Is magnesium a cure for depression?

Spinach is a good source of magnesium Are you suffering from a lack of magnesium? Chances are you could be, as many of us aren’t receiving enough from our diet. In fact magnesium deficiency is an epidemic throughout the western world. About 80% of Americans are low in it. Depression, anxiety, irritability, ADHD and nervousness are just a few of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, and it’s vital for good health. It’s needed for over 300 biochemical reactions. Ensure you receive enough magnesium for optimal mental and physical health.

What is magnesium used for in the body?
What foods are high in magnesium?
How much magnesium do we need?
What are the signs of magnesium deficiency?
Who is at risk of magnesium deficiency?

What is magnesium used for in the body?

The functions of magnesium include:

  • helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function
  • helping the body absorb calcium
  • keeping bones and teeth strong
  • relaxing muscles
  • supporting a healthy immune system
  • keeping a steady heart rhythm
  • helping regulate blood sugar levels
  • maintaining healthy blood pressure

Nutritionist Patrick Holford, Director of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London, says magnesium has an excellent reputation as a mild tranquilizer. Before the Second World War it was often used to stabilize mood. Since the introduction of lithium, magnesium has been used less for mood stabilization. Recently, however, interest in magnesium’s affects on health, including mental health, has increased. One study found magnesium stabilized mood in people with bipolar disorder (manic depression) at least as well as lithium.

What foods are high in magnesium?

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Wholegrains

It’s important to note that once wholegrains have been processed into white flour or white rice, a lot of the magnesium is lost, along with many other nutrients.

How much magnesium do we need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is about 400mg a day for an adult male, and 300mg a day for a non-pregnant adult female. The RDA for pregnant women is about 350mg. These figures are based on information from the National Institutes of Health, USA.

Patrick Holford believes adults ideally need about 500mg magnesium a day. This is about double the amount most of us receive.

To ensure you’re getting enough, he recommends having a tablespoon of seeds and a 200mg magnesium supplement a day. Of course eating a lot of various foods high in magnesium can also work.

What are the signs of magnesium deficiency?

A lack of magnesium can affect every organ system in the body. The list below is just some of the symptoms that can indicate a magnesium deficiency.

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Confusion
  • ADHD
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tremors, cramps, spasms or weakness
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Irregular and/or rapid heartbeat

Who is at risk of magnesium deficiency?

Plenty of us are at risk of suffering from a lack of magnesium. You are especially at risk if you:

  • drink lots of coffee
  • drink a lot of alcohol
  • are not eating enough foods high in magnesium
  • have chronic diarrhea
  • are on a crash diet
  • have high blood pressure or heart disease
  • have high stress
  • are pregnant
  • take oral contraceptives
  • have a malabsorption syndrome or malnutrition
  • have poorly controlled diabetes
  • have renal (kidney) disease
  • are a senior citizen
  • take certain medications including laxatives, diuretics, some antibiotics and/or medications used to treat cancer (anti-neoplastic medication)

So to stay happy and healthy, make sure that you are getting enough magnesium in your diet.

written by Nyomi Graef

Dean, C, 2006, The Magnesium Miracle, New York, USA: Ballantine Books

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium, 2009, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health,

Holford, P, 1992, Optimum Nutrition, London, UK: ION Press

Holford, P, 2003, Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, London, UK: Piatkus

Seelig, MS et al., 2003, The Magnesium Factor, New York, USA: Avery Trade

Wahlqvist, ML, (Ed.), 1988, Food and Nutrition in Australia (3rd ed.), Melbourne, Australia: Thomas Nelson

Winter Griffith, H, 1995, The Vitamin Fact File, London, UK: Diamond Books

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6 Responses to “Is magnesium a cure for depression?”

  1. David says:

    This information should be taught to children of primary school age onwards. It can save millions from illnesses presently exacerbated and exploited by pharmaceutical fraud.

  2. Nyomi says:

    Thanks for your comment, David.

    Kind regards,

  3. Mia Navarro says:

    Thank you, Please continue your research on magnesium and what appears to be a global problem… What else might be depleting people of their magnesium…? How do electromagnetic waves impact magnesium absorption and utilization by cells? In Germany, Mia

  4. good article on your blog. Was really good quality in general and some new info for even me which i didin’t know before reading your blog post.

  5. Jack says:

    It is vitally important that politicians and policy makers learn this information. The benefits to society could be huge if we were to treat magnesium deficiency seriously, and at relatively low cost.

    Which studies confirm the links between magnesium and mental health? Magnesium therapy needs scietific backing before it will be endorsed by the mainstream.

  6. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also¡­

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