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Maximum Wellness, Episode 19: Magnesium Supplementation is Associated with Improved Depressive Symptoms



Depression, according to Psychiatry.org, “is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable.”

Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

The website says symptoms, which can vary from mild to severe, include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite—weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Current research, “The Association Between Serum Magnesium Levels and Depression in an Adult Primary Care Population,” appearing in the July Issue of Nutrients, determined that, “for adults seen in primary care, lower serum magnesium levels are associated with depressive symptoms, supporting the use of supplemental magnesium as therapy. Serum magnesium may help identify the biological mechanism of depressive symptoms and identify patients likely to respond to magnesium supplementation.”

Researchers from various departments at the University of Vermont, Burlington, say that magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the body—affecting over 300 enzymes—”is essential for anaerobic and aerobic energy production, glycolysis, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, as well as, potassium and calcium regulation.”

Low magnesium—hypomagnesemia—is associated with neuromuscular, cardiovascular, neurologic, and electrolyte abnormalities, while being also tied to depressive symptoms in different parts of the world.

The adult RDA for magnesium is 310-420 mg.—depending on age and gender—irrespective of medical issues, such as kidney dysfunction.

The Vermont scientists sought to describe the relationship between serum magnesium and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)—a measure of depression scores—using cross-sectional analysis of medical records from 3604 adults (mean age 62 years; 42% men) seen in primary care clinics between 2015 and 2018, with at least one completed PHQ were included.

The study found that, “the association between serum magnesium levels and depression was seen even when magnesium was in the normal range. In other words, hypomagnesemia was not a prerequisite for the relationship.”

The bottom line is, “obtaining serum magnesium levels is safe, relatively easy, and inexpensive, and could help individualize treatment.”

People with abnormal kidney function need to check with their physician first before supplementing with magnesium.

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.