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Last modified on January 26th, 2023
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals many of us don’t get enough of. Below, we discuss which magnesium is best for mood and what you should generally know about its effects on your mental health and sense of well-being.
How Does Magnesium Improve Your Mood?
Magnesium plays a role in so many aspects of your mood.
For example, it regulates your stress response. When you experience chronic physical stress or mental stress, it depletes your magnesium levels. Then, low levels of magnesium can intensify the pressure you’re feeling, leading to a problematic cycle. When you have adequate magnesium levels, it modulates your stress response and can reduce anxiety and stress. Having sufficient magnesium levels may even reduce your stress response.
Magnesium affects the hypothalamus, a part of your brain that regulates your pituitary and adrenal glands, and these glands are responsible for how you respond to stress.
For people with depression, magnesium can have numerous benefits, including:
- Magnesium plays a role in regulating cortisol levels, and magnesium can prevent excess cortisol production since it can calm your nervous system. Magnesium also helps balance hormones, including progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, and follicle-stimulating hormone, which can help with depression and symptoms of a mood disorder.
- If you have an underactive thyroid, it can cause or worsen symptoms of depression. Magnesium assists in the production of thyroid hormones and can also protect the thyroid because it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Magnesium is thought to modulate the serotoninergic system, and it can have a synergistic effect on alleviating symptoms of depression when combined with antidepressants, such as SSRIs.
- Magnesium plays a key role in the regulation of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters send messages throughout your brain and body, and that’s one of the main ways it affects neurological and mental health.
Magnesium in the brain helps with the regulation of NMDA glutamate receptors. Glutamate is considered an excitatory neurotransmitter needed for healthy brain function, but if you have it too high, it can cause your brain to become overstimulated. That can be linked with conditions like ALS and Parkinson’s disease.
Excess glutamate activity is also linked to depression and anxiety.
Magnesium blocks glutamate’s actions in the NMDA receptors. If you’re deficient in magnesium, your NMDA receptors are blocked, leading to overexcitation. This is another possible way magnesium can play a role in preventing and treating depression.
Common Reasons for Magnesium Deficiency
Some of the reasons that people are magnesium deficient can include the following:
- Much of the magnesium we get from our diet is from plant sources, but the magnesium levels we consume can vary depending on how much the plant absorbs. Some foods may not be as magnesium-rich as we’d assume they are.
- If you have high stress levels, it depletes magnesium. When you’re experiencing high levels of stress, magnesium is released into your blood cells, and your kidneys excrete it. This can play a role in protecting you from some of the adverse effects of stress, but over time with chronic stress, you can experience magnesium depletion and then deficiency.
- The type of magnesium supplement someone uses can affect its absorption by the body. Some are more bioavailable than others, so if you’re using the wrong kind of supplement, you may not be increasing your levels.
- Dietary factors can affect your absorption of magnesium. For example, alcohol and caffeine can affect how much magnesium you absorb, as can antacids or diuretics.
- If you have a disorder that affects your digestive system, like inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, or Crohn’s, it can affect your magnesium absorption.
- Excessive diarrhea or frequent urination can contribute to magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of metabolic reactions, and low levels aren’t just linked to mood disorders. Low magnesium levels are also linked to migraines, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Which Magnesium Is Best For Mood?
There are many types of magnesium, but when it comes to which magnesium is best for mood, there are a couple of options.
First is magnesium L-threonate. Magnesium L-threonate is a salt formed by mixing magnesium and threonic acid. Threonic acid is water-soluble and comes from the breakdown of vitamin C. The reason that it’s one of the best types of magnesium for mood because it’s easily absorbed, and in animal research, it’s thought to be the most effective at increasing the concentration of magnesium in brain cells.
If your goal is to support your brain health and reduce mood-related symptoms, consider magnesium L-threonate.
Magnesium L-threonate is also just magnesium threonate, and healthcare providers often recommend it because it can rapidly normalize magnesium levels and the brain benefits.
Magnesium threonate is very efficient and effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier, and it’s absorbed well since it’s bonded to threonic acid.
Taking a magnesium threonate supplement might take a dose of around 1500-2000 mg.
My picks for the best magnesium threonate supplements are:
The second option that is best for mood is magnesium glycinate. Magnesium glycinate combines elemental magnesium and glycine, an amino acid. Glycine is a supplement often used to improve sleep quality and reduce inflammatory conditions and symptoms.
Magnesium glycinate is also easily absorbed and is thought to have calming properties. Research shows magnesium glycinate may help with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress. Other benefits of magnesium glycinate can include reducing symptoms of PMS and pain. Symptoms of conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome may benefit from using magnesium glycinate.
If you want a magnesium glycinate supplement, my two picks for the best options are:
Final Thoughts—Which Magnesium Is Best for Mood?
Magnesium affects mood and mental health in so many ways, including how it helps balance hormones and neurotransmitters. Magnesium deficiency is increasingly associated with low mood and specific mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
While correcting a magnesium deficiency with any supplement is likely to be helpful for your mood, two types of magnesium are good for your mood.
The first is magnesium L-threonate (also known as magnesium threonate) and glycinate. Both are good for raising brain levels of magnesium relatively quickly, and both are well-absorbed by the body so they can be put to use.
Botturi, Andrea et al. “The Role and the Effect of Magnesium in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review.” NIH National Library of Medicine, June 12, 2020. Accessed January 10, 2023.
Bartlin, Barbara MD et al. “Magnesium: An Essential Supplement for Psychiatric Patients.” Psychiatry Advisor, July 22, 2014. Accessed January 10, 2023.
Noah, Lionel et al. “Effect of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 Supplementation On Mental Health and Quality of Life in Stressed Healthy Adults: Post-Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Stress and Health, April 16, 2021. Accessed January 10, 2023.
Fletcher, Jenna. “Does Magnesium Help with Anxiety?” PsychCentral, November 2, 2021. Accessed January 10, 2023.