Magnesium is a type of mineral that our body depends on to fulfill numerous functions. This mineral is essential in more than 300 enzyme systems, which is why it helps multiple biochemical reactions, such as muscle and nerve function, regulation of blood pressure, protein synthesis and blood glucose control. The magnesium helps with depression and other illnesses associated with depression, and that is one of its important roles to be taken into account.
Magnesium is classified as a micromineral. In the body, it is the second most common electrolyte. Deficiencies related to this mineral are not uncommon in the modern world. Researchers have linked magnesium deficiency and depression in multiple studies.
People suffering from depression may consider increasing their intake of magnesium to determine if a deficiency of this essential mineral is what is affecting them in the first place.
How does magnesium affect depression?
In 2016, the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States concluded that approximately 16.2 million American adults have experienced at least one episode of major depression.
An episode of major depression occurs when, for at least two weeks, the individual has had a loss of interest or a depressed mood along with at least four other symptoms that impair their ability to function normally.
Other symptoms can include problems with sleep, energy, self-image, eating, concentrating, or thoughts of suicide or death.
People with depression can also experience a multitude of physical symptoms that can further complicate this condition. These may include:
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Back pain
- Migraines and general headaches
- Chest pain (particularly during an anxiety attack)
- Muscle pains
- Digestive problems
- Joint pain
- Fatigue and exhaustion
Magnesium Helps with Depression in These 5 Ways
Depression is complex. Experts believe that the important factors that cause it are a combination of brain chemistry, inherited traits, biological differences, and hormones. Magnesium has an impact on brain chemistry and hormones.
Magnesium is good for hormones
Hormonal balance is essential for your mood and general well-being. The following is a description of how magnesium can benefit your hormones:
This mineral plays an important role in regulating cortisol levels, as it prevents excessive cortisol production due to its ability to calm the nervous system.
When you’re in a state of stress, this can cause your body to release more cortisol. Keeping the nervous system calm can reduce the impact of stress.
The balance of this hormone is also very important to maintain the balance of progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, estrogen, and follicle stimulating hormone.
When the thyroid is not active, symptoms of depression can occur, so keeping it healthy is a priority. Magnesium helps the production of thyroid hormone. And it can also provide thyroid protective benefits with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Magnesium is essential in the creation of certain hormones in the body, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This is important for when patients begin to age and their reproductive hormones begin to decline naturally.
This mineral is of great importance in reducing sugar cravings and balancing blood sugar, as it helps control insulin production. While this is important for everyone in general, it is even more so for those with conditions that can negatively affect insulin, such as diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome.
Magnesium for good sleep and energy recovery
Depression often contributes to difficulty sleeping and low energy levels. Magnesium is often recommended for those who have a hard time falling asleep and resting at night.
Another way its benefits sleep health is that it can reduce the occurrence of chronic nocturnal urination, which helps prevent a person from getting up very often to go to the bathroom.
Magnesium helps with depression because it helps maintain healthy levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which helps to have a deeper and more restful sleep easier.
GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS). Activation of GABA receptors is important to promote sleep. In order for the body to have sufficient levels of GABA, it also needs adequate amounts of magnesium.
Several prescription sleep medications work on GABA to promote sleep. These help GABA bind to proper brain receptors. Magnesium has the same effect but without the risk of significant side effects.
Restless leg syndrome is a condition that can significantly disrupt sleep because it is characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs. Those affected feel that they have to keep moving their legs to relieve the sensations. In some cases, the arms can also be affected. Restless leg syndrome is estimated to affect up to 15 percent of the adult population. It is often associated with anxiety and depression.
One study showed that magnesium can help reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Patients who participated in the study said that their restless leg syndrome and insomnia were alleviated by magnesium supplements.
One of the most important ways that magnesium promotes optimal energy levels is by helping people get restful sleep. It also calms the nervous system and helps relieve anxiety. However, it also directly affects energy at the cellular level.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) depends on magnesium for its production. Furthermore, for ATP to be biologically active, it has to essentially bind with magnesium. Once this union takes place, numerous bodily processes are enhanced. This includes almost all metabolic processes, some of which are necessary for the body to digest food and convert it into energy.
Magnesium helps with depression by stabilizing mood and reducing stress
The positive effects of magnesium on the neurotransmitter GABA produce a stabilization of the mood and reduction of stress. Sufficient amounts of GABA will make a person feel more relaxed and less likely to have periods of anxiety.
This mineral is critical for regulating the body’s stress response system. This system is part of the autonomic nervous system that is divided into the parasympathetic nervous system (SNP) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
The direct response in times of stress is generated by the SNS. At this time, the SNS tells the adrenal glands to lower cortisol and adrenaline levels.
