Can magnesium help boost our mood?
It's becoming better recognised that magnesium supplementation may be associated with significant improvements in mood and some brand new research now helps backs this idea further.
The new research has provided evidence to suggest that taking magnesium in supplement form may help to improve symptoms associated with low mood and depression. In the study, participants with higher levels of magnesium in their blood were found to have more favourable mood scores.1 This allowed the authors to conclude that taking a magnesium supplement would be a suitable approach to help achieve this effect.
Interestingly, the same encouraging results regarding magnesium status was found across both men and women, and regardless of age and race. This suggests that most people should be able to expect some improvements in terms of their mood, when taking a magnesium supplement.1
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is considered an essential nutrient, meaning we need to acquire it in sufficient amounts from our diet in order to support a number of bodily processes. Magnesium is thought to help support hundreds of processes and biochemical reactions in the body including supporting the health of our muscles and nerves, as well as positively affecting our mood, ability to sleep and how our body responds to sugar (our blood sugar also has important implications for our mood, sleep and ultimately our body weight!).
Therefore, I think it's safe to say this is one nutrient we want to ensure we're getting enough of!
But, are we getting enough?
In research investigating the beneficial effects of supplements, it's often the case that people who are deficient in specific nutrients in the first place then experience the most marked improvements when upping their intake. This was highlighted recently in a large vitamin D trial2 and seems to be a common trend across the board.
So, when it comes to magnesium, is it quite likely that we're deficient to start with and therefore are in need of more? The answer is a resounding yes, and here I explain why:
1. It's mainly found in fresh foods
Magnesium is found most abundantly in fresh foods. This includes a variety of wholegrains, including wheat, rye or quinoa, beans, nuts, seeds and fruit and vegetables including leafy greens and avocados.
Therefore, if we aren't eating enough fresh foods and are being tempted by more processed options, we can risk not getting enough, and unfortunately this seems to be a common trend nowadays. It just takes one look at the products lining our supermarket shelves, or anywhere in public for the matter, to realise this!
2. The state of our soil
The magnesium content in our soil, and therefore in our plant-based foods, is diminishing according to research published in 2016.3 This means that, even despite our best efforts to eat well, we may not be so easily able to acquire enough magnesium through our food to satisfy our optimal daily requirements.
3. Lifestyle can drain our stores further
There is also research available to suggest that some common, modern lifestyle practices, including taking medications such as the contraceptive pill4, or stress5 can risk draining us of our precious magnesium stores.
How can I increase my magnesium levels?
Whilst there are some concerns about the availability of magnesium nowadays (plus our ability to hold on to it internally), every little helps when it comes to upping our intake of this important nutrient.
In order to hit your magnesium quota going forward, some advice from me is as follows:
1. Eat fresh
Whilst the magnesium content of some foods may not be quite as impressive as it was several years ago, there's no denying that eating fresh is the way to go. To improve your chances of acquiring more of this mineral further, eating organic as much as possible can be a useful tactic. There is some suggestion that the changing pH of our soil (which pesticides largely influence) could be having a significant impact.
2. Stress less
It seems that a two way relationship between stress and magnesium levels exists. We not only know that increasing our intake of magnesium can help improve symptoms of stress, low mood and our ability to sleep (all of which are linked), but by being extra stressed, we also risk depleting our magnesium stores further.
Therefore, taking practical steps to help manage your stress levels, may help to protect vital stores of this nutrient.
3. Top up with a multivitamin
Whilst acquiring magnesium through dietary sources should always be top priority, for many of us, it sounds like actively topping up our levels with a supplement could be a helpful tactic. The conclusions drawn from the new research help to back this idea1 up nicely – and especially when the symptoms of low mood are concerned, it seems!
Luckily our Balance Mineral Drink can help to do just that. Balance contains a sensible dose of magnesium at 112mg, but crucially this is in combination with a number of other nutrients too, including vitamin D which, if we are to become deficient, has also been shown to have detrimental effects on our mood.6
When to go to the doctor
Whilst the research suggests positive improvements in mood with a sufficient intake of magnesium, this may not be a suitable course of action, at least not alone, when it comes to the symptoms of clinical depression. Depression should always be treated under the guidance of a doctor and may require a multi-disciplinary approach.