Magnesium is the fourth most-abundant essential mineral in the body. Roughly 50 – 60% of magnesium is located in your bones where it plays a fundamental role in skeletal health and development. The other half or so of your body’s magnesium can be found in your muscles and other soft tissues.

As mentioned, magnesium is an essential nutrient, which means you need it yet can’t make it on your own, and that means you have to get it from food and/or supplements.

To understand just how mission-critical magnesium is, consider this: Magnesium is necessary for the functioning of over 300 enzymes, which are linchpins for a long list of metabolic reactions in the body, such as energy production, bone metabolism, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve transmission, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.

That’s a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo, but what it means to you is that magnesium is imperative to feeling energetic, achieving peak mental and physical performance, and looking young and vibrant.

To more deeply understand how important magnesium is, let’s look at it through a different lens and consider some of the top signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium:

  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • Feeling stressed out, worried, and anxious
  • Poor-quality or interrupted sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Muscle cramps
  • Depressed feelings of well-being
  • Poor appetite management
  • Feeling queasy or nauseous
  • Tingling in hands, feet, fingers, or toes
  • Headaches

But sadly, most people—we’re talking at least 75% of folks—don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. (For women, that’s a minimum of 320mg per day, and for men, that’s 420mg per day at the minimum.) And when you consider that all the following contribute to suboptimal levels of magnesium, it’s easy to see why virtually everyone is missing the mark on this mission-critical nutrient:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Low-carb diets
  • Mineral-depleted soil
  • “Anti-nutrients”
  • Excess calcium intake
  • Digestive-related issues
  • Exercise
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Caffeine intake
  • Stress
  • Getting older
  • Certain medications

(Oh, as if the symptoms of magnesium deficiency weren’t bad enough, guess what happens when you’re not getting enough magnesium? Your body starts leaching it from bones, muscles, and other soft tissues, which are the its main reserves.)

So, where can you find magnesium? Generally speaking, the best sources of magnesium are dark green leafy vegetables, fish, almonds, legumes, and whole grains. Here’s a glimpse of selected foods sources and their respective magnesium content:

  • Halibut, cooked, 3 oz. (90mg)
  • Almonds, dry roasted, 1 oz. (80mg)
  • Cashews, dry roasted, 1 oz. (75mg)
  • Spinach, frozen or cooked, ½ cup (75mg)
  • Potato, dry roasted, 1 medium (50mg)
  • Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 oz. (50mg)
  • Yogurt, plain, 1 cup (45mg)
  • Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup (40mg)
  • Avocado, puréed, ½ cup (35mg)
  • Kidney beans, ½ cup (35mg)
  • Banana, raw, 1 medium (30mg)