sufficient magnesium from your foods and wish to take a supplement it is important to take the right kind of magnesium which is magnesium citrate malate. It is significantly easier to absorb and gentler on your gut.

Over cooking can reduce magnesium content of foods so make sure that you include raw, lightly steamed or quickly stir fried dishes in your meal plans. As far as nuts are concerned there is very little loss of magnesium either from roasting or from processing whole nuts into butters.

Why not enjoy the treat of small slab of dark chocolate and know you are getting a nice boost of magnesium.

Magnesium Rich Recipes

Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse
From California Avocado
Recipe Provided By Chef Kimberly Morabito, Table Nectar (Oakland, CA)

2 ¾ oz raw cashews (soaked 3 hours)
3 oz extra virgin coconut oil
6 oz agave nectar
6 oz cold purified water
2 oz unsweetened cacao powder
¾ oz organic, Non-GMO soy lecithin granules
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
 ¼ tsp ground cardamom
? tsp sea salt
1 large Fresh California Avocado (8oz), pitted, peeled and coarsely chopped

Drain the soaked cashews. Place all ingredients except the avocado into a food processor or high-powered blender.  Process until smooth. Add the chopped avocado to mixture and process while occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl until mixture is silky smooth. Divide mixture evenly into 6 bowls or glasses.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to set before serving.  For a much firmer mousse, refrigerate 8 hours or more.  Serve.   Serves : 6  Yield : 3-1/2 cups

Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds
Adapted from the Vegetarian Times
This salad is perfect for picnics because it's filling and won't get soggy. It also works well with couscous or bulgur.

1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups spinach leaves
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved, or 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/3-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 15oz / 425gms can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
3 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 350F/177C. Spread almonds on baking sheet, and toast 7 to 10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, or until golden brown. Cool. Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in pot over medium-high heat. Stir in quinoa. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and cool, covered, in pot. Lay 5 or 6 spinach leaves flat on top of one another on cutting board. Roll tightly into cylinder, then slice into slivers. Repeat with remaining spinach. Toss together quinoa, almonds, spinach, cherries, cucumber, chickpeas and red onion in large serving bowl. Whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in small bowl. Pour over salad, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill 30 minutes to allow flavours to develop, then serve. Serves 6.

Brown Rice and Black Beans
From Rodale where health meets green.    

1 1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
ground black pepper

In a 10"/25cm no-stick skillet over medium-high heat, combine the beans, rice, tomatoes, cumin and garlic. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are hot. Add the cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

Further reading:
Magnesium Food Chart 
Magnesium: The Lamp of Life   
Use Tips from David Wolfe to Increase Bone Density


rifyraina said...

Magnesium is an important mineral in the daily metabolic processes in all of us. The mineral is needed in every cell of the body. Symptom solve magnesium deficiency can also include increased menstrual cramps, urinary spasms, difficulty swallowing provoked by eating sugar, photophobia, noise sensitivity, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, Agoraphobia.

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Mihl said...

I think I never have problems getting in enough magnesium. But I'm still trying your recipes.

Michelle said...

I'm not a vegan, but eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I have a lot of serious nutrient deficiencies because of auto immune disease (most especially B12, iron, and D), and really have to pick foods that are going to help counteract them.

I love raw foods, vegetarian dishes, and all things healthy and nutritious. I'm so glad to have found your blog, it's great. I've subscribed to your feed, and will definitely be back.

Michelle @

agreenearth said...

More special recipes. Like your dark chocolate suggestion.

Marion said...

I have been told I have a magnesium deficiency as a result of the medications I'm on. I have tried the supplements; they make me constipated. So thank you for the list of foods which I will be sure to include in my diet a bit more...especially the dark chocolate!!!

urban vegan said...

With all the veggies I eat, I doubt I will ever be magnesium deficient!

myguetschow said...

Excellent article! I went right to my vitamins and took a magnesium tablet. Thank you for such wonderful posts!

Also... thank you for putting my blog on your blog roll... I appreciate it. :-)

Morgan@LittleHouseofVeggies said...

What a wonderful blog you have! With lots of great information!

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Unknown said...

It's funny how many people forget about things like magnesium and probiotics.

Rosemary said...

I kept a diary of all my foods for over a year on FitDay, and I was always low on Magnesium. When I questioned my doctor he was not concerned at all. But I am. Thanks for this article. But I wonder why it says boiled spinach. We eat raw spinach almost every day.

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Erik said...

I've been looking for an avocado mousse recipe! I can't wait to try this one. Sounds delicious!

I've been visiting your blog for years and have been inspired by your recipes and articles.

We switched to eating raw vegan about 3 months ago and have been searching for more ideas. Thanks for the inspiration, again.

Bry Greene said...

I love avocado and I'd really like to try the avocado mousse :) Also, we shouldn't forget probiotics, which is commonly found on fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. You can read more about probiotics here:

Dainard said...

Hello friends,

Magnesium is of key importance to human health. It participates in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, and it is particularly important when it comes to ensuring the health of the heart and bones. Thanks a lot...

Magnesium Supplement