In the last few years, magnesium has taken center stage as a cure-all for everything from migraines, to diabetes, to osteoporosis. But what is the truth? Should you be taking a supplement every day or can you rely on your diet to provide all the magnesium you need?

Read on to find out.

Your body uses magnesium for more than 300 chemical processes to keep you healthy (and happy!). Because you are constantly using this vital mineral, your body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium steady and available for use.

When you use up the available magnesium in your blood, your body will try to get more of it from food or withdraw it from storage in your bones and soft tissues. If it cannot get enough from both sources, your blood magnesium will be low. That is when you’ll begin to see symptoms like the following:
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• High blood pressure
• Irregular heart beat
• Softening and weakness of bone
• Muscle spasms, cramps, or weakness

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately. You may have a life threatening magnesium deficiency or other serious medical condition.

While the blood test your doctor gives you to test magnesium levels is very helpful, remember that it does not tell you how much magnesium you are storing in your bones and soft tissues. Your may need more magnesium in your body’s storage "banks" to function most optimally.

It is important to understand the significance of adequate magnesium storage in the body. You need a lot of magnesium in a pinch for an acute illness or stressor. Your body will rely on its stored resources to get you through your health crisis.

So, the question remains. Should you supplement with magnesium or rely on food sources?

First, ask yourself if your daily food intake includes the following: green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and peas, whole grains, and seeds. These healthful, wholesome foods are high in magnesium and tend to have lots of fiber and tons of other nutritional goodies as well. Fish is another good source of dietary magnesium.

If you answered yes, you eat plenty of these healthful foods every day, the chances are that your diet provides all the magnesium you need for good health.

But here’s another question.

Do you have any of the following conditions that put you at risk for low magnesium storage?
• Drinking too much alcohol
• Diabetes
• Chronic diarrhea
• Congestive heart failure
• Low potassium levels
• Low calcium levels
• Taking water pills or an acid reducing drug (proton pump inhibitor)
• Excessive sweating
• Excessive urination

Unfortunately, low magnesium stores often have no clear signs or symptoms. As a rule of thumb, seniors are at a higher risk than middle-aged people. African Americans have the lowest magnesium intake compared to White and Mexican Americans. So if you are in a higher risk group or have one of the conditions mentioned above, there’s a good chance your magnesium stores are low.

In this case, supplementation is a great option ― as long as you consult with your and doctor and don’t overdo it. He or she can tell you what type of supplement is best for your particular health status and how much to take.

If you have any medical conditions or if you take any medication, it is also important to inform your doctor before you take a magnesium supplement. A magnesium supplement is actually a kind of medication and may interact with other medications. People with kidney problems need to be especially careful with ANY medications and supplements.
While you must be careful about not exceeding the recommended daily dose of magnesium supplements, remember there is no limit to how much magnesium you can get FROM FOOD.

That’s because your body is such a marvelous creation. Your gut is smart enough not to absorb an excess of NATURAL magnesium found in food. But a magnesium supplement is actually a highly processed, concentrated form of pill. It does not follow the absorption pattern of magnesium-rich food.

I compiled a list of magnesium-rich foods that you may like to mix and match. Aim for at least 400 magnesium a day from your food.

Magnesium Rich Foods:

Nuts and Seeds mg/serving
almonds, dry 1/4 cup 105
Brazil nuts, dry 1/4 cup 80
cashews, dry 1/4 cup 89
flax seeds, grounded 1 tablespoon 39
peanuts, roasted or dry 1/4 cup 67
peanut butter 2 tablespoon 50
pecans, dry 1/4 cup 38
pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup 185
sesame seeds, whole 1 tablespoon 32
sesame butter (tahini) 1 tablespoon 58
squash seeds 1/4 cup 185
sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 128
walnuts, chopped 1/4 cup 63
watermelon seeds 1/4 cup 140

Vegetables mg/serving
avocado, pureed 1/2 cup 35
asparagus 1/2 cup 18
beets 1/2 cup 32
broccoli, cooked 1/2 cup 51
collard greens, cooked 1/2 cup 20
corn 1/2 cup 27
potato with skin 1 medium 48
scotch kale 1/2 cup 30
seaweed 1 oz 58
spinach, cooked 1/2 cup 78
sweet peas 1/2 cup 32
tomatoes, raw 1 cup 20
tomato paste 6 oz 70
winter squash 1 cup 27

Fruits mg/serving
banana 1 medium 33
cherries 1/2 cup 16
pineapple 1/2 cup 18
raisins 1/2 cup 26
raspberries 1 cup 27

Beans mg/serving
blackeyed peas 1/2 cup 45
black beans, cooked 1/2 cup 60
kidney beans, cooked 1/2 cup 35
lentils, cooked 1/2 cup 36
pinto beans, cooked 1/2 cup 43
soybeans 1/4 cup 63

Meat and Fish mg/serving
beef 3 oz 21
chicken 3 oz 21
turkey 3 oz 21
blue fish 3 oz 21
flat fish 3 oz 26
cod 3 oz 30
halibut 3 oz 24
scallop 3 oz 46
shrimp 3 oz 36
tempeh, cooked 3 oz 66
tofu 3 oz 25
tuna 3 oz 30

Dairy Products mg/serving
milk (regular or skim) 1 cup 30
yogurt 8 oz 32

Grains and Cereals mg/serving
bran flakes 1/2 cup 42
brown rice, cooked 1/2 cup 42
bulgur 1/2 cup 29
buckwheat, dry roasted 1/2 cup 180
cream of wheat, quick cooking 1 cup 15
millet, cooked 1 cup 77
oat bran 1/4 cup 55
oatmeal, cooked 1 cup 60
quinoa 1/2 cup 60
puffed and shredded wheat 1/2 cup 19
raisin bran cereal 1 cup 77
rice bran 1/4 cup 230
rye 1/2 cup 90
spelt 4 oz 95
wheat bran, crude 1/4 cup 90
wheat germ, crude 1/4 cup 69
whole wheat bread 1 slice 23

Keep reading to discover the keys for defusing ticking health bombs that could be lurking in your body at Discover the medical secrets necessary to know so you can live a better, longer, healthier life.

Author's Bio: 

Zen-Jay Chuang, MD, is a primary care physician and Chairman of the Whole Health Alerts advisory board. Click here to find out how Dr. Zen-Jay’s biodynamic, cutting edge approach to ancient and modern medicine can help you achieve the best health of your life.