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Magnesium: An underappreciated nutrient for brain health and mental well-being
By Olivia Cook // Apr 17, 2023

Every known illness is associated with a deficiency of magnesium and it’s the missing cure for many diseases, says American neurosurgeon Dr. Clyde Norman Shealy, a pioneer in pain medicine, integrative health and holistic healing practitioner.

Magnesium is essential for cellular health and is a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body. Even glutathione, your body’s most powerful antioxidant that has been called "the master antioxidant," requires magnesium for its synthesis. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this and millions are suffering daily from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it, Shealy adds.

Magnesium’s role in brain health and mental well-being benefits

Considering the numerous functions of magnesium in the body, it should be no surprise that magnesium plays a role in brain health and mental well-being.

Evidence suggests magnesium levels inside brain cells correlate directly with energy production – when brain cells fail to produce proper amounts of energy, magnesium levels are often low. This may directly impact cases of migraine since low levels have been found in patients during migraine attacks.


Beyond energy production in brain cells, magnesium also plays a crucial role in numerous transmitter systems, including:


This hormone is often referred to as the "feel good" neurotransmitter. Magnesium has been shown to enhance serotonin activity. In the chapter on Magnesium and major depression in Magnesium in the Central Nervous System, a publication by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, brain magnesium deficiency was found to reduce serotonin levels.

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Scientists also call gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) a non-protein amino acid neurotransmitter that is known for producing a calming effect, slowing down brain activity. It’s thought to play a major role in controlling nerve cell hyperactivity that is associated with anxiety, fear and stress.

In the chapter on Magnesium in neuroses and neuroticism of the same NCBI publication, magnesium administration was shown to decrease anxiety, panic and phobia and ameliorates attention deficit and sleep disorders.

Chapter authors Victoria Papadopol and Mihai Nechifor implicated magnesium deficiency in a number of nonspecific neuropsychological changes, such as agitation, anxiety, depression, dizziness, fear, insomnia, poor attention and restlessness. Some of these symptoms characterize the mental illness known as neurosis, they added.


Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is important for normal function in the brain. In excess, however, it can cause cells to become overstimulated. This overexcitation of cells ultimately leads to cell death and is linked to mental health conditions, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.

In addition to contributing to these mental health conditions, excessive glutamate activity has also been linked to neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizures and stroke. (Related: Magnesium for MS, ALS and epilepsy.)

Other neuroprotective effects

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pooling the results of the available clinical trials of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) for neuroprotection suggests that prenatal administration of magnesium sulfate reduces the occurrence of cerebral palsy when given with neuroprotective intent.

Mental health conditions associated with magnesium

Research is showing potential clinical benefits for several mental health conditions, such as:


Depression is one of the most common illnesses and a leading cause of disability worldwide – contributing to a decreased quality of life and a greater risk of death.

In a case report published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, researchers explained that magnesium ions regulate calcium ion flow in the neuronal calcium channels, helping to regulate neuronal nitric oxide production. In magnesium deficiency, neuronal requirements for magnesium may not be met, causing neuronal damage, which could manifest as depression.

The study suggested magnesium treatment to be effective in treating major depression as well as related and accompanying mental illnesses, including anxiety, headache, hypersensitivity to calcium, insomnia, irritability, postpartum depression, short-term memory and IQ loss, suicidal ideation, traumatic brain injury and alcohol, cocaine and tobacco abuse.


In a study published in the journal Nutrients, magnesium was found to modulate the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA), which is a central substrate of the stress response system. Activation of the HPAA instigates adaptive autonomic, behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to cope with the demands of the stressor, including increasing anxiety. Similarly, the evidence from studies of women who complained of premenstrual symptoms also suggests that magnesium could confer benefits. (Related: Magnesium provides a natural remedy for anxiety.)


Magnesium status is highly associated with stress levels, with both stress and hypomagnesemia (low level of magnesium) raising each other’s negative effect. Hypomagnesemia has been associated with stressful conditions, such as audiogenic stress (noise), chronic fatigue syndrome, cold stress, fibromyalgia (pain and tenderness throughout your body as well as fatigue and trouble sleeping), photosensitive headache and physical stress, among others.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

In a study published in the Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, magnesium deficiency was found in 18 (72 percent of) children diagnosed with ADHD. The magnesium-supplemented group improved as regards cognitive functions as measured by the Wisconsin card sorting test and Conners’ rating scale. The study concluded that magnesium supplementation in ADHD proves its value and safety.

Alzheimer's and cognitive aging

Findings in a study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions suggest that a high magnesium intake may improve cognition in the U.S.'s elderly population.

Commonly referred to as brain fog, slow cognition or difficulty with concentration and memory can all indicate a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for the brain, so without it, your brain cannot perform as well.

Several overlooked conditions or activities can compromise magnesium levels, such as consuming a lot of sugar or phytic acid, eating less than three servings of vegetables each day or poor nutrient absorption in the gut. Even drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or taking certain prescription medications can disturb the body’s magnesium supply.

So turn magnesium deficiency around today for brain health and mental well-being.

Watch the following video to learn about magnesium deficiency.

This video is from the Dr. Farah MD channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

The insanity of avoiding magnesium.

Common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Discover magnesium, the miracle mineral.

Sources include:












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