I’ve previously written about the importance of magnesium for athletic performance and your overall health and longevity. A new study highlights an additional benefit of magnesium; it’s also a cheap and effective way to quickly treat depression and anxiety.
Your body uses magnesium as a cofactor to activate over 300 different enzymes. Since most people are magnesium deficient, your body is forced to prioritize where this limited resource gets spent. While research is not entirely clear on the mechanisms involved, previous studies have shown that magnesium deficiency contributes to depression and that magnesium supplementation rapidly improves depressive symptoms. The new study out of the University of Vermont’s Clinical Research Center was one of the first randomized clinical trials to study the effects of supplementing with magnesium to treat depression.
The trial followed 126 adult patients with mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Half received 500 mg of magnesium chloride 4 times per day over six weeks while the control group did not receive anything. Their depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and them again every two weeks during the trial. The researchers found that the group supplementing with magnesium experienced significantly reduced symptoms of depression within 2 weeks and throughout the rest of the trial regardless of age, sex, co-treatments, or severity of depressive symptoms. As a bit of a side note, they did find that the benefits diminished somewhat after two weeks of stopping magnesium, showing that this important mineral also clears out of the system just as rapidly.
In addition to reduced depressive symptoms, the test group also stated additional side benefits (magnesium is involved in a lot of biological processes after all) such as:
- Decreased symptoms of anxiety
- Decreased number of headaches and muscle cramps
- Increased energy levels (it is a performance booster)
- Improved mood
- Reduced constipation
The study’s authors said there is still a stigma and cost associated with seeking treatment for depression or taking antidepressant medications, and they believe magnesium is a cheap, safe, and fast option to help control depressive symptoms for those not willing or able to seek treatment. They also recommended it as a supplement to accompany standard treatment since other studies have shown that people with normal magnesium levels tend to even greater positive benefits when taking antidepressants.
As I’ve mentioned before, magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule so the easiest way to get an adequate amount is to eat lots of dark leafy greens like spinach, plus nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains also contain magnesium. While the study supplemented with larger doses, the typical daily recommended amount of magnesium is about 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women. For those looking for supplements, you could take magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride. Both are easily absorbed and have minimal side effects.