Low Levels of Magnesium May Increase Risk of Weight Struggles



It seems everywhere I look, folks are talking about how using food as medicine can help solve weight struggles.  Okay, so mostly I’m looking at professional nutrition journals.  Everything is relative….

Still, it’s exciting how much research is pointing to nutritional deficiencies as major players in the development of problematic obesity.*  Because that moves the discussion beyond the tiresome calories in vs. calories out story to one that looks deeper at what may be going on inside a person’s body that drives what we see on the outside.

Take the review article “Magnesium, inflammation, and obesity in chronic disease” in this month’s issue of Nutrition Reviews. The upshot of it is that about 60% of adults in the US do not consume the estimated average requirement for magnesium, and “low magnesium status has been associated with numerous pathological conditions characterized as having a chronic inflammatory stress component.”  Problematic obesity is one of those conditions.

It’s a complicated story that points to low magnesium as just one among many potential causes of chronic inflammation as well as to the fact that other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and phytonutrients from foods like blueberries, cherries and green tea can help ameliorate inflammation that may arise from low magnesium intakes.  Which underscores the importance of using food as the basis for healing health problems, instead of individual nutrients (although supplementation can help if it’s used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan).

The good news is that some pretty tasty foods are rich in magnesium:

  • pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
  • greens like spinach and swiss chard
  • beans
  • a  variety of fish
  • raspberries
  • watermelon
  • and many more foods.

Our Grilled Salmon with Sesame Glaze is a delicious example of a magnesium-rich healthy recipe. Also check out one of my favorite sites for a list of other good food sources of magnesium.


*I came up with the term “problematic obesity” in an attempt to distinguish higher levels of body fat that don’t appear to cause any health problems from those that do.  It’s an ongoing discussion among advocates of Health at Every Size whether the term “obesity” should even be used because it implies a health problem when we know some people can be larger and be perfectly healthy.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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