Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant intracellular divalent cation and has been recognized as a cofactor for >300 metabolic reactions in the body. Some of the processes in which magnesium is a cofactor include, but are not limited to, protein synthesis, cellular energy production and storage, reproduction, DNA and RNA synthesis, and stabilizing mitochondrial membranes. Magnesium also plays a critical role in nerve transmission, cardiac excitability, neuromuscular conduction, muscular contraction, vasomotor tone, blood pressure, and glucose and insulin metabolism. Because of magnesium's many functions within the body, it plays a major role in disease prevention and overall health. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with a number of chronic diseases including migraine headaches, Alzheimer's disease, cerebrovascular accident (stroke), hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Good food sources of magnesium include unrefined (whole) grains, spinach, nuts, legumes, and white potatoes (tubers). This review presents recent research in the areas of magnesium and chronic disease, with the goal of emphasizing magnesium's role in disease prevention and overall health.