Feeling moody? You might need magnesium!
This mineral is one of the most important nutrients in the body. It is involved in a variety of bodily functions and over 300 biochemical processes while providing numerous health benefits, including brain support.
This mineral plays an essential role in mental health and is well known for its relaxing properties which is why it is often recommended to help combat the effects of stress on the body.
Magnesium has gained more attention for its potential role in ameliorating mood disorders and mental and emotional wellbeing, which we will explore today.
How can magnesium boost your mood?
Magnesium is involved in many of the pathways, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters that play a role in mood regulation. Due to its numerous implications with cognitive health it has been widely studied and examined for its potential role in the prevention and treatment of neurological disorders (1).
Let's explore some of the many ways magnesium can help to boost your mood and improve your mental health:
It's mighty hard to feel upbeat or optimistic when your energy is low. Though you may have heard magnesium works well to help you sleep and relax, at the same time it is also involved in energy production.
This doesn't mean that magnesium will stimulate you like caffeine, instead it supports natural energy production in the body without stimulating the nervous system. It's like fuel to your internal battery.
Magnesium works on a cellular level to support ATP production in the mitochondria, the primary source of energy in our cells.
Without enough magnesium you may experience lower energy levels as energy production declines.
Inflammation has been associated with mood disorders, including depression via numerous mechanisms of action such as dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, impaired neuroplasticity, and structural and functional brain changes (2)(3).
Systemic inflammation underlies almost every health condition and chronic disease. And it doesn't just stay in the body, inflammation also reaches the brain as inflammation and mood disorders have a bidirectional relationship.
Brain inflammation can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, mood swings, and other neurological symptoms.
Evidence shows improved outcomes in mood disorders when anti-inflammatory agents are used in conjunction to conventional therapy (4).
Magnesium deficiency is a predisposing factor for chronic inflammation and thus represents a nutrient of significance when it comes to managing inflammation (6).
Lowered risk of depression
Magnesium plays an important modulatory role in brain biochemistry which influences neurotransmission pathways that are associated with the development of depression, anxiety, and other neurological conditions (7).
There is more than sufficient evidence indicating that inadequate dietary magnesium is a contributing factor to the development of major depression and mood issues (8).
At the same time magnesium has been shown to provide mood-improving effects while also enhancing the efficacy of conventional antidepressant treatments (9).
Sleep and mood are closely connected, and we've all felt the negative impacts of lack of sleep on our mental and emotional health. Inadequate sleep can promote irritability, agitation, low mood, and increased stress. When this develops into a bigger problem such as chronic insomnia, it can increase the risk of developing a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression. In fact, mood disorders have been found in up to one half of patients who suffer with chronic sleep problems (10).
Sleep is a foundational element to address when it comes to improving mental health and wellbeing. If you do have trouble with sleep, magnesium can help.
One of the most common uses of magnesium is for sleep, as it helps the brain and body relax. It does this by activating calming neurotransmitters and the parasympathetic system, the relaxed state of the body (11). This can be especially helpful if you find yourself having trouble sleeping from a busy mind or high stress.
Blood sugar balance
Have you ever been hangry? This is a tell tale sign of the connection that blood sugar and mood have on each other.
The brain needs a steady supply of fuel in the form of glucose to function properly. When your blood sugar spikes and crashes, this can impact your mood in many ways and ultimately make you feel more irritable, down, and even anxious.
Poor blood sugar control can actually be damaging to neurological tissue and even the blood brain barrier, which protects the brain from toxins and harmful substances.
Supporting blood sugar stabilization is yet another way that magnesium can improve brain health and mood. Magnesium has been shown to not only improve insulin resistance but also reduce blood sugar levels in diabetes patients (13)(14).
High blood sugar has been associated with raised inflammation and an increased risk of cognitive decline.
On the other hand, lower-normal blood sugar levels are associated with more favourable brain health outcomes (15).
If you suspect unstable blood sugar levels may be related to feelings of anxiety or mood disorders, it's of course essential to address your diet and make sure you are eating well balanced and whole food based meals. A dietician or nutritionist can help you to adopt a way of eating that supports good blood sugar balance.
Supplementation of this mineral can also help to lower high blood sugar levels, improve insulin function, and as a result help to stabilize mood and keep the brain healthy.
Magnesium is significantly affected by stress levels (16). Chronic stress depletes magnesium which makes it an even more crucial nutrient during times of stress when the body requires more of it.
Magnesium is like a chill pill to the nervous system as it lowers stress and regulates mood.
Magnesium also lowers the famous stress hormone, cortisol, which can contribute to mood swings, anxiety, and depression (18).
This mineral is calming to the nervous system and regulates the HPA axis which is like the master control system of your hormones. Magnesium also supports the production of calming neurotransmitters and happy hormones like serotonin.
Most adults do not obtain enough magnesium on a daily basis and research has found that those who suffer from depression or other neurological conditions were more likely to have lower magnesium levels (19).
You can obtain magnesium in your diet from foods including whole grains, beans, dark chocolate, avocados, legumes, tofu, bananas, leafy green veggies, and nuts.
Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult to receive adequate magnesium from dietary intake alone due to various factors such as soil depletion, food transportation, pesticide use, and lower absorption from poor gut health.
This is where supplementation may come in handy in order to provide sufficient replenishment of this essential mineral.