Magnesium is one of my essential supplements that I recommend it to all of my clients since it is involved with so many bodily functions. It is partially responsible for insulin secretion, blood glucose control and nerve and muscle function, just to name a few. The mineral supplement also boasts the powers of providing the body with energy, making protein and DNA, improving sleep, calming muscle tension, regulating the transport of calcium, and maintaining a normal heart rhythm. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in every single tissue in the human body. But what many people do not realize is that magnesium is also critical for processes related to the mind.
Magnesium is essential for mood regulation and stress resistance. It helps maintain the body’s stress-response by controlling hormones that reduce or elevate stress. Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to rise, which can damage the brain and worsen the effects of stress, even leading to depression. Magnesium acts to suppress the release of various stress hormones like cortisol, in turn reducing the risk of anxiety and depression. And the powerful mineral goes beyond just stress regulation. Magnesium is related to memory and learning since it promotes the density of synapses, particularly in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain most responsible for memory function. Studies have shown that magnesium also maintains synaptic plasticity, which means that it protects cognitive function, in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Relatively new research indicates that magnesium also regulates our vitamin D levels, and vitamin D has numerous effects on the mind. For example, vitamin D is partially responsible for the release of dopamine and serotonin, AKA the neurotransmitters that affect happiness. One extensive study that examined the effects of diet on brain function found that vitamin D is also an essential predictor of cognitive performance in older people. Even though vitamin D is so crucial for numerous tasks related to the mind, it remains ineffective without the support of magnesium.
Magnesium needs must be satisfied through our diet since the human body does not create the mineral on its own. Some foods with the highest levels of magnesium include legumes, beans, seaweed, dark leafy greens, seeds, nuts and unprocessed whole grains. Despite its importance, almost half of Americans are not getting enough magnesium as a result of the Standard American Diet lacking many of those key foods. Plus, modern farming practices have nearly stripped the earth of its magnesium supply, making it difficult to consume enough of it even if you do eat a balanced and healthy diet. Because of this, I recommend that most of my clients take a magnesium supplement. The one I love is Innate Response Magnesium 300 mg.
There are various forms of magnesium on the market, but the best kind for resolving issues related to the mind is magnesium L-Threonate. The L-Threonate form of magnesium increases brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and grow and is crucial for memory and learning. It is also important for mood lifting, energy production, and focus. In terms of supplements, my favorite is Life Extension’s Neuro-Mag Magnesium L-Threonate. Groups that are most at risk of magnesium deficiency and should talk to their doctors about supplementation include people with gastrointestinal diseases like celiac and Crohn’s, those who suffer from alcoholism, teenage girls, people who have type 2 diabetes and older individuals. Ideally, men should be getting about 400-420 mg of magnesium per day and women should be getting around 310-320 mg (with the recommended daily amount varying for pregnant and breastfeeding women). New benefits of magnesium are constantly being discovered by the medical community, so the full scope of how magnesium affects the mind is yet to be determined.
As always, please check with a doctor before taking a new supplement.