Magnesium Guards Your Brain Against Depression
Nothing can strip the joy and excitement out of your life more quickly than a bout of depression. Once it strikes, even every day activities can become a chore. You don’t want to get out of bed, get dressed or go to work – let alone anything more strenuous. This makes it very easy to turn to antidepressant drugs as a way to battle your woes. However, they don’t work for everyone.
In fact, a recent review in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that “the benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo may be minimal or nonexistent in patients with mild or moderate symptoms”. Plus, they come with some serious side effects. These can include an increase in depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and sleep disturbances.
This makes the results of a new study published in the journal Nutrition especially exciting. According to this new bit of research, taking just 250 mg. of magnesium twice daily can curb symptoms of depression.
Here’s the thing: Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. And a lot of people with depression have chronically low levels of it. This deficiency can set of a cascade of events that alter all sorts of body processes linked to depression.
How Magnesium Deficiency Messes with Your Brain Chemicals
For example, there’s something in your brain called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. This isn’t something you hear a whole lot about. But it’s very important when it comes to your mental health.
One of the things magnesium does is guard the gates of the NMDA channels. It basically locks out other chemicals that can over-activate your brain cells.
Well, when magnesium is scarce, that guard is no longer in place. There is no lock keeping the NMDA channels closed. This means minerals like calcium and sodium can sneak in and wreak havoc.
These compounds damage your neurons and cause brain cells to dysfunction. When this happens, it contributes to mood and behavioral issues, including depression.
More Magnesium Means More “Feel-Good” Chemicals in Your Brain
Magnesium also has a role in other brain receptors related to your mood and emotional state. Research finds that magnesium activates both GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) and serotonin receptors. Each of these neurotransmitters is associated with a brighter outlook and a better sense of well-being.
People who have major depressive order tend to have altered GABA function. And according to one study, people who are most resistant to treatment for depression are the ones who have the lowest levels of GABA in their brains.
Similar observations have been made when it comes to serotonin levels. Both serotonin and magnesium levels are lower among depressed and suicidal patients when compared to people without depression.
This makes getting adequate levels of magnesium in your diet extremely important if you want to maintain mood-boosting, depression-fighting levels of these important brain chemicals.
Stop Depression in as Little as 7 Days?
Most Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. In fact, nearly half of us have inadequate magnesium intakes. You can get more magnesium by adding plenty of nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and green leafy vegetables to your diet. However, if you want to kick your depressive symptoms to the side, you may also want to invest in a supplement. (At the very least, make sure your multi-vitamin contains magnesium!)
While it may take several weeks to see results, there are documented cases where 125 to 300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime has been able to produce a rapid recovery of less than seven days.
Rajizadeh, Afsaneh et al. The Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Depression Status in Depressed Patients with Magnesium Deficiency: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Nutrition. Article in Press.
Fournier JC, et al. Antidepressant drug effects and depression severity: a patient-level meta-analysis. JAMA. 2010 Jan 6;303(1):47-53.
Serefko A, et al. Magnesium in depression. Pharmacol Rep. 2013;65(3):547-54.
Newcomer JW, et al. NMDA receptor function, memory and brain aging. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2000 Sep; 2(3): 219–232.NMDA receptor function, memory, and brain aging
Ruljancic N, et al. Platelet serotonin and magnesium concentrations in suicidal and non-suicidal depressed patients. Magnes Res. 2013 Jan-Feb;26(1):9-17.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “Critical brain chemical shown to play role in severe depression.” ScienceDaily. March 2010.
Eby GA, et al. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):362-70.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”