By Lina Stoyanova
‘Tis the season to be holly and jolly… or so you thought. It’s dark outside, it’s gloomy, it’s cold and there’s tons to do. Where’s the holiday spirit? Well, whether you’re in a funk, experiencing a potential magnesium deficiency, feeling depressed, or maybe even experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD: mood disorder that shows up at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter), wherever you fall on the spectrum, I’m here to tell you about how increasing your magnesium intake will change your life. For the sake of this article, a huge chunk will be focused towards how magnesium can be used to alleviate any anxiety and depression, but as you read, you’ll notice the immense benefits magnesium can provide should you wish to tailor it to your needs and lifestyle.
Maybe you don’t struggle with anxiety or depression, so why should you look into magnesium? Well, magnesium is one of seven essential microminerals (trace minerals) and is necessary in over 600 metabolic functions, yet many reports state that it’s the second most common nutritional deficiency in developed countries. Magnesium is an essential nutrient the body needs in order to maintain optimal health; it regulates muscle and nerve function, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and magnesium makes protein, bone, and DNA.
There are immense benefits to increasing magnesium. To name a few:
• Magnesium Increases Relaxing GABA
• Increases Serotonin
• Increases DHEA
• Reduces Stress Hormones
• Is Anti-Inflammatory
• Removes Heavy Metals
• Increases Brain Plasticity
• Keeps Blood Sugar Stable
• Helps Bone Health
• Helps Heart Health
• Improves Migraine Headaches
• Improves Premenstrual Syndrome
• Relieves Anxiety
• Improves Thyroid Function
• Supports Estrogen Detoxification
• Lowers Adrenaline and Cortisol
• Supports Testosterone Production
How Can Magnesium Help Boost My Mood?
Magnesium can help alleviate both anxiety and depression by raising levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. It also normalizes stress hormones which is why magnesium is ideal. In this article there are options for supplementation and increasing magnesium through food. This can be done by eating magnesium-rich foods like almonds, spinach, avocados and soy, to name a few.
How Does Magnesium Affect Depression?
Magnesium is widely recognized as a homeopathic medicine for the treatment of depression. There are many studies that find magnesium an effective way to treat mild to moderate depression in adults. Magnesium works quickly and is well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity.
Magnesium plays a role in many of the pathways, enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. There are numerous studies online, however, to list a few:
• According to George A. Eby and Karen L. Eby for Science Direct, they found that magnesium was effective for the treatment of depression as well as traumatic brain injuries, headaches, suicidal ideation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, postpartum depression and cocaine, alcohol and tobacco use. They also found that hypersensitivity to calcium, short-term memory loss and IQ loss also benefited.
• A clinical trial out of the University of Vermont found that participants which received 248 mg of over-the-counter elemental magnesium per day over six weeks, had results showing magnesium is comparable to prescription SSRI treatments in effectiveness.
• Numerous studies put magnesium chloride’s efficiency to the test and showed positive results. The studies focused on the effects in the treatment of depression and found that the daily supplementation of magnesium chloride led to an improvement of depression symptoms and promoted overall mental balance.
• Lastly, “Role of Magnesium Supplementation in the Treatment of Depression: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” tested to see if supplementation with over-the-counter magnesium chloride improves symptoms of depression. The trial was carried out on 126 adults diagnosed with (and currently experiencing) mild to moderate symptoms with Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) scores of 5-19. The intervention was six weeks of active treatment (248 mg of elemental magnesium per day) compared to six weeks of control (no treatment). The trial found that consumption of magnesium chloride for six weeks resulted in a clinically significant net improvement in PHQ-9 scores of -6.0 points and net improvement in Generalized Anxiety Disorders-7 scores of -4.5 points.
How To Use Magnesium: Supplementation
Depending on the amount of magnesium in the diet, a person’s diet as a whole, and the health of the gastrointestinal tract, all influence how well magnesium is absorbed. This is why it’s important to choose a magnesium supplement that works best for you and your needs. Like I mentioned earlier, if you aren’t concerned with depression, anxiety, or mood in general, there are different types of magnesium that can help boost your overall health. I strongly recommend doing your own research and consulting with your doctor before beginning any supplementation.
1. Magnesium Chloride- Helps with Depression, Anxiety, Detoxifies, Good for Kidneys
2. Magnesium Citrate- Relaxes, Reduces Muscle Pain, Good for Kidneys
3. Magnesium Glycinate- Ideal for Correcting Deficiencies, Calming Effect, Gut-Friendly, Good for Nerve Pain
4. Magnesium Malate- Energizes, Helps Metabolism, Reduces Muscle Pain, Helps with Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Insomnia
5. Magnesium Taurate & Orotate- Good for Cardiovascular Health, Helps with High Blood Pressure, Heart Arrhythmia and is Calming
6. Magnesium Oxide- Improves Indigestion, Heartburn and Upset Stomach
7. Magnesium L-Threonate- Best for Brain Injuries, Anxiety, Depression, Memory, Learning and Neurodegenerative Disorders
How To Use Magnesium: Food Sources
According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the top food sources of magnesium per average serving size are: Almonds, Spinach, Cashews, Shredded Wheat Cereal, Soy Milk, Black Beans, Edamame, Peanut Butter, Whole Grain Bread and Avocados. According to nutritionists here in Canada, the top sources are: Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Squash, Black-Eyed Peas, Tempeh and Brazil Nuts. To amp up magnesium in your diet, try to incorporate more of these foods.
In conclusion, there are many benefits to increasing your magnesium intake. If you wish to alleviate the blues, ensure you aren’t experiencing any deficiencies, or would just like to aid in your overall health, consider eating magnesium rich foods and/or supplementing.
*Disclaimer: Before beginning any sort of supplement, always speak to your health practitioner.