A Delicious Bone-Building Burrito: Each Ingredient Is A Rich Source Of Magnesium Or Manganese - Save Our Bones

Variety is the spice of life, and Savers know that bone-healthy nutrition does not have to be boring. That's why today we are bringing you one of our favorite recipes: Bone-Building Burritos.

The legend of the beloved burrito has been shared by many, but if you have not heard it yet, here it is.

In the early 1900s, during the Mexican Revolution, a man by the name of Juan Mendez had a small food business in Chihuahua, Mexico. In an attempt to keep his food warm, he wrapped it in a tortilla. As the legend goes, a donkey, or burro (in Spanish), was used as a means of transporting his food. Hence, the diminutive form would be a burrito.

Our Bone-Building Burrito recipe has no less than twelve Foundation Foods, all wrapped neatly together. Also, every single ingredient included in the recipe contains either magnesium or manganese – both of which are bone-building superstars!

Magnesium: A Key-Mineral For Bone Health

Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, is an essential element and it is required to synthesize glutathione, the Master Antioxidant. Stored in our organs, muscles, and bones, this Foundation Supplement is responsible for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, including the regulation of biochemical reactions, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.1,2 In addition to being responsible for cellular energy production, magnesium is required for the synthesis of the genetic molecules DNA and RNA.

Magnesium is necessary for the active transport of ions, such as potassium and calcium, across cell membranes. In this role, it affects muscle contraction, the conduction of nerve impulses, and normal heart rhythms.

While magnesium is a rock-star in and of itself, it shines even brighter when paired with calcium. Their relationship is complex, but once understood, it displays the importance of the two working in synergy. Magnesium is responsible for balancing calcitonin and PTH, two hormones that directly affect the bone. Calcitonin, produced by the thyroid, stimulates the absorption of calcium into the bones. PTH, produced by the parathyroid, removes calcium from the bones and deposits it in other tissues. As you can see, magnesium significantly impacts the structural development of bones.

Our bodies contain approximately 25 grams of magnesium, with 60% stored in bone.3 The remaining magnesium is typically found in soft tissue, with only 1% in blood serum. As such, it is difficult to measure a magnesium deficiency, which can lead to heart problems, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even migraines.

A number of studies have illustrated the importance of magnesium for bone health, with one study showing that magnesium supplementation increased bone density within a year.4 In a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that women meeting the recommended magnesium intake (320 mg per day) were at a 27% decreased risk for future fractures.5

The Lesser-Known Mineral Manganese

Manganese, a naturally occurring mineral in our body, is an essential component of many enzymes. While abundant in the earth and within plants, only trace amounts are present in humans. The highest concentration of this Foundation Supplement is found inside bones. Manganese plays a vital role in a number of physiological processes and facilitates the activities of others.

For example, manganese is a component of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), the primary antioxidant enzyme in the mitochondria. Here, manganese superoxide dismutase neutralizes free radicals in the human cell, thereby minimizing the damage that may ensue throughout the body. These findings were confirmed by a University of Iowa study review that emphasized the role of manganese in protecting against this oxidative stress.

According to the study authors:

“The delivery of MnSOD to the mitochondrial matrix is essential for organelle function.”6

Manganese also activates several enzymes responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol.7 For example, it is required for the activation of prolidase, an enzyme that creates the amino acid, proline, for collagen formation in human skin cells. Without manganese, the chain reaction of collagen creation is severed.8

When it comes to bones, manganese is an important player. It is a cofactor for glycosyltransferases. These enzymes must be present for the synthesis of proteoglycans, which are a required protein for the formation of healthy bone and collagen.

While there has been a great deal of research on the role of manganese as it relates to bone health, one study on deer antlers suggests that osteoporosis may actually be caused by a manganese deficiency, preventing the efficient absorption of calcium.9

Which Foods Contain An Abundance Of These Bone Building Minerals?

Now that you understand the vital role that magnesium and manganese play in the health of your bones and body, let’s examine the best ways to incorporate these powerful minerals into your diet.

Each of the following foods is included in the delicious recipe below. Take a look!

Magnesium-Rich Foods:

Avocado*: One medium avocado contains 58 mg of magnesium. This creamy and delicious fruit is also packed with several other Foundation Supplements such as Vitamins K, D, and C, as well as boron, copper, and folate.

Black beans*: Black beans, while acidifying, are packed with magnesium. In fact, one cup of black beans contains an impressive 120 mg of magnesium. They are also rich in potassium, iron, and fiber. Additionally, they contain good amounts of bone-saving antioxidants.

