Chlorophyll-bound magnesium in commonly and consumed vegetables and fruits: Relevance to magnesium nutrition

T. Bohn*, T. Walczyk, S. Leisibach, R. F. Hurrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Magnesium is bound as the central atom of the porphyrin ring of the green plant pigments chlorophyll a and b. It has been suggested that chlorophyll-bound magnesium may play an important role in magnesium nutrition because when iron is similarly bound in the porphyrin ring of heme, it is absorbed to a greater extent than non-heme iron. We have analyzed 22 frequently consumed fruits and vegetables for the chlorophyll content by high-pressure liquid chromatography and for magnesium with atomic absorption spectroscopy. Chlorophyll concentrations ranged from 6 μg/g (grape) to 790 μg/g (spinach) (median 63 pg/g). Magnesium concentrations ranged from 48 μg/g (grape) to 849 μg/g (spinach) (median 122 μg/g). In the green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and lettuce, chlorophyll-bound magnesium represented 2.5% to 10.5% of total magnesium whereas other common green vegetables, pulses and fruits contained <1% chlorophyll-bound magnesium. The chlorophyll content of spinach was further decreased by about 35% on thawing frozen spinach or on chopping fresh spinach, and this degradation increased to about 50% after boiling and steaming. Based on the present results and published food consumption data, we estimate that chlorophyll-bound magnesium represents a very low fraction of total magnesium intake in industrialized countries, less than 1% in the case for data obtained from Switzerland. Thus, chlorophyll-bound magnesium is of little relevance to magnesium nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S347-S350
JournalJournal of Food Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chlorophyll-bound magnesium
  • Chlorophylls
  • Magnesium
  • Pigment degradation
  • Vegetables and fruits


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