Magnesium helps maintain muscles and nerves, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and prevent heart attacks, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies. Magnesium found in seaweed, wheat bran, avocados, spinach, beans, peas, almonds, cashews, and in supplements, also can help calm muscle spasms. Yet, nearly 80 percent of people in the United States suffer from magnesium deficiency. "Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body ... [it] is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis,” NIH says. Three large studies indicate that a diet rich in magnesium lowers the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar causes magnesium to be excreted in the urine, so high blood sugar is often associated with low blood levels of magnesium. People using diuretics also are losing magnesium through their urine, indicating that people with type 2 diabetes and people taking diuretics should consider magnesium supplementation. Although the recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 350 to 400 milligrams per day, some doctors believe this amount should be doubled since factory farming has depleted the soil of this nutrient resulting in diets that do not provide sufficient magnesium. Normal blood levels of magnesium have been shown to prevent clotting, reduce inflammation, and prevent arterial plaques. Studies in countries such as Japan, where people have high-magnesium and low-calcium diets, have much lower rates of lethal heart disease than countries such as the United States, which have low-magnesium, high-calcium diets. Supplements are inexpensive and readily available, but because magnesium oxide is not well absorbed, magnesium citrate and magnesium taurate are recommended. Too much magnesium may cause loose stools or diarrhea, while constipation may signal low magnesium levels.