Can Magnesium Help in Fighting Depression?
A crucial mineral that plays a key role in several bodily functions, including DNA formation, bone formation, regulation of nerve and muscle functions, etc., magnesium is also touted as a natural treatment for depression and anxiety. Though there is no concrete evidence for the same, several studies and research have supported its efficacy in alleviating depression and anxiety.
Effect of Magnesium on the Brain
Glutamate receptors in the brain have an instrumental role to play in how individuals form memories and learn. Magnesium helps in regulating these receptors in the brain. Glutamate is an abundant neurotransmitter crucial in ensuring normal brain functioning; however, an excess of glutamate can lead to the overstimulation of cells. This eventually paves the way for cells to die and might make one susceptible to seizures, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Additionally, excessive levels of glutamate are also closely associated with depression.
Since magnesium impedes the actions of glutamate, a magnesium-deficient individual can suffer from overexcitation and cell damage. This is the reason doctors and medical practitioners believe that taking magnesium can help fight depression.
How are Magnesium and Depression Linked?
One of the most widely prevalent mental health conditions, depression not only takes a massive toll on one’s quality of life but, in severe cases, might also turn fatal. Typically, depression is accompanied by other conditions, often related to neurology or chronic pain. Since these can be attributed to glutamate, it is quite likely that low levels of magnesium are a cause of both psychiatric as well as neurological symptoms. Though the treatment of depression primarily centers around psychotherapy and medications, in recent times, experts in the medical field have been exploring how dietary interventions can help fight depression.
The following researches point toward the potential of magnesium supplements such as magnesium bisglycinate in helping depression:
- According to a 2015 study, adults with low magnesium intake are more prone to depression.
- Unknown to many, magnesium chloride can be considerably effective in improving the symptoms of depression. This was brought to light in a randomized clinical trial. The study, published in the journal PLoS in 2017, also revealed that individuals under antidepressants experienced greater benefits when taking magnesium. This suggests that magnesium can boost the results shown by antidepressant medicines.
- The fact that low serum magnesium levels might lead to symptoms of depression was indicated by a study conducted in 2019. This is the reason why measuring magnesium levels is considered a helpful way of identifying people who will best respond to magnesium supplements.
How to Increase Magnesium Levels in Your Body
Several factors come into play when determining the daily recommended levels of magnesium. These include age, sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, amongst others. On average, an adult man should have 400-420 mg of magnesium daily, while for an adult woman, the recommended daily amount is 310-320 mg. While magnesium is a vital nutrient, many people have low magnesium consumption. In addition, certain medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, celiac disease, and long-term alcohol use disorders may also make you vulnerable to magnesium deficiency.
The most effective way to increase your daily intake of magnesium is to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. These include legumes, peanut butter, nuts, bananas, milk, potatoes, spinach, seeds, whole grains, and yogurt. Green leafy vegetables, in general, are also good sources of magnesium. Many people also opt for magnesium magnesium bisglycinate and other supplements, but it is advisable to consult your doctor first. If you were taking any medications or supplements prior to taking magnesium supplements, you must mention that to your doctor. Also, take care not to take excessive amounts of magnesium as it can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. In cases of extremely high doses, the individual may suffer from heart problems.
“There’s a circular relationship between stress and magnesium. Stress causes low magnesium levels, low magnesium levels cause stress, and the circle continues in a nasty downward spiral. About half of your body’s total magnesium is found in bones and the rest in your body’s tissues and organs; only 1 percent of it is in the blood, so a blood test for magnesium deficiency is pretty useless. Because we’re so deficient in magnesium and because it’s so important, I’m a big fan of supplementation,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS.
Wondering Why You Might be Magnesium Deficient
Though magnesium is vital for health, its deficiency is widely prevalent. Here are some reasons for the same:
- Magnesium absorption depends on extraneous dietary factors: if you use antacids or diuretics or indulge in alcohol or caffeine, these will impact how much magnesium your body can absorb from the food you consume.
- Derived from plant sources: the magnesium content of certain foods depends on the level of magnesium absorbed by plants from the environment. Since dietary magnesium is mainly derived from plant sources, environmental factors also come into play.
- Excessive stress depletes magnesium: one of the ways our body copes with stress is by releasing magnesium into blood cells which is eventually excreted by the kidneys. Though this plays a key role in minimizing some of the adverse effects of stress, chronic stress can lead to magnesium depletion/deficiency unless you compensate for this loss with dietary consumption.
- Effect of different forms of magnesium: the type of magnesium magnesium bisglycinate supplement you use determines how readily your body will absorb it. Some supplement options are bioavailable, while others may be more difficult to absorb.
Though some promising research strongly indicates the benefits of magnesium to prevent, lessen, or even cure depression, you should consult a mental health professional before taking magnesium bisglycinate or any other magnesium supplement for that matter. Generally speaking, it is advisable to include magnesium-rich foods in your daily diet. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or you might have a magnesium deficiency, reach out to a healthcare expert for deeper insights.