This is what causes the symptoms, such as increased heart rate and breathing rate. Once the perceived threat wears off, the body returns to normal. However, when someone experiences chronic stress, the effects of the SNS response can essentially wear out the body.
When magnesium works to regulate this response, it makes everything easier to handle. It can also help reduce the risk of people experiencing chronic stress.
Research has shown that magnesium supplementation can be helpful in stabilizing mood. Since it can help reduce the symptoms that people experience when they have mild to moderate depression or when they have mild or moderate anxiety.
Serotonin needs magnesium. Serotonin is a type of brain chemical that works to transmit messages between nerve cells. It is commonly associated with mood, emotions, cognitive function, appetite, motor functions, and autonomic functions.
Research showed that reduced levels of serotonin transmission can contribute to depression.
This research suggests that magnesium supplementation can help increase serotonin levels. In fact, low serotonin levels have been found several times in magnesium deficient patients.
Magnesium helps with depression by relieving pain
One of the physical manifestations of depression is in the form of various types of pain throughout the body. In fact, magnesium is recommended as part of treatment for a number of painful complaints.
One reason someone might take magnesium for depression is to ease a headache. Research has shown that those with a magnesium deficiency are more likely to experience headaches, including migraine headaches.
Therefore, if a deficiency of this mineral is contributing to a person’s depression, correcting the deficiency can benefit both the relief of headaches and the depressive symptoms that a person experience.
Back, joint and muscle pain can also be relieved with magnesium. In fact, research showed that among fibromyalgia patients, magnesium supplementation can reduce pain in tender points and symptoms of depression.
Reduces symptoms of PMS
Just before a woman’s menstrual period, changes that occur in her body can cause her to experience PMS. It is estimated that approximately 90 percent of women experience at least some PMS symptoms at the beginning of their menstrual period.
Magnesium has been shown to reduce certain PMS symptoms and make them more tolerable, including mood swings, anxiety, bloating, irritability, and tension.
Improves cognitive functions
When a person suffers from depression, cognitive problems, such as forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating, are symptoms that can appear.
A team conducted several investigations with the aim of determining how magnesium can benefit cognitive function. The results indicate that increasing the magnesium content can have a positive effect on the brain by improving a person’s cognitive abilities.
A study by the same research team determined that magnesium promoted synaptic plasticity. Brain plasticity is best defined as the brain’s ability to reconnect, which is essentially modifying its connections.
This enables the brain to develop throughout life or recover if brain injury occurs.
What are the signs of low magnesium levels?
Not long ago, magnesium deficiency was thought to be relatively rare in the Western world. However, research on the prevalence of this deficiency has shown that it is actually very common.
In the United States, it is estimated that about half of the population does not receive sufficient amounts of magnesium each day. However, many experts believe that the percentage is higher. The following is the recommended daily magnesium intake for adults:
- Men 19-30: 400 milligrams
- Women 19-30: 310 milligrams
- Men 31-50: 420 milligrams
- Women 31-50: 320 milligrams
- Men 51+: 420 milligrams
- Women older than 51 years: 320 milligrams
- Magnesium deficiency symptoms
The symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are generally divided into early symptoms and later symptoms. The first symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Bad memory
- Difficulty learning new things
- Depressed mood
As soon as the above symptoms manifest, it is important to visit a doctor to assess magnesium levels. However, if the deficiency is not treated, it can progress and cause symptoms that are more serious:
- Low levels of calcium in the blood
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Low potassium levels in the blood
- Muscle contractions and cramps
- Personality changes
- Coronary spasms
When magnesium levels are low in the long term, the biochemical pathways undergo changes and these changes can increase a person’s risk of disease. There are certain conditions that a person is at higher risk for if they have a long-term magnesium deficiency:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Causes of magnesium deficiency
There are several factors that can increase the risk of a magnesium deficiency. These may include:
- Insufficient magnesium intake
- Kidney disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Old age
- Chronic alcoholism
- Chronic stress
- High sodium diets
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Excessive caffeine consumption
- Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance
- Certain medications, such as thiazide diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, or antibiotics (when long-term antibiotics are used)
Magnesium in the diet and magnesium supplements
There are a wide variety of foods that contain magnesium, but even eating sufficient amounts does not fully protect someone against a magnesium deficiency and there are several dietary reasons for this:
- Taking zinc supplements can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium
- Too much protein can make the body absorb less magnesium
- Significant fiber intake can reduce magnesium utilization in the body
The use of magnesium supplements is becoming widely recommended for those who are deficient. Using supplements to increase the levels of this mineral in the body allows for quick results and very few side effects.
With regards to anxiety, sleep problems, and depression, some studies looking at magnesium supplementation for these problems found that there was relief from all three within a week of starting supplementation.
Because of these results, it is generally recommended that when using magnesium for depression, patients use the supplemental form of the mineral.