Eye on Nutrition: Magnesium

Food Packages Nutrition Education

WIC food packages and nutrition education are the chief means by which WIC affects the dietary quality and habits of participants. Did you know that these two benefits are among the top reasons for continued participation in WIC (in addition to the work of WIC personnel!), and that consistent 4-year participation in WIC was associated with better diet quality?

Eye on Nutrition brings focus to the foods and nutrients in the WIC food packages to shine a light on their importance to WIC participants. Given that magnesium is needed for normal growth and development and is also found in many WIC-eligible foods, we’re magnifying magnesium’s profile.

Be sure to check out magnesium-rich recipes members of the WIC community have shared with us.

What is Magnesium and Why is it Important?
What WIC-Eligible Foods Provide Magnesium?
Is Magnesium on the Nutrition Facts Label?
Education Resources

 

What is Magnesium and Why is it Important?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is found in many foods and has a variety of functions. It’s essential during all life stages, including those of the WIC population. Magnesium is needed for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, building bones and teeth, keeping the immune system healthy, and making energy and protein for the body. Having adequate magnesium in the diet might make some health conditions less severe.

  • High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. It can cause severe problems for the mother and the developing baby. Along with a diet rich in potassium, calcium, fiber and protein and low in saturated and trans fats and sodium, getting enough magnesium daily can benefit women who suffer from high blood pressure before, during and after pregnancy.
  • Magnesium's role in bone and dental health makes this nutrient important for infants, children, and adolescents when bone mass is being built.

 

What WIC-Eligible Foods Provide Magnesium?

A number of WIC-eligible foods contain magnesium, though not all foods may be available in every State, U.S. Territory, or Indian Tribal Organization due to the flexibility they have in selecting foods for their WIC food packages. Among the WIC-eligible foods that provide magnesium are:

  • Legumes, particularly black, lima, navy, pinto, and garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and black-eyed peas
  • Peanut butter
  • Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens
  • Potatoes
  • Soybeans (edamame)*
  • Fruits, particularly bananas and avocados as well as some dried fruits, like raisins and apricots
  • Whole grains
  • Some fortified breakfast cereals
  • Milk, milk products and milk substitutions
    • Cow and goat milk (fluid, shelf-stable, evaporated, or dry)
    • Cultured, acidified and lactose-reduced/lactose free milks
    • Yogurt
    • Soy beverage
    • Tofu
  • Canned fish

*Technically soybeans are in the legume category, but they can be purchased with the CVV/B since they are only available in fresh and frozen forms, so we included them here!

Food sources beyond those in the WIC food packages that have magnesium include nuts (almond, cashews, peanuts) and seeds (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds). In general, foods containing dietary fiber provide magnesium. Encouraging participants to eat a variety of these foods on a regular basis will help them get the magnesium that they need!

 

Certain foods in general can be challenging for young children to chew since they're still learning how to chew food properly. Parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of choking by preparing food in certain ways.

 

 

Is Magnesium on the Nutrition Facts Label?

It’s voluntary for manufacturers to list magnesium on the Nutrition Facts label. If it's on the label, it’ll be listed using milligrams (mg) and % Daily Value (% DV).  

The % DV (how much a nutrient in a single serving of an individual packaged food or dietary supplement contributes to your daily diet) can be helpful to make comparisons between products (as long as serving sizes are the same) and informed choices.

Read more about the Daily Value:

Daily Value and % Daily Value

The Lows and Highs of Percent Daily Value on the new Nutrition Facts Label

 

Education Resources

The Nutrition Facts label fact sheets for vitamins and minerals provide action steps for consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals (including magnesium) and charts that identify food sources of each vitamin and mineral.

MyPlate offers dairy, fruits, vegetables, protein foods and grains nutrition education resources, including galleries for each of these food groups, as well as interactive resources for participants to:

  • Take the MyPlate Quiz to see how their eating habits stack up against recommendations and get tailored resources and a personal quiz results code to sync with the Start Simple with MyPlate app.
  • Set simple goals based on their personal needs with the Start Simple with MyPlate app. Sync results from the MyPlate Quiz for a personalized experience.  Join challenges, see progress, and earn badges to celebrate successes.
  • Test their Food Group IQ with fun quizzes.
  • Hear healthy eating solutions from families via videos, and download Food Planning During the Coronavirus Pandemic (in English and Spanish).
  • Find activity sheets for kids, including bingo, coloring sheets and a food critic activity to help kids try new fruits, vegetables, or a new recipe.
  • Get MyPlate nutrition tips for your baby or toddler on Amazon Alexa devices or the free Alexa app.

An updated toolkit for health professionals with consumer-friendly fact sheets based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is available online. Visit the toolkit for resources such as Build a Healthy Eating Routine and Cut Down on Added Sugars.