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The Benefits of Magnesium for Mood + Mental Health

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The Benefits of Magnesium for Mood + Mental Health
Jan 12, 2024   314     0.0

The Benefits of Magnesium for Mood + Mental Health

Magnesium is a crucial micronutrient that influences mood and mental well-being. It contributes to managing conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Insufficient magnesium levels can impact your mood negatively. Experiencing tension, tightness, anxiety, or an overall feeling of being wound too tight? The culprit might be magnesium, a mineral that your mind may be lacking. This is because magnesium plays a pivotal role in regulating muscle and nerve function.


Increasing our intake of this remarkable mineral has various benefits, including improved sleep, increased energy levels, and facilitating the activation of vitamin D. Obtaining sufficient magnesium can be challenging since it is not abundant in most foods, particularly processed ones. However, you can boost your magnesium intake through both dietary choices and the appropriate form of magnesium supplementation. Let's explore how it can enhance your well-being.

Why do you need magnesium for mental health?

Magnesium is a really important mineral in your body, not as much as calcium, but still a lot. It teams up with other minerals like potassium, vitamin D, and B12 to keep you healthy both inside and out.


It does more than 300 things in your cells, helping you sleep well, have energy, and keep a strong immune system. Magnesium can also make things better if you're dealing with depression, anxiety, ADHD, or other mental health problems.


If you don't have enough magnesium, it can cause issues like trouble sleeping and headaches. It's also linked to health problems like diabetes and heart disease. There's proof that not having enough magnesium can make you feel more anxious and depressed.


We’re not getting enough dietary magnesium

Around half of Indian are not getting enough magnesium, according to a study that looked at magnesium intake in different groups of people (1).


This means that almost half of the population might not have enough magnesium in their bodies.


The same study says that the amount of magnesium we need for good health is actually higher than what is currently recommended (somewhere between 300-420 mg/day). Our bodies are used to having even more – up to 600 mg per day.


It's not easy to get enough magnesium from food for both adults and kids. Even though we eat a lot of calories, the food we consume may not have all the nutrients we need because of the way it's processed. Important minerals like magnesium and potassium are often taken out during food processing.


What are the signs of low magnesium?

In medical situations, low magnesium is quite common, but it often goes unnoticed because many people are not familiar with the signs or situations where magnesium deficiency is a problem.


Feeling tired is usually the initial and most noticeable indication of a lack of magnesium. Since fatigue is a general symptom, many people overlook the possibility that it could be linked to low magnesium.


Low magnesium levels may also cause:

  • Muscle pain, spasms, weakness, or stiffness

  • Eye twitches

  • Restless leg syndrome or leg cramps

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia

  • Panic attacks or anxiety attacks

  • Migraine headaches

  • Worsening premenstrual cramps

  • Irregular heartbeat

A lack of magnesium has been discovered in 84% of postmenopausal women dealing with osteoporosis and in a majority of individuals with poorly managed type 2 diabetes. After reviewing 37 articles, it was concluded that insufficient magnesium could be a potential public health issue for older adults (1).


Is Magnesium effective for anxiety?

Magnesium, a highly abundant mineral in the body, participates in around 300 different bodily reactions, many of which play a role in regulating mood and the nervous system.


When it comes to addressing anxiety, taking a holistic approach is beneficial. Various studies have indicated that lower levels of magnesium are linked to neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

A comprehensive review in 2017 examined 18 different studies, revealing that magnesium had a positive impact in reducing anxiety for the majority of participants.

Magnesium operates in the hypothalamus and pituitary parts of the brain, influencing the release of stress chemicals that can contribute to anxiety or panic attacks.

For individuals dealing with anxiety, considering the inclusion of magnesium in a treatment plan may be helpful.


Does magnesium help with depression?

In a randomized clinical trial reported in the 2017 Journal PLOS ONE, it was found that magnesium is beneficial for treating mild-to-moderate depression in adults (4). Additionally, various other studies have consistently demonstrated a connection between low magnesium levels and depression.

Building on this evidence, a systematic review conducted in 2020 further affirmed that magnesium appeared to have synergistic effects when used alongside antidepressants, contributing to an improvement in depressive symptoms (5).


Magnesium and the brain

Magnesium exerts its influence on a crucial pathway, particularly the glutamate receptor site. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that promotes excitatory signals, playing a vital role in normal brain functions. When present in excess, it can cause cells to become overstimulated, potentially resulting in damage and alterations in mood such as anxiety or depression.

The way magnesium works is by attaching to the receptor protein on cell membranes and preventing glutamate from binding to it (3). This is the mechanism behind magnesium's antidepressant-like effects.

Magnesium and sleep

Magnesium also plays a role in regulating the sleep hormone, melatonin, which is the primary controller of the circadian rhythm—your natural sleep cycle. Your circadian rhythm manages various aspects, including feeling alert and then feeling tired.

In a particular study, adding magnesium supplements led to a quicker time to fall asleep, extended overall sleep duration, and reduced early-morning waking in older adults (6).

Several activities and habits, such as exposing your eyes to blue light at night and experiencing stress, can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. If you aim to enhance your circadian rhythm, it's essential to ensure your magnesium levels are optimal because they collaborate to improve your quality of rest.


Effects of magnesium on stress

Magnesium enhances the body's capacity to deal with stress. Its positive effects include better regulation of the HPA axis, a network of tissues that transmit the stress response between the brain and the body. Magnesium aids in muscle relaxation and digestion, contributing to a more effective stress response.

Studies have indicated that magnesium supplements can enhance glucose metabolism and reduce blood pressure. These mechanisms play a role in determining how effectively our bodies manage stress (7).


Magnesium and vitamin D

If you're using a vitamin D supplement, it might not be getting absorbed properly unless you also have enough magnesium.

Recent findings indicate that all the enzymes engaged in processing vitamin D appear to depend on magnesium. A deficiency in either of these crucial nutrients is linked to a higher risk of diseases, including depression and various metabolic disorders (8).

Which foods have the most magnesium?

A diverse and nutrient-packed diet supplies a significant amount of magnesium for optimal brain function. You can enhance magnesium levels in your bloodstream by including foods such as leafy greens, nuts, and other items like:

- Edamame
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
- Spinach
- Almonds
- Cashews
- Avocados
- Black beans

What magnesium supplements are best?

There are various forms of magnesium, and the most suitable one for your needs depends on the kind of support you require.

1. Magnesium Glycinate:

   - Benefits: Sleep and stress support.

   - Additional Info: Contains glycine, an important amino acid supporting neurotransmitter function. Generally gentler on the digestive tract.


2. Magnesium Malate:

   - Benefits: Excellent absorption; helpful for symptoms related to nervous system function like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

   - Additional Info: Considered effective in micronutrient magnesium.


3. Magnesium L-threonate:

   - Benefits: Potential for improving memory.

   - Additional Info: Early research suggests an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein supporting neuron growth and connectivity.


4. Magnesium Sulfate:

   - Benefits: Epsom salt baths provide a topical way to increase magnesium.

   - Additional Info: Useful for topical applications.


5. Magnesium Oxide:

   - Benefits: Useful for sleep, mood support, and stress relief.

   - Additional Info: Can be effective for some people, but has lower bioavailability and may cause digestive upset.


6. Magnesium Citrate:

   - Benefits: Beneficial for mood and overall relaxation.

   - Additional Info: Higher doses may have a stool-softening effect.


Resources

  1. https://openheart.bmj.com/content/5/1/e000668

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7761127/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487054

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352515

  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23853635/

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852744/

  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29480918/


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