Common Uses:Stress, Anxiety, Migraines, Premenstrual Syndrome
Magnesium, an essential mineral for the human body, is involved in a variety of physiological processes and is used as a cofactor in over 300 biochemical reactions.
Traditionally, various foods rich in magnesium have been the primary source for obtaining adequate levels of this mineral. However, it has been found that many populations, especially Western populations, experience magnesium deficiency. Insufficient levels of magnesium in the body are associated with a broad range of ailments ranging from mental health conditions, to cardiovascular disease, to type II diabetes. Since 1981, the important effects of magnesium supplementation on chronic stress, specifically, have been recognized.
Modern research has facilitated a clearer understanding of how magnesium levels correlate with various physiological responses in the body. Adequate magnesium levels are particularly important for stress management and mental health.
A review that analyzed the results of 18 studies found magnesium supplementation to be an effective approach to treating anxiety, noting that blood plasma and brain magnesium levels are linked with anxious behavior. This review also provides comprehensive information on the mechanisms through which magnesium acts. One example of the biochemical effects of magnesium is its tendency to modulate the activity of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPAA), which is involved in the body’s response to stress. By weakening the activity of the HPAA, magnesium may interfere with the onset of anxiety-related symptoms.
Additionally, a study from 2004 conducted on mice which tested acute and chronic treatments with magnesium documents both its antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Interestingly, a different study has found that magnesium decreases neuronal hyperexcitability through the inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity. This provides an explanation for the calming neurological effects of magnesium, as NMDA receptors have been connected to anxiety and panic disorders.
Interesting Fact:The magnesium content of a food is highest when in its raw form and is often decreased by any form of processing, cooking, or boiling.
Boyle, Neil Bernard et al. “The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review.”Nutrients vol. 9,5 429. 26 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9050429
Poleszak, Ewa et al. “Antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like activity of magnesium in mice.”Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior vol. 78,1 (2004): 7-12. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2004.01.006
Coan E.J., Collingridge G.L. Magnesium ions block anN-methyl-d-aspartate receptor-mediated component of synaptic transmission in rat hippocampus. Neurosci. Lett. 1985;53:21–26. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(85)90091-6
Schwalfenberg, Gerry K, and Stephen J Genuis. “The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare.”Scientifica vol. 2017 (2017): 4179326. doi:10.1155/2017/4179326
Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011.