Magnesium is a major mineral that is used by the body as a co-factor in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Thus, the deficiency of magnesium can be related to many illness and diseases.
One common disorder is the link between magnesium and depression. Individuals at high risk for magnesium deficiency include: excessive alcohol use, malabsorption, diuretic use, parathyroid disease, chronic stress, and burns.1
Depression from magnesium deficiency is a result of the shortage of magnesium that regulates the Ca++ ion flow in neuronal calcium channels that help to regulate nitric oxide production.2
Depression symptoms related to magnesium deficiency include hyperexcitability, depression, behavior disturbances, tetany, headaches, generalized tonic-clonic as well as focal seizures, ataxia, vertigo, muscular weakness, tremors, irritability, and psychotic behavior.2
Another clue that an individual’s behavior is due to magnesium deficiency is that it is always neurotic and never psychotic.2 Examples of related neurotic type behaviors are generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.2 Other symptoms related to magnesium deficiency include: hyperemotionality, asthenia, headache, insomnia, dizziness, nervous fits, repeated fainting, lump in throat sensation, and blocked breathing sensation.5 All of these symptoms are simply “cured” through magnesium supplementation.5
The current Western medicine standard is to treat depression with anti-depressant medications such as MAO inhibitors, tricyclic drugs, SSRI’s, or lithium. Many researchers believe that these drugs may actually have the opposite of the intended effect and actually cause more people to commit suicide rather than preventing it.5
This concern is real and has prompted the FDA to include a “black Box” warning in the use of these drugs.5 A “black box” warning is a box in the package insert of a prescription medication with a black box line around the text that signifies that medical studies indicate that the drug carries a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects.3
The diet of depressed people is usually lacking in magnesium.4
Should Magnesium become the treatment of choice for depression?
I believe it should due to its wide role in brain chemistry, safety profile, and long history of treating depression and mental illness.5
How did scientist and physicians overlook treating depression with magnesium?
Is it because it’s too simplistic?
Or, could it be that it is simply illegal in this country to market nutrients to treat, cure, or prevent diseases?
It is our job as nutritionist to be involved with the education of physicians and patients to this political disconnect that we face in fighting the Pharmaceutical Industry’s financial interests in pushing their highly toxic an ineffective drug on innocent citizens.
(1) Gropper, SS., Smith, JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Sixth Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 2013. p. 443-448.