The Link Between Magnesium Deficiency & Depression
There is a very strong link between depression and a mineral that you need if you want healthy brain function – magnesium.
If you’re like most people, you don’t get enough of it. Indeed about 80% of people have low magnesium levels, which can create so many problems, one of which is depression.
Why Are So Many People Magnesium Deficient?
There are several factors, including modern farming, lifestyle choices, stress, and a gross imbalance between processed food and nutrient-dense food.
Magnesium in your diet should come from plants, but specific environmental influences can cause plants to have low magnesium levels. One of those influences is pesticides, which are used to kill bacteria. The justifying idea is that the pesticides are protecting the plants, but those bacteria are needed by the plants to absorb magnesium from the soil. Furthermore, certain types of commercial fertilizers block the uptake of magnesium and calcium from the soil. So the problem here is that modern methods of growing plants are causing them to have low levels of magnesium. That means when you consume these plants, your diet lacks magnesium.
Lifestyle also affects magnesium levels. For instance, when you use prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, or you drink alcohol or caffeine, there’s a strong chance that you’re interfering with your magnesium absorption. Meanwhile, stress – whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical – causes your cells to dump or release magnesium into your blood. Much of that magnesium, once it’s released, gets excreted.
What makes the situation worse is that stress and magnesium depletion create a vicious cycle with each other, because having low levels of magnesium makes you more reactive to stressful situations. One of the hormones released during stress is adrenaline. Adrenaline increases the loss of magnesium from your cells. So, more lost magnesium means you become stressed easier, and then with more stress you lose more magnesium. And so the cycle continues and worsens until you do something to break it.
Magnesium Deficiency and Mood
Numerous research studies have shown a link between magnesium deficiency and things like irritability, anxiety, and depression. This makes sense since magnesium is known for its calming effect, both physically and mentally.
One classic sign of magnesium deficiency can be muscles that are twitching or cramping regularly. (Magnesium and calcium need to be in balance in order for your muscles to function properly.)
Another can be chronic constipation.
Magnesium is also essential for your central nervous system. It impacts brain chemistry, where it is involved in the pathways of many hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
Furthermore, magnesium helps to keep inflammation at bay. When you’re lacking magnesium, the result can be systemic inflammation, which has a noticeable negative effect on your brain and your behavior. Simple having low level chronic inflammation in your body is enough to alter your brain chemistry and spark symptoms of depression. One way it does this is that a lack of magnesium can lower the level of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the key chemical in your brain associated with mood – along with social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory and sexual function. So you really don’t want to let a magnesium deficiency mess with your serotonin levels.
Chronic Inflammation, Disease, and Depression
Chronic inflammation, often caused by magnesium deficiency, is at the root of many deadly diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And, of course, having one of these diseases increases the likelihood that you’ll experience depression. For instance, a diagnosis of diabetes will double your risk for depression. Meanwhile, about 70% of people with an autoimmune disorder like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis report having depression.
Some Ways To Get More Magnesium In Your Diet
A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds will give you almost half of your daily requirement. A good, simple snack that has an amazing benefit.
Other good sources of magnesium include:
- dark leafy greens – organic, of course
- avocados – the perfect fruit
- almonds and almond milk
- dark chocolate with 70% or higher cacao content
Should You Take A Magnesium Supplement?
It’s quite likely that you’re not getting enough magnesium from your diet. (Remember, 80 percent of people are deficient.) That means keeping a magnesium supplement around the house is a good idea. Take it each day, especially if you suffer from mood-related problems like depression or anxiety, if you tend to get stressed out easily, if you have occasional muscle twitches or cramps, or if you have problems with constipation.
If you think you might be in the 80% of people who have low magnesium levels, make sure you eat more veggies, first and foremost. The second thing to do is supplement your magnesium intake. It’s a convenient, easy, safe, and inexpensive way to handle a magnesium deficiency.
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