By Ryan Charem
1 Mineral, 800 Processes.
By now, everybody has heard of magnesium, but hardly anyone I meet knows how essential this mineral is.
If I told you it’s responsible for over 700-800 processes that run vital metabolic processes in the body, it probably wouldn’t mean anything.
Famous Astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said, “The cosmos is within us, we are made of star-stuff.”
He was right. Magnesium is the fourth common element on earth, but it’s also the fourth most common mineral in our body. How cool is that?
Sadly, what is so common is not as common anymore as magnesium deficiency is to be present in 70-80 percent of the population. The worst part: Our food has become one of the least effective ways to obtain minerals, due to depletion in the soil where our food is grown.
So, as people who are feeling down or depressed, why do you need to consider supplementing it?
Stress, anxiety, poor diet, lack of sleep, and medications all deplete magnesium.
The good news is the happy chemicals your body naturally makes rely on magnesium to function and produce—particularly serotonin. If you have enough magnesium, chances are very high that you will have enough serotonin.
In fact, a study in 2017 (full paper here) linked low magnesium to signs of depression. This study was the first randomized clinical trial to put magnesium to the test to see if it reduced depression symptoms.
Here’s what researchers did:
- They told 126 people diagnosed with depression to take one tablet per day for six weeks.
- Half of the participants had sugar pills (placebo), the other, regular over-the-counter magnesium chloride.
- Asked participants to report back on how they were feeling.
Here’s what they found:
- After two weeks, half of the participants felt a little better.
- After four weeks, those same participants felt significantly better.
- Anxiety and symptoms of depression decreased.
- For the placebo, sugar pill, group: nothing improved. Nada. Niente.
The study also mentioned: “Similar effects were observed regardless of age, gender, baseline severity of depression, baseline magnesium level, or use of antidepressant treatments.”
Another very recent review looked at the role and effect of magnesium in mental disorders. This study was a review of the scientific records concerning magnesium in psychiatric disorders from 2010 to 2020.
It showed magnesium levels are lower in several mental disorders, especially depression. It also showed twelve of eighteen studies highlighting mainly positive results in depressive symptoms when supplementing magnesium.
The question becomes: Does a deficiency of magnesium cause depression?
For now, we can at least say the two are closely related.
How can you find out if you’re deficient?
Magnesium is very easy to test at any local lab or with your doctor. Here are a few ways to start:
- Ask your doc for a Magnesium RBC blood test (more accurate than a serum test) to see if you’re holding onto magnesium, especially if you’re on any medications.
- Head over to a local lab and order it up yourself.
- Aim for an optimal range of 2.47-2.67 mmol/L or 6.0-6.5 mg/dL
- Important: Avoid any magnesium for at least 24 hours before taking the test, or it may show temporary elevation.
What magnesium to take and when?
Magnesium Chloride is fantastic and well absorbed into the skin. This form is usually recommended for people with severe deficiencies as well. Best time to use: post-workout and before bed.
Magnesium Glycinate is another option that’s well absorbed with less stomach discomfort. This form is useful for people with high-horsepower brains who can’t shut off at bedtime.
If you prefer not to supplement, you may also try nuts, seeds, and, get this, dark chocolate. Just be sure to monitor your intake as those foods can add up if you’re trying to control healthy body composition.
And for those of you already taking magnesium – good job. Take more, especially if you’re exercising or working towards hard deadlines or under a lot of stress.
Here’s to brighter and happier days!
– Coach Ryan
This article represents the opinion of the writer only and does not imply active recommendation by GLOHS. Please seek professional advice if further information is required.