Despite the age-old, super-tired stereotype of an angry vegan, science now tells us that those who follow a plant-based diet are actually more relaxed – physically, mentally and emotionally. Why? It all comes down to a super-mineral called magnesium, which is abundant in vegetables, fruits and plant-based foods.

“Magnesium is necessary for over 300 enzymatic systems in the body,” explains celebrity chef and nutritionist, Zoe Bingley-Pullen, “many of which relate to brain and nervous system function.

“It’s well known for its ability to help the body adapt to stress by reducing the release of hormones that lead to over activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which plays a role in our stress response.

“Over activation of this axis is associated with increased stress, which can lead to poor mental health. Magnesium is also a co-factor necessary to synthesise neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. A deficiency in either of these can lead to poor mental health including symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
Naturopath Karina Francois, of infinite Health Practice in Berwick, Victoria (, adds, “magnesium is important for nerve function, muscle relaxation, stress relief, bone mineral density, carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism as well as cellular metabolism.

Not sure if you’re getting adequate amounts? Don’t worry – your body will tell you quickly enough.

“You can tell when you haven’t had enough magnesium as you can start to feel nervy, get twitches and cramps,” explains Karina. “You can also feel depressed, confused, irritated and agitated. Thankfully, with a vegan diet it’s extremely difficult to suffer magnesium deficiency.
Vegan Sources of Magnesium
The Recommended Daily Intake of magnesium varies between genders and age groups. Here’s a good guide, as referenced from the US Department of Health and Human Services*.

Birth – 6 months – 30mg
7 – 12 months – 75mg
1 – 3 years – 80mg
4 – 8 years – 130mg
9 – 13 years – 240mg
14 – 18 years – 410mg
19 – 30 years – 400mg
51+ years – 420mg
31-50 years – 420mg
51+ years – 420mg

Birth to 6 months – 30mg
7-12 months – 75mg
One – 3 years – 80mg
4 – 8 years – 130mg
9 -13 years – 240mg
14 – 18 years – 360 mg (400mg if pregnant and 360mg if lactating)
19 – 30 years – 310 (350mg if pregnant and 310 mg if lactating)
31 – 50years – 320mg (360mg if pregnant and 320mg if lactating)
51+ years – 320 mg

Vegan Foods Rich in Relaxing Magnesium:
100g sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds = 425mg
100g almonds = 260mg
100g cashews = 250mg
100g dried figs = 73mg
100g green or brown cooked lentils = 31mg
100g cooked black beans = 49mg
100g cooked red kidney bean = 30mg
100g cooked chickpeas = 27mg
100g firm tofu = 78mg
100g raw spinach = 68mg
100g raw kale = 15mg
100g raw rocket = 23mg
100g broccoli = 21mg
100g boiled brown rice = 49mg
100g cooked quinoa = 56mg
100g cooked barley = 28mg
100g uncooked oats = 100mg
100g cocoa = 510mg