MAGNESIUM AND YOUR MOOD
Mental health and mood disorders are pervasive throughout society, and while the causes are complex, multi-faceted and not fully understood, emerging research is emphasising how deficiencies in certain minerals and vitamins like Vitamin D and magnesium may be a part of the puzzle.
It is already well-known and well-documented that magnesium plays an important role in the brain, most notably creating strong neurological pathways that ensure good communications between the brain and the body. Most importantly, magnesium also controls the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, which is the hub of the body’s stress response system and a key driver of our moods and emotions.
As a result, one of the most debilitating consequences of a deficiency in magnesium is the disruption of the HPA axis - causing a cascade of negative consequences to your wellbeing such as disrupted sleep and poor concentration. As your body becomes more and more depleted of this mineral, you may start to notice:
- Frequent anxiety or panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Dizziness or brain fog
- Being easily startled
- A feeling of “tired but wired”
- Inability to handle stress
- Insomnia or poor sleep
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Feeling sad and down for long periods of time
On the contrary, when you have adequate levels of magnesium in the body, your HPA axis is firing normally, you are more stress-tolerant, reap the benefits of deep, restorative sleep, can concentrate more readily, have stable moods and feel more equipped to cope with all of life’s stressors. Your disposition is noticeably brighter and calmer - hence why magnesium is often dubbed “nature’s Valium” and “the original chill pill”!
So with that in mind, it’s plausible how supplementing with magnesium could alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression through numerous pathways and a multitude of mechanisms, including (but not limited to):
- Binding to and stimulating GABA receptors in the brain - GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows brain activity and promotes relaxation. If you find yourself to be easily overwhelmed, frazzled, overcome with worries often or lay awake with racing thoughts, you likely have low GABA levels - and low GABA level is associated with numerous stress-related disorders including generalized anxiety disorder. By stimulating the production of adequate GABA levels, magnesium protects you from these effects of low GABA.
- Regulating and reducing stress levels in the body - An excess or chronic elevation of our primary stress hormone cortisol can contribute to anxiety, brain fog, depression, mood swings, dementia, concentration problems, insomnia, and more. Magnesium plays a key role in restricting the release of such stress hormones, and acts as a filter to prevent them from entering the brain. Moreover, magnesium acts directly on the muscles of your body to help relax them and ease tension - sending signals to your brain that your body is calm and that it doesn’t need to be constantly pumping out more stress hormones. Calm body = calm mind - and vice versa!
- Acting as an anti-inflammatory - Magnesium restricts the production and movement of pro-inflammatory markers throughout the body. Indeed, chronic inflammation can take hold anywhere in the body, even in the brain. Inflammation in the brain can destroy brain tissue and alter brain function in ways that have been linked to numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
As you can see, addressing a magnesium deficiency is likely to have a profound impact on your quality of life and both your physical and mental health. Once you’ve optimised your magnesium intake, you can expect to experience improved well-being — feeling happier, more relaxed, and more resilient to stress, and having improved focus and concentration, increased energy, and better sleep.