Of all the nutrients we need to stay healthy, magnesium is the “forgotten mineral.”

That’s the gist of several new studies showing that up to 80-percent of us aren’t getting enough magnesium in our diet. And experts say that’s bad news, because this one nutrient is used by every cell in our body. For example, it plays a key role in boosting our immune system, maintaining healthy muscle and nerve function, regulating our blood pressure, and keeping our bones strong. Plus, magnesium is proven to protect us against diabetes, stroke, and other dangerous health conditions. 

In fact, new research shows that low levels of magnesium may be a more accurate predictor of heart disease than measuring our cholesterol level. Because in a recent study of more than 130,000 heart-attack patients, more than half of them had cholesterol levels that were considered “optimal” or “normal,” but patients with the lowest magnesium levels were 70-percent more likely to die from heart disease within 10 years. That’s why a growing number of experts say doctors have been chasing the wrong enemy all these years. It’s not cholesterol, the true culprit is low magnesium.

So, exactly how much magnesium do we need? According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 400 milligrams a day for men, and 300 milligrams a day for women.

The top source is bran: rice, wheat or oat bran. And if you eat about a cup of any of those, you’ll get your daily fix. Other top sources are seeds and nuts, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and cashews. To get your daily-recommended amount, you only need one serving of the seeds, or a cup of the nuts. You can also get magnesium from chocolate, but you’d need to eat about 10 Hershey bars to get enough.