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Foods that can deplete or increase your magnesium levels

You know at Salt & Oil we LOVE transdermal magnesium, and recommend using it daily to keep your magnesium levels topped up.*

But of course you can also get magnesium from the foods you eat. Here’s a list of foods with good magnesium content. Having said that, modern farming and food-processing practices mean that many foods contain lower levels of nutrients than they used to. And not all of us absorb nutrients effectively.

nuts help top up your magnesium levels Salt & Oil NZ

Also, while some numbers look high, consider how much of that food constitutes a 100g serving. I certainly couldn’t eat that much kelp or wheat bran, even if it was spaced out over the day. 100g of garlic would certainly keep the vampires away!

The magnesium content of common foods, in mg per 100g serving.

From ‘The Magnesium Miracle’, Carolyn Dean.


Mg per 100g serve


Mg per 100g serve



Collard greens


Wheat bran










Cheddar cheese




Sunflower seeds


Brewer's yeast








Brazil nuts


Sweet potato






















Brown rice






Green peppers


Be aware that cooking, boiling, processing and refining food can deplete its magnesium content.


There are also some foods and drinks that are not only low in magnesium, they actually steal magnesium from your body’s supplies!

The 5 main culprits are:

Foods that are high in sugar, particularly refined and processed sugar, and also diet products like aspartame. In the process of digesting and metabolising sugar, your body uses some of its supply of minerals, including magnesium.

Trans fats. Low-quality, high-fat foods like crisps, hot chips, biscuits and doughnuts may reduce the absorption of magnesium. These foods have no health benefits so it’s best we keep them to a minimum anyway. Though that can be tricky. I certainly make poor choices far too often! As an aside, I have noticed that I lose my sweet tooth when I’m getting lots of magnesium.

sugary food depletes your magnesium levels so top up with magnesium oil spray NZ

Fizzy drinks and processed foods like hot dogs that contain phosphoric acid. This binds with magnesium to make magnesium phosphate, which is insoluble and therefore cannot be absorbed.

Caffeine. Caffeine isn’t necessarily bad. For example cacao that contains healthy antioxidants also contains caffeine. But caffeine does deplete your magnesium levels so just be aware of this. Tannins in tea are also known to bind to and remove minerals from your body.

Alcohol. This diuretic causes magnesium to be rapidly excreted in your urine.


Did you know there are some foods that are healthy, and that we should eat regularly, but that also happen to block your body's absorption of magnesium? For example, foods that are high in dietary fibre. You definitely want to keep eating these foods, but just something to be aware of.

spinach can deplete your magnesium so best to cook it first nz bath soaks

Oxalic acid in spinach and silverbeet can form insoluble compounds with magnesium, causing it to be eliminated from, rather than absorbed into, your body. Cooking these vegetables can remove most of the oxalic acid.

Seed hulls and grain bran contain phytic acid which has a similar effect on your magnesium levels. You can soak the grains and seeds for 12 hours to help remove the acid. But you obviously can’t do this if the grains are in, say, your loaf of bread!

Soy beans are also high in phytic acid, and cooking won’t remove it. This happens only when the soy product is fermented, for example in miso and tempeh.

tempeh fermented soy won't deplete your magnesium nz bath soaks


What about taking an oral magnesium supplement?

Magnesium requires good levels of stomach acid to be absorbed. Some people with digestive issues such as bloating or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may not have a good amount of hydrochloric acid to absorb the magnesium well.

Being under high levels of physical or emotional stress can also lower your levels of stomach acid in a way that can affect how your body changes minerals like magnesium into absorbable forms.

Do you take antacids to deal with heartburn and indigestion? By neutralizing your stomach acid with these, it actually becomes less likely that your body can absorb beneficial minerals properly.

magnesium pills oral supplement magnesium oil bath soak nz

We’ve heard from some of our customers (and I’ve experienced it myself) that they simply don’t like taking magnesium tablets because they are so large and tricky to swallow. When they get stuck in your throat it takes quite a while for the sensation to go away. I’ve tried the powdered forms too but don’t like the sweet, fake flavours. And at the end of the day, they still have to go through your gut, where the amount of magnesium absorbed can fluctuate greatly.

When you absorb magnesium through your skin, such as in an Epsom salt bath or using magnesium oil, it doesn’t have to be processed by, and potentially depleted in your digestive system. This method helps to greatly increase the amount of magnesium in your body’s tissues, without leading to issues like loose stools. You body will absorb only what it needs so it’s a safe, simple way to top up your magnesium levels.


So which would be your favourite way of getting a transdermal top up of magnesium?

A 20 minute relaxing soak in a warm bath with Epsom salt?

Or taking 20 seconds to massage magnesium oil into your skin?

Or both?!

salt and oil nz magnesium oil spray for sore muscles and magnesium flakes to relax and get better sleep

If you'd like to give them a go, here's a bit of a sneaky one - normally when you sign up to our Weekly Soak we send you a Buy 2 Get 1 Free code. But we'll give it to you here today anyway - enter SOAK at checkout for your deal.

We deliver within New Zealand only.

Please note that this blog does not constitute medical advice. You may wish to speak with your preferred health care professional about the suitability of transdermal magnesium oil for your situation.

People with kidney issues do need to take caution when using salt products like this.

* Recommended Daily Allowances for magnesium is 320mg for women and 420mg for men (The Magnesium Miracle, Carolyn Dean).

6 sprays of Salt & Oil Magnesium Oil gives you roughly 100mg of elemental magnesium.


At Salt & Oil we make magnesium-filled bath soaks and magnesium oil sprays to help you relax and feel good. And we support other NZ businesses by stocking their well-being gifts.

If you'd like to find out more, and be in to win our monthly gift draw, sign up to our Weekly Soak email for offers and info:

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