Salmon*, Mackerel*, Halibut*, or Haddock: Fish, especially fatty fish, is packed with magnesium. One salmon filet, for example, contains 106 mg of magnesium. Vitamin D, potassium, and selenium are also abundant in fish. And, as Savers know, the fish listed here are anti-inflammatory in nature.

Yogurt*: One cup of whole-milk yogurt (preferably grass-fed and organic) contains nearly 30 mg of magnesium. It is also an excellent source of calcium and zinc, two Foundation Supplement powerhouses.

Corn: There are 33 mg of magnesium in one ear of corn. Make sure you get it organically grown. Otherwise, chances are the corn will be genetically modified (GMO). Rich in Vitamin C and loaded with the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, corn adds a sweetness to a meal that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

Manganese-Rich Foods:

Onion*: In addition to its high Vitamin C and fiber content, one cup of chopped onions contain 0.2 mg of manganese, which is equivalent to 10% of the recommended daily value. A good source of polyphenols and bone-saving antioxidants, they are a great addition to your diet.

Garlic: Just three cloves of garlic contain 0.2 mg of manganese. Garlic has numerous health benefits, and one study demonstrated the positive effect it has on bone density.10
Tomato*: One serving of tomatoes contains 0.1 mg of manganese. Packed with the powerful antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes have been scientifically shown to protect and stimulate the production of bone-building osteoblasts.11

Foods Packed With Both Magnesium and Manganese

Brown Rice*: Although brown rice is an acidifying food, because of its numerous health benefits, it's often regarded as a superfood. Just one cup of this grain provides you with 88% of the daily value for manganese and 20% of your daily needs for magnesium. As a bonus, it is also rich in fiber, thus reducing inflammation in the body. But make sure you consume it in moderation, since rice (and more so brown rice), has been found to contain arsenic.

Cabbage*: This alkalizing vegetable contains both magnesium and manganese. In fact, just one cup of shredded cabbage provides 19 mg of magnesium and 0.1 mg of manganese. As a member of the cruciferous family, cabbage is packed with several bone-building nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, and folate.

Lima Beans*: While most beans are acidifying, the lima bean is alkalizing and contains 12 Foundation Supplements. One cup of lima beans offers 81 mg of magnesium and 0.97 mg of manganese.

Spinach*: Popeye knew a thing or two about strength, and he loved spinach. One cup of cooked spinach contains 1.7 mg of manganese, or 84% of the daily recommended and 157 mg of magnesium.

Pine Nuts*: If you are looking to add a bit of buttery flavor to your recipes, look no further than the pine nut. These tasty seeds contain more manganese than any other ingredient in this recipe. Just a half-cup of pine nuts contains 6 mg of manganese, or nearly 300% of your daily recommended intake! Equally impressive, it contains approximately 170 mg of magnesium. It is also filled with several bone-building Foundation supplements such as Vitamins B1, B2, and B3, zinc, and Vitamin K.

Whole wheat tortilla*: Whole wheat flour is a source of several micronutrients, including manganese and magnesium.

Foundation Food

A Powerful Combination

While these foods can certainly be enjoyed separately, why not combine them for their amazing flavors and the synergistic effect?

At the Save Insitute we love to introduce creative bone-healthy dishes, but we also know that your time is precious and that eating a bone-healthy diet should not have to be time-consuming. With that in mind, the ingredients in our Bone-Building Burrito recipe can be prepared ahead of time with little fuss, so in less than 15 minutes, you’ll have this delicious recipe ready.

Bone-Building Burritos

Servings: 6 Burritos


  • 1/2 pound salmon, mackerel, halibut, or haddock, cooked
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3/4 cup black beans, cooked
  • 3/4 cup lima beans, cooked
  • 1 cup organic corn, cooked
  • 3/4 cup shredded cabbage or spinach
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • Plain, unsweetened yogurt (preferably organic) for topping
  • 6 corn or gluten-free tortillas


  1. In a bowl, mix the avocado, onion, garlic, tomato, lemon juice and sea salt.
  2. in a large pan, heat the oil to medium heat, then add the fish, rice, beans, corn, and pine nuts, and heat through.
  3. Place each tortilla (preheated in the oven, if desired) on a plate and spoon the avocado mixture, then the fish mixture, add the spinach or cabbage, and last, one or two tablespoons of yogurt.
  4. Roll the burrito, and serve.

Hungry for More?

Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, was created to help those who wish to reverse osteoporosis or osteopenia naturally, right from their own kitchen.

This easy-to-follow recipe book will help you to prepare meals that contain not only magnesium and manganese, but all of the Foundation Supplements listed in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. And with the 30 Day Meal Planner, one of the bonuses included with Bone Appétit, you’ll have an entire month of bone-smart meals (including snacks) guiding you on your natural bone health journey.

Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!

Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!

Learn More Now →

In Bone Appétit you will find more than 200 mouth-watering, bone-building recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare, so you can enjoy meals that strengthen and rejuvenate your bones.

Till next time,


1 Rude RK. Magnesium. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, Cragg GM, Levine M, Moss J, White JD, eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:527-37.
2 Rude RK. Magnesium. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Baltimore, Mass: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:159-75.
3 Volpe SL. Magnesium. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Ames, Iowa; John Wiley & Sons, 2012:459-74.
4 Abraham, GE and Grewal, H. A total dietary program emphasizing magnesium instead of calcium. Effect on the mineral density of calcaneous bone in postmenopausal women on hormonal therapy. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. May 1990. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2352244
5 Veronese N., et al. Dietary magnesium intake and fracture risk: data from a large prospective study. British Journal of Nutrition. June 2017. 117(11). 1570-1576. Web: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/dietary-magnesium-intake-and-fracture-risk-data-from-a-large-prospective-study/5EDA2D4C456E52906D658587703875B2
6 Luo, Jun. “Manganese Superoxide Dismutase (MdSOD).” B-180 Medical Laboratories. Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, University of Iowa. March 2001. Web: https://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/corefacilities/esr/education/2001/3/LuoJ-paper3.pdf
7 Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Manganese. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2001:394-419.
8 Muszynska A, Palka J, Gorodkiewicz E. The mechanism of daunorubicin-induced inhibition of prolidase activity in human skin fibroblasts and its implication to impaired collagen biosynthesis. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2000;52(2):149-155.
9 Tomas Landete-Castillejos. Alternative hypothesis for the origin of osteoporosis: The role of Mn. Frontiers in Bioscience, 2012; E4 (1): 1385.
10 Ahmadi, N., et al. Aged Garlic Extract with Supplement is Associated with Beneficial Effect on Bone Mineral Density and Predicts Lack of Progression of Atherosclerosis: A Prospective Double Blinded Randomized Trial. Int J Cardiovasc Res 4:3. Web: https://www.scitechnol.com/peer-review/aged-garlic-extract-with-supplement-is-associated-with-beneficial-effect-on-bone-mineral-density-and-predicts-lack-of-progression–3WeG.php?article_id=3246
11 Kim L., et al. Lycopene II–effect on osteoblasts: the carotenoid lycopene stimulates cell proliferation and alkaline phosphatase activity of SaOS-2 cells. Med Food. 2003 Summer;6(2):79-86. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12935317

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. CANDY

    What are your thoughts on oxylates? From what I can tell, spinach is very high in oxylates. Just wondering if it’s a concern or not except people suffering from kidney stones.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates can interfere with calcium absorption. However, the reduction is relatively small and should not prevent you from eating spinach, which contains many valuable nutrients.

      The vast majority of kidney stones are composed mostly of calcium oxalate, so while In small amounts, oxalates typically don’t pose a problem, those with kidney issues should avoid foods that contain them.

  2. Debbie

    Hi, I am allergic to fish, what ingredient would you suggest for substitution? Thanks

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Debbie, I suggest using sliced chicken or turkey breast.

  3. Rutty

    Very rich recipe but with these ingredients it has nothing to do with a “real burrito”.

  4. shula

    This fish-avocado-beans-yogurt combination sounds interesting.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I hope you’ll like it, Shula!

  5. Bertha

    Sounds Delicious. Are the lima beans referred to in the article and the recipe the frozen green lima beans?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Bertha,

      The lima beans I referred to are dried, soaked, and then cooked. But frozen lima beans that have been cooked are also fine. 🙂

  6. carol dejno

    How would black or wild rice be for a substitute for brown?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      It would probably taste delicious. 🙂 Of course, the nutritional profile will be different. If you do try one of those substitutions, let us know how it goes!

  7. carol dejno

    In my cutting out acidifying grains, I would make tortillas out of spelt, quinoa, or amaranth flour. Can’t wait to try this delicious looking meal!!

    • Elene Gusch, DOM

      Why would spelt be less acidifying than wheat?
      I would be fine with eating either one, myself– just asking because I don’t know of any difference in this regard.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Sounds good, Carol!

  8. Tom

    According to Consumers Report, brown rice, depending on where grown and how it is cooked, is very high in arsenic, far over limits set for water by EPA.

  9. Susan

    wow! I love mexican food and now I will eat these burritos knowing that it helps my bones. Thank you, Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Susan! I hope you enjoy the burritos. 🙂

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