Magnesium intake was assessed using six 24-h dietary records during a 1-year period in 5,448 subjects (3,111 women 35-60 yrs old and 2,337 men 45-60 yrs old) in the SU.VI.MAX cohort, selected at a national level in France. The overall mean dietary intake was estimated at 369 +/- 106 mg/day in men and 280 +/- 84 mg/day in women. 77 per cent of women and 72 per cent of men had dietary magnesium intakes lower than recommended dietary allowances; 23 per cent of women and 18 per cent of men consumed less than 2/3 of these RDA. A strong positive correlation existed between energy and magnesium intake (r = 0.79; p < 10(-4)). Slight variations were observed according to socio-professional and educational levels and place of residence. Cereal products represented the main contribution in both men (21 per cent) and women (19.8 per cent). In men, the second source was represented by alcoholic beverages (11.7 per cent), which were a lower source of magnesium in women (5.5 per cent). Dairy products, vegetables, meat and poultry were the other main sources of dietary magnesium intake.