By Bob Condor

Browse the aisles of your local health supplements store and you will likely see calcium and magnesium side-by-side and frequently in the same capsule. But sort of like twins with one sister being a movie star and the other, say, a graduate student in biology, calcium gets all of the pub while magnesium just keeps earning the good grades.

Two 2008 studies suggests that a sufficient dose of magnesium can lower blood pressure (confirming earlier research) and help prevent or dissolve gallstones. The hypertension study showed that magnesium-challenged individuals tend to develop more arterial thickness as they age, which is one big reason why blood pressure zooms upward. Get enough magnesium and those artery walls stay open and supple.

The gallstones study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, followed more than 42,000 men over 16 years. Those guys with a daily magnesium intake of more than 409 milligrams were 28 percent less likely to develop gallstones than males with daily magnesium intakes of less than 288 milligrams.

Taking a calcium-magneisum supplment is a good strategy, especially because taking it before bed can encourage a deeper, more restful sleep. But it always makes sense to add magnesium-rich foods to your diet. Som

e of the best choices include halibut, artichokes, bananas, figs, barley, brown rice (takeout nutrition), whole wheat flour (buckwheat flour is even higher in magnesium, take note make-from-scratch pancake lovers), almonds, Brazil nuts (also a protector against prostate cancer), cashews, pine nuts, black beans, navy beans, white beans, soybeans, cornmeal, spinach, pumpkin seeds, okra and tomato paste.

There’s a lot of recipes in there. Maybe it’s time for magnesium to play a starring role.

“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing . He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer . He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors' Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.”